Historical marker unveiled at gym where Muhammad Ali was introduced to boxing

Updated: Jan. 16, 2020 at 6:27 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) – The day before what would have been Muhammad Ali’s 78th birthday, the Kentucky Historical Society revealed another part of their plan to memorialize him throughout Louisville.

As part of a series of historical markers, the one at Columbia Gym will now tell a special story.

You’ve probably seen the red bike above the gym at Spalding University, and odds are you’ve heard the story of how a similar red bike belonging to a teenage Cassius Clay was stolen, leading him to a police officer who trained in that gym. If you didn’t, you’ll be able to read about it every time you walk by on this historical marker.

The red bike above the gym at Spalding University.
The red bike above the gym at Spalding University.(WAVE 3 News (custom credit) | WAVE 3 News)

For those who grew up idolizing "The Greatest" to be here now is surreal.

"I have been boxing here since 2013,” said Danielle Lavender, who is now the head strength and conditioning coach at Spalding. “I actually box down the street at First and Breckenridge and on the side of the building we have this huge mural of Muhammad Ali, and every day, when I look at it, I'm just taking it all in, like this is really what his legacy means. Prove to yourself and others that your hard work is worth it.”

There will be two other markers still to be placed throughout Louisville honoring Ali’s legacy, one at Central High School and one at Chickasaw Park. One has already been placed at the West End School.

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