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Muhammad Ali's childhood home museum opens its doors to public

Muhammad Ali's childhood home museum opens its doors to public
Published: May. 1, 2016 at 9:31 PM EDT|Updated: May. 8, 2016 at 10:04 PM EDT
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The Muhammad Ali Childhood Home Museum opened Sunday on Grand Avenue. (Source: Sharon Yoo/WAVE...
The Muhammad Ali Childhood Home Museum opened Sunday on Grand Avenue. (Source: Sharon Yoo/WAVE 3 News)
(Source: Sharon Yoo/WAVE 3 News)
(Source: Sharon Yoo/WAVE 3 News)
(Source: Sharon Yoo/WAVE 3 News)
(Source: Sharon Yoo/WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – After months of planning and rebuilding, the Muhammad Ali Childhood Home Museum opened Sunday.

It brought excitement to everyone involved.

As far as James Calloway can remember, the neighborhood he grew up in was a wholesome, family-oriented one.

"I tell people I grew up three blocks from Ali and don't nobody believe me," he said. "He'd always be running and shadowboxing."

Sitting just two houses away on Grand Avenue, the Calloways' house was home to eight children. They all grew up with the Clay children.

"Wasn't nobody on Grand here rich and like I said, we cared about each other and looked after one another," Calloway said.

Along with the Calloways and the Clays were the Montgomerys. They lived right next to the pink house in a brick house of their own. Linda Montgomery was a little girl when Rahaman and Muhammad Ali (formerly Cassius Clay) babysat her.

"They used to sit us down on the floor in front of the couch and give us all a bowl of cereal!" Montgomery recalled. "They used to eat bologna sandwiches."

When the Montgomerys were approached by the new owners of the Ali childhood home about selling their house with the little green door, their answer was "yes," without hesitation.

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"Now that it's like how it is, pink like it used to be, it will be altogether different," Violet Montgomery, Linda's mother, said. "It will be a good asset for the neighborhood, I know."

Since the sale of the house the Montgomerys didn't go far; they moved into a new house right across the street. Their old house next to Ali's old house has been converted to a visitor's center for the museum.

Like Linda Montgomery said, the co-owners of the Ali property, George Bochetto and Jared Weiss, had a plan to build something that both celebrates the upbringing of a world-class hero and one that sends an important message.

"Young people need to understand that greatness—like Muhammad Ali greatness—didn't happen by accident and it didn't happen overnight, and it didn't happen alone," Bochetto said.

With its doors now open to the public, it's an inspirational message that can be spread to anyone who walks in the little pink house on Grand Ave.

"So many of the kids that come through here now, they really don't know nothing about Ali," Calloway said. He says he's glad for the landmark in the neighborhood.

Rahaman Ali, Muhammad's brother, himself says he couldn't be happier with the renovation and opening of his childhood home.

"Oh, I'm very very very excited," he said. "It's like Christmas to me. It's a new start, and a new beginning."

The inside of the Ali Childhood Home Museum does not allow any photography, so if you want to see it, you have to go and see for yourself.

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