Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville

Kentucky USA Museum Offers Look into Life, Times of ‘The Greatest’

From Cassius Clay to present day, the Muhammad Ali Center captures the boxer’s accomplishments inside the ring and for peace, civil rights and more.

It’s much more than just boxing.

The Muhammad Ali Center in downtown Louisville captures not only the professional athlete but the outspoken icon and legend in his own time.

The two-year-old Ali Center, fittingly located in Ali’s hometown, has set out to be more than a tribute to one man’s life, but an institution to promote the ideals that drove him.

Here’s a museum that walks you through the life of an athlete from childhood, through the turbulent ’60s, the ups and downs of a remarkable boxing career, to carrying the Olympic torch in Atlanta, to present day.

If you’ve forgotten that Muhammad Ali was banned from boxing for refusing to be drafted into the Vietnam War, was one of the first recognizable Americans to convert to the Nation of Islam, and was speaking out on black pride at a time when blacks were still being refused service in white restaurants, the Ali Center will remind you that Ali’s accomplishments went far beyond the ring.

The museum is organized so visitors are not likely to miss anything. The tour starts outside the theater, where visitors can see exhibits of Ali’s poetry and art, as well as a stunning view of the Ohio River through a glass wall.

After a biographical video, visitors are free to wander the two-and one-half stories of exhibits, hands-on activities, and multi-media presentations.

There’s a lot to see, and this isn’t a museum you can breeze through in an hour.

Ali’s personal history is told through storyboards, a “whites only” diner replica, and even his bicycle, which holds a heartwarming place in the story of the young Cassius Clay and what led him to his first boxing ring.

Six multi-media stations illustrate Ali’s core values – respect, confidence, conviction, dedication, spirituality and giving – and show examples of how he lived them in his own life.

There are enough hands-on exhibits to make the Ali Center fun even for children. The training camp section offers a chance to shadow-box, get in the ring, and “sting like a bee.”

The center has worked hard to build itself as more than just a museum. The Ali Center has been at the heart of dozens of projects promoting peace throughout the world, and educational programs on Ali’s causes.

If you go:

  • Admission is US$9 for adults, US$8 for seniors, US$5 for students with ID and US$4 for children 6-12. Children 5 and under are free. Groups of 20 or more pay US$7 per person.
  • The center is open 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 12 noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday; closed on some major holidays; and open limited hours on Kentucky Derby Day.
  • Parking is available in an adjacent garage for a parking fee.
  • A small gift shop in the lobby offers clothing, posters and souvenirs.
  • More information is available on the Muhammad Ali Center Web site and by calling the admission desk at (502) 992-5329.

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