Negotiations underway for purchase of Muhammad Ali's boyhood home


by Claudia Coffey

Posted on August 27, 2012 at 11:39 AM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 28 at 12:04 AM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- WHAS11 has learned of an interested buyer and negotiations are under way to buy the childhood home of Muhammad Ali.  The sale could be completed in a week, and the plan is to restore the home, so people can enjoy its historical significance

It's small unassuming white house with a sagging front porch on Grand Avenue in West Louisville. You'd drive right by it if it wasn’t for the historical marker out front.  It’s the home of Muhammad Ali.

Lawrence Montgomery lives across the street and knew Ali and his family. In fact, Ali baby sat for his three small children. He's saddened that the home's future is now in doubt.

"I was just really surprised,” said Lawrence Montgomery.  “I hate to see it go down like it has been.”

The home on Grand Avenue is where a young Cassius Clay Junior grew up, and is described as the place where young Clay's values were instilled, but now it's fallen into major disrepair.

Neighbors say the "For Sale" signs showed up about one month ago.  There have been a number of tenants over the years, and neighbors say the home needs a lot of repair.
"The last tenants in there told me the birds and things would come in through the roof,” said Montgomery.  “Needs a lot of work? Yeah, needs a lot of work.”

Councilman David Tandy, whose name is on the historical marker, says in recent years he has received calls from parties hoping to buy the home and restore it. He hopes now to bring some of those interested buyers together.

"Hopefully we can get the parties together who would do that. I think for the city itself it would do us good to have a home like that preserved much like the Martin Luther King home down in Atlanta," says Councilman David Tandy.

The owner of the home, Steve Stephensen, did not return any calls. Stephensen told the Associated Press he hopes to sell the home for $50,000, but offered no further details.  The home is valued at $23,000.

Montgomery just hopes that the right buyer turns it into a place that pays tribute to this hometown boxing champ.  Neighbors say they would like to see someone buy it and turn it into a museum.

In a statement issued by President and CEO of the Muhammad Ali Center: “Muhammad Ali’s boyhood home has major significance to the City of Louisville as an important historical landmark," said President and CEO Donald Lassere.  "There are others around town that are also important: the hospital Muhammad was born in, the schools he attended, the sites where he trained. And of course, the Muhammad Ali Center that signifies much more than a building with Ali’s name on it; it is the ‘living’ institution that preserves and promotes Muhammad Ali’s legacy through its programs, exhibits, and educational outreach. Obviously, the Center has every hope that Muhammad’s former home is preserved in a way that makes both Muhammad Ali and the City proud.”