Our stopover in Louisville was barely 16 hours. We arrived at 8 PM and Annie stayed awake chatting with our host until past midnight. Adam went to bed early. Shortly into our introduction, our host assured us that we lived on the right side of the tracks and that people in her neighborhood knew to avoid crossing them because of gang activity. Annie said, “Wait- the tracks we just drove by?” They were 6 houses down from the one that we were staying in.
Muhammad Ali’s Childhood Home
As we left Louisville, we had one pitstop: Muhammad Ali’s childhood home. Adam found it on Yelp. It was in a lower middle class neighborhood laid out in an organized grid. As we drove up to our destination, we still weren’t sure which home was his. But then a black man walked out of the front door and said, “Come on, come on in!” We got out of the car, walked up the sidewalk, and bought $11 tickets before beginning our tour of Ali’s pink house.
The man who’d greeted us was Muhammad’s childhood friend. He oozed love for him. He walked us through each room of the house, which had been reconstructed to look exactly as it did when Ali lived there. We started with a short 15-minute documentary, which outlined Ali’s illustrious career, from his objection to Vietnam to his rise as the Heavyweight Champion of the World. Ali’s mother was a strong woman and her presence was felt all over the house. She cared about the kids living in their neighborhood – everyone knew her and they all called her “Mama.” Ali shared a bedroom with his younger brother, who was also his best friend, and his go-to wrestling buddy. Even from a young age, Ali used to say that one day he would be the champ one day. After comments like this, his friends would usually roll their eyes and call him “The Mouth,” which was the nickname he earned for all of his talk. Our tour guide was boisterous, jolly, and endearing. He told us that Ali’s father painted their house pink because it was his wife’s favorite color.