Sandra Scott Travels: The Mohammad Ali Center Is More Than Just Boxing

Mohammad Ali

Mohammad Ali

Last week I asked: Where is the Mohammad Ali Center?

In Louisville, Kentucky.

The Mohammad Ali Center
The Mohammad Ali Center

When John and I were in Louisville, Kentucky, a friend suggested we visit the Mohammad Ali Center.

Truthfully, I wasn’t interested in visiting a museum devoted to a boxer but the museum was a wonderful surprise.

The museum is located on the waterfront in a three-story building with a unique design.

The tour starts on the third floor with a five-screen multimedia presentation called “If You Can Dream.”

Mohammad Ali
Mohammad Ali

It provided an overview of Ali’s life and explained his six core principles: confidence, conviction, dedication, respect, giving, and spirituality.

It lays the groundwork for understanding Ali and the museum’s displays.

Not only does it preserve the legacy of Mohammed Ali but inspires people to release the greatness within.

Mohammed Ali certainly displayed confidence which caused some people to consider him an egotistical braggart.

And, I guess, he was, but it becomes more understandable when I learned that Ali’s self-esteem and demeanor gave new confidence to black Americans during the Civil Rights era.

A view inside the center
A view inside the center

Changing his name from Cassius Clay to Mohammed Ali makes perfect sense when he explains why, not the least of which was the fact that Cassius Clay was a slave name.

And, of he became a Muslim because he said, “The word ‘Islam’ means ‘peace.’ The word ‘Muslim’ means ‘one who surrenders to God.’ But the press makes us seem like haters.”

I like his quote, “Rivers, ponds, lakes and streams – they all have different names, but they all contain water. Just as religions do – they all contain truths.”

Ali was right when he said, “After me there will never be another Mohammed Ali.”

Learning about Ali's life
Learning about Ali’s life

He always carried a copy of Rudyard Kipling’s poem, “If,” in his wallet for inspiration.

I had to memorize it in school. I reread it and it certainly has thoughts to live by.

Ali is known for touting his boxing prowess with his now famous quotes: “The Greatest,” “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee,” and “If you even dream of beating me you’d better wake up and apologize.”

One of the aspects of Ali’s life that I knew nothing about was his dedication to helping others.

Ali is known as one of the greatest boxers of all time but his humanitarian side has received almost no press coverage; in part because he believes that charitable acts are a human obligation and should not be bragged about or broadcast.

He said, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”

Posters of some of Ali's bouts are on display
Posters of some of Ali’s bouts are on display

The Giving Pavilion gives an insight to this aspect of his personality.

In 1998 Mohammed Ali was appointed UN Messenger of Peace.

He spoke out against Apartheid and “… brings people from all races together by preaching ‘healing’ to everyone irrespective of race, religion or age.”

He has supported relief and development initiatives and has hand-delivered food and medical supplies to hospitals, street children and orphanages in Africa and Asia.

While John and I were there I watched a group of seventh grade students as they learned the aspects of “The Greatest.”

Ali made headlines throughout his career and life.
Ali made headlines throughout his career and life.

I could tell they were impressed but the part they enjoyed the most was the interactive exhibits where they could try their skill with the punching bag and learn basic boxing techniques from the video by Ali’s daughter, Laila.

His professional career is highlighted by a video projected on a full size boxing ring.

Today, his fight continues as he battles Parkinson’s disease.

Trivia Tease™: Where did Samuel de Champlain established a trading post in 1609?

Look for the answer next week.

Sandra and her husband, John, have been exploring the world for decades, always on the lookout for something new and unique to experience. We have sailed down the Nile for a week on a felucca, stayed with the Pesch Indians in La Mosquitia, visited schools in a variety of countries, and — to add balance to our life — stayed at some of the most luxurious hotels in the world. Let the fun continue!