Two years ago, Las Vegas real estate investor Jared Weiss purchased the boyhood home of Louisville boxing legend Muhammad Ali for $70,000. Weiss, an avid fan of Ali, bought the home with plans to transform it into a museum.
But in the years since, the Parkland house has been beaten and battered. Today, the paint continues to chip away and the roof looks to be caving in. Neighbors are hoping some change will come soon.
Lawrence Montgomery has lived on Grand Avenue for all 79 years of his life. He used to live right next door to the young Cassius Clay (Clay, now 72-year-old Ali, converted to the Nation of Islam and changed his name.) The two were close; Clay even baby sat his children.
Montgomery is proud of his block and his neighborhood. But he’s disappointed with the state of the home today, disappointed that the boyhood home of the world’s “greatest” fighter is now derelict.
Montgomery said he would like to see 3302 Grand Ave. turned into a museum.
“It would be nice for it to be a memorial to Muhammad. I think it’d be a great place to put his old gloves and uniforms, we have busloads of people who have come in just to see the house, but I haven’t heard from this guy in Las Vegas lately, at all,” he says.
Hanna Holloway lives down the street. She said the only thing she has seen done to the property is the grass get cut.
“I think they could do a little more with it, I wish they do a little more with it,” Holloway said. “A lot of people come by to get look at it, I think the owners could make it a little more presentable and let the history be known.”
Weiss declined to comment for this story. When he spoke with WFPL in 2012, Weiss said he was working with the Ali family to try to restore the home to its original 1950s state.
“I found it online and saw it for sale. I’m a big Muhammad Ali fan and I wanted to purchase the home to make sure the preservation of his legacy was intact, and that the home would be put to good use,” he said.
Dave Lambrechts with Keller-Williams Realty sold the home to Weiss in 2012. At the time, a lot of work was needed, and significant updates were necessary in order for it to be functional, Lambrechts recalled.
“It was in pretty rough shape, it needed quite a few renovations to be livable,” he says. “The property had been vacant for quite some time.”
In 2012 a historical marker, placed by the Kentucky Historical Society, was put in front of the home making it a city landmark, and a known tourist attraction. Despite the attention from the home, afternoons on Grand Avenue are pretty quiet, Montgomery said. He said that street is completely different from when Ali lived there.
“It’s very quiet. Of course theres new people on the block now, I really don’t know too much about them, but the street is very quiet, not as many children on the street as it used to be.”
Lambrechts said the neighborhood could use some extra attention.
“There is nothing else cool on Grand Avenue, nothing at all, except for Muhammad Ali’s childhood home.”
Several of the neighbors have wondered why the Muhammad Ali Center in downtown Louisville hasn’t taken an interest in purchasing the home or working to restore it. Spokeswoman Jeanie Kahnke says that the center is a nonprofit that strictly focuses on preserving Ali’s legacy in other ways.
“For whatever comes to be, we hope the home is well maintained, that it will serve as an accurate and positive extension to Muhammad’s legacy, and as an everlasting historical marker for the neighborhood and the city,” she said.
For now, the boyhood home of the iconic boxer and civil rights fighter is a crumbling house with a lone plaque in Ali’s honor.