Louisville ministry helping to rebuild Muhammad Ali's boyhood ho - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Louisville ministry helping to rebuild Muhammad Ali's boyhood home

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It's the place where "The Greatest" first learned to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee, and now work is finally underway to renovate the boyhood home of Muhammad Ali.

This is a historic renovation project, but it's about more than rebuilding the home where Ali grew up. It's also about rebuilding lives.

One thing is for sure about the house on Grand Avenue. It is not The Greatest. In fact, when the contractor began work, the place was in worse shape than he thought.

“It was rotting," Thomas Elliott said. "The house was rotting out. It was in bad shape."

The crew had to strip the house down to bare bones. But Elliott promises when his crew is done, it will look much as it did when young Cassius Clay lived here on his way to becoming Muhammad Ali.

“At least 75 percent of it will still be original,” he said.

There's been talk for years of restoring this home and turning it into a tourist destination. But work did not begin until co-owner George Bochetto, a lawyer from Philadelphia, took charge.

He's teaming with local pastor Charles Elliott.

A half-dozen members of the work crew are part of Elliott's Jesus and a Job program, designed to give ex-convicts and drug addicts a chance to work.

“Muhammad Ali has shown us what can happen when you put heart in it and strive and work toward it," Rev. Elliott said. "So this project means more to me than many of the other projects we've worked on because of whose house it was."

Veteran Clifton Briscoe's life fell apart after he left the Army. He's especially grateful to work on this job.

“It's the best thing I ever did in my life. After 19 years in the military, nothing can compare to this, nothing. He's a true legend, a true legend, and I'm glad to be a part of it,” Briscoe said.

The contractor, who is also Rev. Elliott's cousin, is himself a product of Jesus and a Job.

“It's an honor. I thank God for it, that we are able to give back,” Elliott said.

Men are restoring their lives and a landmark for the world to see.

"To have these men doing the work will show the world if we give them a chance, they can do it,” Rev. Elliott said.

The crew is racing to finish the project by mid-September when Ali is in town to receive the Grawemeyer Humanitarian Award from the University of Louisville.

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