LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A red bicycle on display at Spalding University to commemorate the life of boxing legend Muhammad Ali has vanished.
Spalding University tweeted out the news Friday afternoon.
"Friends and neighbors of Spalding University: Our tribute to Muhammad Ali has disappeared," the tweet stated. "Please help us locate the red bicycle we hung from our University Center (formerly Columbia Gym) in his honor. It has become a staple of our campus and is cherished by our faculty, staff, students, and the Louisville community at large. If you have any information or an help locate the bike, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or simply return the bike to our campus safety office located at 859 Library Lane."
There's a historic reason for displaying the commemorative bike at the site of the former Columbia Gym. That's where, many say, Ali's boxing career began when he was 12 years old -- all because of a bike.
"He left his bike outside and someone stole his bike and he went inside and said, 'I'm going to whoop somebody,'" said Tori Murden McClure, Spalding University president, weeks ago, when the bike was first hung. "He ran into a police officer Joe Martin who said if you're going to beat somebody you better learn how to box."
Ali's widow, Lonnie, said in a released statement, “I hope that in the spirit of respect, the person who took the red bicycle that was hung at Spalding University to commemorate Muhammad returns it to its original location. The bicycle has become a symbol for Spalding University and the Louisville community.”
The rope is still up and a piece of the rope was on the stairs. Inside, students are enjoying a game of basketball at Spalding.
"It's crazy. I don't understand how anyone could take it," said freshman Demarcus Kennedy.
He says Muhammad Ali was, "Kind of one of those people you want to work hard and try to achieve what he did too."
Kennedy says for someone to take the honorary bike, "I guess you could say it's a insult, something probably you shouldn't do. It's low, I guess you could say."
"The dollar value of that bike is fairly minimal, probably a couple hundred dollars, but the sentimental value to Spalding University, as they say in television advertising, priceless," said Rick Barney, Spalding's chief marketing officer.
No one has been caught on surveillance video so far. The University wants the bike returned, no questions asked.
"We haven't thought if we are going to hang another bike if we don't get the bike returned," Barney said. "We do have a variety of ideas in play right now
for something more permanent as far as an exhibit or display."
The facilities manager noticed the bike was missing Friday morning. The University says there is no LMPD investigation. The University is handling the case instead.
Isaiah Camble, a freshman says, "It's pretty crazy, kind of crazy. Last night, we was all here for an event. It's historical cause he just passed away like last month, that's just -- who would do that for real?"
Barney says, "My guess would be the individual thought it was the bike that Cassius Clay used and had stolen way back in 1954. It obviously is not. It's a similar bike from that time period, but not the actual bike."
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