Spalding University honors Muhammad Ali by renaming athletic bui - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Spalding University honors Muhammad Ali by renaming athletic building

Posted: Updated:

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Spalding University is honoring Muhammad Ali by renaming its athletic building on what would have been "The Champs" 76th birthday. 

The building on South Fourth Street is once again called the Columbia Gym.  That's where Louisville Police Officer Joe Martin was running a boxing gym in the basement in 1954. 

A 12-year-old Cassius Clay went to a Louisville Service Club event at the building and parked his new red Schwinn bicycle outside.  When he came back out the bike had been stolen. Clay told Officer Martin about his bike being stolen and how he planned to "whup" whoever took it. 

Martin told Clay that before he decided to fight anyone he better learn how.  So the future Muhammad Ali started training in Martin's Columbia Gym before launching a boxing career that made him famous around the world.

When Ali died in 2016, officials at Spalding University hung a red 50s era Schwinn above the entrance to the building. A series of photo panels have been placed on the wall in the lower level of the building that detail Ali's chance meeting with the police officer that changed the path of his life. 

Spalding acquired the building years after Ali trained there, but he had other ties to the school. As a teenager, he worked across the street from Columbia Gym in Spalding's library, and he maintained a lifelong friendship with members of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth who ran the college. 

Copyright 2018 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.

Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 WDRB. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.