Muhammad Ali is regarded as the greatest boxer of all-time, but of course, his accomplishments go way beyond just bopping people in the head for a living.
He was a cultural icon and humanitarian with a legacy of fighting for peace and justice around the world.
The man born more than 90 years ago in Louisville, Kentucky is now honored with the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, which chronicles his achievements.
The Muhammad Ali exhibit tells the story of his rise to fame, his name change from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali, his religious background, his arrest for refusing to serve in Vietnam, and of course, his athletic accomplishments.
Interested in visiting? Here’s the scoop on Ali and his museum.
Muhammad Ali’s Life and Career
Muhammad Ali, born Cassius Clay Jr., was a legendary American boxer, activist and philanthropist.
He first rose to prominence in the 1960s as a professional boxer, winning the world heavyweight championship three times over the course of his career.
Known for his incredible speed, agility and showmanship in the ring, Ali’s prowess as a boxer was matched only by his commitment to social justice, which he pursued both publicly and privately throughout his lifetime.
Even after a three-year retirement due to the U.S. government’s refusal to accept his conscientious objector status during the Vietnam War, Ali returned to continue his legacy.
He remained an outspoken advocate for civil rights, actively speaking out against racism and inequality. Ali was also a notable philanthropist, dedicating his time to charities that supported victims of global poverty, violence, and disease.
He passed away in 2016 after suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. His life and legacy continue to inspire people around the world today.
Muhammad Ali Exhibit on Display
The center is based around Ali’s six core guiding principles: confidence, conviction, dedication, giving, respect, and spirituality.
Ali spent his life visiting faraway places like Indonesia, Morocco, and Liberia, delivering food and medical supplies. The United Nations declared him an official United Nations Messenger of Peace.
There’s a wall of photos from Ali’s life. This one is by far the best: Ali with the Dalai Lama. It’s a meeting of two great minds. And even better than that: Ali’s rocking a glorious stache!
You can enter a mini boxing ring to step into Ali’s shoes! How often in life do you get to pretend to be a boxer?
There’s a punching bag on the wall to allow guests to work out their aggression. Show off your best right cross and uppercut! This is a cool interactive Muhammad Ali exhibit since visitors get to put themselves in Ali’s shoes.
The Center has other non-Ali exhibits as well that support its mission. This one highlights the bed-in for peace by John Lennon and Yoko Ono during the Vietnam War.
The center has a lot more to explore, including multimedia presentations that are too complex to be captured in photographs. Even those who aren’t boxing fans will find something of interest here.
Muhammad Ali passed away in 2016 at age 74. In recent years, as the fight for racial justice and equality has (finally) taken center stage in America, this exhibit and museum have taken on new importance and meaning.
Especially since Ali’s only son has shared public comments on these matters that are complete lunacy.
Specifics for Visiting the Muhammad Ali Center
The facility cut back its hours during covid, and has yet to restore them. As of this writing, the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville is open only from Wednesday through Sunday, noon to 5 pm.
A single ticket for admission costs $18 per adult, $15 for seniors and military, and $10 for students.
The Ali Center is part of Museum Row, which also includes attractions like the Kentucky Science Center, Frazier History Museum, and the Louisville Slugger Museum, aka home of the world’s largest bat.
You can get a single ticket for all nine attractions for a total of $83, which is a good deal if you were already planning to visit most of them.
Make sure to also visit Churchill Downs while you’re in the city! Also check out this list of things that surprised me about Kentucky, including the painted horse statues and the amount of street art.
Louisville is a good road trip destination for folks in the Midwest, especially from Chicago.