Kentucky: Muhammad Ali once worked with Sisters of Charity

The late boxing legend Muhammad Ali, was once closely connected with a Catholic religious order, Jessica Able writes in the Record newspaper, published by the Archdiocese of Louisville.

As a young teen, Ali, then known as Cassius Clay, worked at the library of Nazareth College, now-Spalding University. He cleaned and tended the front desk while the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, founders of the school, had dinner.

"He would leave Central High School at 2pm and work in the library until about 6pm. Then, he would go to the Columbia Gym and work out," said Dr Tori Murden McClure, president of Spalding and an athlete who worked with Ali in years past.

Ali learned to box at the Columbia Gym, located in the basement of Columbia Auditorium, which is now the Spalding University Center. He was invited by Joe Martin, a police officer who also worked as a boxing coach. Ali met Martin when the young teen reported his red bike stolen. He never recovered the bike, but his fate was sealed with that encounter. The gym, where Ali first practiced his cutting jabs and fast footwork, is still used by Spalding athletes today.

McClure worked closely with Ali as the first development director of the Muhammad Ali Center. And she spoke of her relationship with the iconic sports figure at Spalding's graduation June 4.

To begin the commencement, McClure read a piece of poetry from the 'Louisville Lip': "Stay in college, get the knowledge, stay there until you're through," she read. "If they can make penicillin out of moldy bread, they can sure make something out of you."

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Tags: Cassius Clay, Louiseville, Muhammad Ali

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