CINCINNATI — A pair of boxing gloves is set to become the newest item on display at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center Tuesday.
Not just any boxing gloves: These mitts are signed by “The Greatest,” Muhammad Ali, who died Friday after multiple years of various health problems.
Ali visited the museum several times since it opened in 2004, according to museum president, Clarence Newsome.
Joining a long list of local, national and international leaders remembering the boxer for more than just his time in the ring, Newsome praised Ali’s sense and appreciation for personal independence.
“Muhammad Ali represents — and I would even say personifies — the best of what it means to be a free individual,” Newsome said. “He spoke his mind but he spoke it responsibly.”
Newsome, who also was involved with the founding of the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, met Ali at a White House event in 2001, where he said he was able to get a photo with a gracious and unassuming Ali.
“I didn’t have to say to him that I was a consultant for the founding of his museum,” Newsome recalled.
Newsome also reflected on Ali’s staunch, vocal opposition to the Vietnam War, which resulted in the stripping of his heavyweight title. Ali often attributed his opposition to his Muslim faith.
The Freedom Center is not the only local institution to claim a connection to The Greatest: WCPO's own sports anchor John Popovic interviewed the athlete while he was getting a haircut at Stag's Barber Shop in Avondale in the summer of 1979.
Newsome said the gloves will be on display for a few days, starting Tuesday, but did not say specifically how long.