ORWIGSBURG, SCHUYLKILL COUNTY – (WBRE/WYOU) People from all around the country stopped in Schuylkill County, Saturday.
They walked the training camp that was a monumental place for the late, great boxing champion Muhammad Ali.
A step into Fighter’s Heaven is a step back in time to 1971. That’s when heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali began training there.
“I haven’t been here since probably the late seventies. So the way they kept it up is beautiful. That’s exactly how his room looked,” said visitor Karen Buono.
Buono’s karate teacher used to take her class to the training camp. She remembers seeing Ali here.
“He was so down to earth. We would have lunch here. He couldn’t have been more hospitable,” Buono said.
Fighter’s Heaven has been a 3-year long project for owner Mike Madden. After he purchased the property, he got in touch with Gene Kilroy, a close friend and business manager of Ali. Kilroy donated the pictures you see on the walls, to Madden.
“It dawned on me. These pictures don’t belong in my office in California. They belong on the walls of Deer Lake,” said Madden.
Visitors came out to see the historic site which features pictures and rocks bearing the names of other famous boxers.
You get beautiful scenery, pieces of history, and a feeling of magic when you step onto Fighter’s Heaven.
The training camp brings back memories for fellow heavyweight boxing champion Tim Witherspoon who learned from and admired Ali.
“All these million of people in the world and I have a chance to be involved with, and box and train with the greatest of all time,” said Witherspoon.
Madden met Ali 3 times before he passed. He and those close to the boxing legend knew turning the property into a place to remember Ali’s legacy was the best.
“This is the mecca of boxing here. Everyone wants to come and see it,” said Kilroy.
Making a trip to Fighter’s Heaven is free.
Also, Saturday’s grand opening served as a fundraiser to benefit the human service organization, “Avenues” which supports people with disabilities.
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