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Fighter’s Heaven: Marking the 4th Year Of Ali’s passing

PhilBoxing.com





June 3, 2016

DEER LAKE, PA. - Kings came to the mountain bearing gifts.

Celebrities and adoring fans, too. To be sure, they remember the Greatest of All Time.

It has been four years since the passing of Muhammad Ali, the most famous professional boxer of all time. However, his spirit lives on here where he trained for his most famous fights; from Joe Frazier to George Forman.

Up on Sclups Hill Ali had a dream of turning this once barren site into a training camp where the secluded hills of Northeastern Pennsylvania afforded the Champ the ideal setting for a warrior as mighty and Muhammad Ali so he could test his God given skills and manly hood in preparing for some of his most brutal and tough fights.

Ali’s longtime business manager and dearest friend Gene Kilroy opened the doors for Ali to have his dream and vision come to fruition. The rest was up to Ali to put together.

“All big corporations have their board room, Muhammad Ali’s boardroom was the logs that he sat upon and met many dignitaries,” is the way Kilroy spoke of his late friend describing this hallowed grounds, not too far from Schuylkill County’s government seat, Pottsville. For it was Kilroy who knew the way since his roots were a stones-throw from this mountain.

That was his throne, Kilroy pointed out. “He felt comfortable sitting on those logs. He would collect his thoughts, great people from all walks of life right after he did his early morning run.”

Kilroy was telling Mike Madden, who invested over a million dollars restoring the camp he needed to put the logs where they originally were located. It took some prodding, but the logs were finally put there during this on-going restoration of Fighter’s Heaven. Madden, who is the son of former NFL Hall of Famer John Madden, took ownership of the 5.5 acres back in mid-July, 2016.



Kilroy remembers like it were yesterday, here where it all began for Ali during his prime starting in late 1971 and ending in late September of 1980, the last time he trained for a fight against The Easton Assassin, Larry Holmes. Ironically, Holmes trained here as well as a sparring partner of Ali’s.

“This is just like the Sixteenth Chapel of Michelangelo in Rome” Kilroy pointed out. “The camp to Ali is his Michelangelo: He designed it he put everything where he wanted it. When you talk about great people, you always want to remember what they have done.”

And they came and came, said Kilroy.

“People came from all over the world,” Kilroy continued. “The Sheik came in from Saudi Arabia, he flew his private airplane into Philadelphia. When The Sheik arrived he was amazed. He brought his family to see the creation of this great place that Ali created. He felt comfortable at (Ali’s) camp.”

Kilroy was the main reason that the camp was brought to this rural sector, a few miles away from where King Coal (Anthracite) was mined during the forging of America in the early 1900s. And Kilroy is grateful for this iconic place to be brought back to life.

“I can’t say enough about Mike Madden, and I know Muhammad Ali is pleased with the work that continues to keep his legacy alive,” Kilroy explained. “(Back in the day) the camp was one of the most visited places just as much as the Liberty Bell and the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia were visited.”

Today Kilroy feels that presence of his dear friend who has now gone four years after his passing on June 3, 2016.

“All praises of thanks should go to Mike Madden,” Kilroy continued about the California real estate developer’s dream continues to emerge. “Everybody brags about walking the grounds, visiting the gym where Muhammad Ali trained. Visiting the restored cabins where the sparring partners trained. And the famous cabin where Ali lived in which he named Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

Kilroy was there from the beginning to the end. He pointed out about the number of sportscasters, sportswriters, television personalities that interviewed Ali. “This truly is one of the great places of our time,” he marveled after one of his many return visits over the past three-plus years.

And thankfully to Gene Kilroy, who showed the way for Muhammad Ali to eventually roam the hills and train for nearly 10 years in this historical venue.




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