May 04, 2015
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A real estate investor wanting to restore Muhammad Ali's boyhood home in Kentucky has a new business partner in his corner.
Philadelphia lawyer George Bochetto said Monday that he has acquired a half interest in the small frame house in Louisville where the three-time heavyweight boxing champion grew up as a precocious boy named Cassius Clay.
Bochetto becomes a partner with Jared Weiss of Las Vegas in the venture to restore the home to how it looked when Ali lived there decades ago.
"It's a remarkable piece of history," said Bochetto, a former Pennsylvania state boxing commissioner.
Bochetto didn't disclose how much he paid to gain an equal share in the home.
Weiss bought the house for $70,000 in 2012, but his plans to restore the house had seemingly stalled. Bochetto hopes to inject new energy and money into the project.
Restoring the house exterior and interior could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, Bochetto said.
"We're going to be self-funded on this whole project," he said. "There's not going to be any obstacles to our accomplishing what we want to do, at least no financial obstacles."
Bochetto counts himself among the former champ's admirers. Ali was in his prime during "the golden era of heavyweights, and he was the best of the best," Bochetto said.
The new partners "share the same vision" for the home, but they are still working out details about their plans to restore the house as a tribute to the boxing great and humanitarian, he said.
"We're certainly not getting into this thing to try to run a tourist trap and make money," Bochetto said. "To me, that would be completely demeaning of the historic significance of this house."
The project will include purchasing an adjacent property that has a vacant house on it. The property could be used for parking or for a reception center for visitors, though plans haven't been finalized, Bochetto said.
The investors have a contract to purchase the property for $50,000, current owner Lawrence Montgomery Sr. said.
Montgomery, who lives across the street, said the old Clay house already draws plenty of visitors, including people in tour buses. They stop to take pictures and read a historical marker, he said. Montgomery said he's glad the plans to restore the home may be making headway.
"It's been sitting over there for two or three years idle, nothing going on," he said.
Montgomery remembers Ali as a "very jolly, happy" youngster, "always running up and down the street."
The Courier-Journal first reported Bochetto's involvement in the venture.