DEER LAKE — An official grand opening will be held at Fighter’s Heaven from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 1, to benefit Avenues in Pottsville, an organization that provides quality services to individuals with disabilities.
The event will serve as a fundraiser for Avenues and commemorate a three-year project for Mike Madden, the owner of the one-time venue for the late great boxing champion Muhammad Ali, who trained for a majority of his big bouts, starting in 1971, at the facility near Deer Lake.
Madden is a son of former Oakland Raiders legendary head coach and longtime NFL television announcer John Madden.
His ambitious takeover of the property on Sculps Hill, which was formerly known as the Muhammad Ali Training Camp, has involved renovating and rejuvenating the historical site.
“All proceeds from the day’s events will be donated to Avenues,” said Madden.
The grand opening will feature guest speakers Gene Kilroy, the man who introduced Ali to the hidden venue; Ali’s brother, Rahman Ali, of Louisville, Kentucky; one-time sparring partners Larry Holmes and Tim Witherspoon and Madden.
The owner, like Ali, believes deeply in contributing back to the area and donating to charities.
The event will enable visitors to tour the camp, which has undergone extensive renovations. The gym features a boxing ring and copied photos that have been donated to Madden by Kilroy, a Mahanoy City native who formerly served as Ali’s business manager. Kilroy lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he is an executive at the MGM Grand Casino.
The gym has a 12-minute video narrated by the late Howard Cosell, whose voice resonated throughout homes in America and abroad. Cosell revisits Ali’s career from his early youth when he won a gold medal in the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, Italy, right through his professional boxing career.