While world said good bye to Muhammad Ali on Friday, Eyewitness News got a look at a Connecticut collection dedicated to the champ.
Bethany resident Rick Kaletsky is a lifelong fan as well as friend of Ali. He even has a museum dedicated to the greatest boxer of all-time.
Kaletsky's Ali collection fills the basement of his Bethany home. He's been growing his collection for decades, but his love for Ali started back in junior high school. Kaletsky actually called collect to then Cassius Clay's Louisville home.
"Ali said, ‘you heard about me all the way up there in Connecticut?’” Kaletsky said. “He did some poetry, told me about the next fight coming up. And over the next 20 years, I'd see him fight live, eight times."
Kaletsky said he even hung out with Ali on a number of occasions. His first piece, a record, his dad gave him. It was called I am the Greatest.
But, one item is near and dear to his heart. It was a post card signed by the champ sent from Africa before Ali's Rumble in the Jungle fight against George Foreman.
Some of the items in the museum are an Ali watch, Ali aftershave, Ali shoe polish and even, "The Louisville Lip Balm."
Then, there is this picture from four years ago. It was taken at Ali's 70th birthday party. In the photo is Ali, Kaletsky and trainer Angelo Dundee. The cake appropriately decorated with butterflies and bees.
In the early 80s, Kaletsky wrote a book about Ali in which the champ called him at 1:30 a.m.
"Picks up the phone it's Muhammad Ali, got your book right here,” Kaletsky said. “[I] had a little more conversation."
When Kaletsky and his wife sent out a birth announcement, they said they never imagined a response. Ali called again to congratulate about the birth.
"She says 'you just missed the call?' 'What call?' Just Muhammad Ali, heard you had a little girl,” Kaletsky said. “God Bless you, that's a pretty fancy thing."
For Kaletsky, it’s not memorabilia, the fights, the loudmouth showman, but rather the memories of the man he'll cherish forever.
"He never looked down on people,” Kaletsky said. “He always had time, time for that autograph, for that hug, for a kid, to listen to people, didn't put himself above anyone, an extremely nice human being, put athlete aside for a moment."
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