The dynamic duo were on a quest - find Muhammad Ali’s house, and NOT get arrested.
By Khadi Madama with Eamo Clyne
The Long and Winding Road by Paul McCartney was going around and around in my head as Eamo Clyne, that blue-collar cat from Dublin and I where on the lookout for the secluded former home of Muhammad Ali and his family in an exclusive upscale community of Cherry Hill, NJ.
As if the long corridor of Route 70 west wasn’t lengthy enough, the idea that Eamo couldn’t get his boxing posts up for the fans on his Facebook page for over an hour - until we emerged back into civilization, was enough to break anyone’s heart.
Not that I didn’t warn him about the lack of a ’tower’ out there in the West country of Ocean County. He simply thought I was exaggerating before we set out. I DO sometimes exaggerate in all fairness, but this time I was attempting to be very clear about no tower.
And so, we found ourselves tossed upon a ribbon of highway, hoping to find and have some kind of access to gain a vision of Ali’s former abode. The Long and Winding Road doesn’t even come close to capturing the lengths to which Eamo and I will go to finding a hidden boxing related gem. Think quest, that’s is.
This is what happened the day we went in search of Ali’s house.
Muhammad Ali had moved to this hidden neighborhood with its winding and narrow streets, after being urged by his friend Major Coxson, a politician in Philadelphia. It seemed that Ali’s tax burden would be far less by moving across the bridge to Cherry Hill, than remaining in Philadelphia.
Back then, the lush property wasn’t protected by the large iron gate that sits up on the roadside – allowing only a partial view of the Ali’s former home, which sits several hundred feet back surrounded by tree’s and large bushes.
Eamo told me that Ali never fought or trained in New Jersey, but we discovered that he was a vital part of his community. The bucolic scenario sounds relaxing enough, but that’s only if you can drive slowly by and let out a sigh of pleasure as you say to yourself, “So, that’s where Ali lived,” as you continue your drive before exiting back out to the hubbub of Route 70.
The blue-collar cat insisted we get closer Ali’s former house. Never mind the security cameras, the current owner’s car in the driveway, or the fact that I’m driving an Electric Lime Green vintage Toyota.
Good thing Eamo had a bit of a tussle trying to get free of his seat belt. “That” allowed me to nonchalantly drive away and out of view of the security cameras, while I tried to explain that I have no intention of calling my family to bake chocolate cakes with files in them - after we’ve been hauled away from the scene of the crime!
“But, how am I supposed to get a photo for the fans?” asked Eamo, whose devotion to his fan base is more important than a little thing like a security breach. I had no answer because my mind was focused on getting away before someone decided to call the police to find out what on earth we were doing.
If only Ali was still living there, he would have come out, opened the gate, and had Eamo inside the house (leaving me hidden under a cloud of dust) in a New York minute. That explains why Eamo was never able to get a decent photo or a photo of himself in front of the house. He was on a mission, and we can’t blame him, to get that purloined photo of “The Greatest’s” house.
I was on a mission to insure that there isn’t a mugshot of him somewhere in a police station in Cherry Hill. We both won. I got to pull away from the scene of the crime before anything untoward happened, while Eamo leaned out of the window of my car (thank heaven he’s very tall and could get a good arm’s length to extend that phone for a shot before I hit one of the speed bumps)
The picture? He got one, but unfortunately not one that he wanted to share, with its motion streaks and blurred image. “The important take away,” I tried to console him, “is that you did what you set out to do. You got here, and under great threat of safety, got a picture and a story about trying to pay your respects to the home of Ali.
Eamo sat back in the car, and gave a resolute deep sigh and then wanted to know how soon the WiFi would be back on. Mission accomplished!
For those of you who live within driving distance of Cherry Hill, NJ and want to risk the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” (to quote the immortal bard of Avon) but who just can’t help yourself, the former Ali home is located at 1121 Winding Dr., Cherry Hill, NJ 08003 and is well worth the trip into lovely Cherry Hill, this is, as long as you don’t mind sacrificing your WiFi connection to get there.