NBA legend Karl Malone visits Ali's former training camp

 

An NBA legend who always delivered stepped foot for the first time on the former training ground of a boxer who always stung.

"He walked here. He laid across the bed," said NBA Hall of Famer Karl Malone. "He sat here, sat in that chair. To me, it's a whole combination."

Malone, promoting his new rum, alongside members of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, heralded the history that surrounded him at Ali's former hideaway in Deer Lake, Schuylkill County.

"He meant the world to me, and that's why it's so surreal to me, because he was like my hero growing up," Malone said. "Never thought I would ever meet him."

Thanks to Ali's longtime business manager, Mahanoy City native Gene Kilroy, responsible for documenting many of the images now displayed at the camp, Malone did meet Ali, and the impact was lasting.

"I just wanted him to tell me, 'cuz he made this trip with him a thousand times before," Malone explained. "So, I told Gene when we pull up, I want you to talk to me like I'm him."

Malone stressed the significance of preserving historic places like this in our region.

"I just wish, that here, that they understand the magnitude of what's here," Malone said. "It's so important."

Kilroy essentially gave Ali the key to the Schuylkill County-based site decades ago.

"I was telling Ali about this all along," Kilroy explained, "how the people are so good and all, and he had all different offers, and I brought him to Deer Lake."

For Kilroy, being the right-hand man for sports legends continues.

"My relationship with Karl Malone goes 40 years," Kilroy said. "If you see me with the same guy more than three times, you know he's a great guy."

And he knows, thanks to continued ownership under former NFL legend John Madden's son, Mike, the legend at the camp will continue to grow and attract attention around the world.

"I had one of the big princes from Saudi Arabia," recalled Kilroy. "He flew in to Philly. He came up here. I called Sam [Matta]. He was coming just to see this place."

The camp continues to be open for tours and group gatherings.