Muhammad Ali's Cherry Hill house up for auction Sept. 8

A landscaper works at the Tuscan-style villa in Cherry Hill where Muhammad Ali and his family lived in 1971-74. The 10,000-square-foot house has five bedrooms, remote-controlled gates, and a glass hot-tub room. TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
A landscaper works at the Tuscan-style villa in Cherry Hill where Muhammad Ali and his family lived in 1971-74. The 10,000-square-foot house has five bedrooms, remote-controlled gates, and a glass hot-tub room. TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer (TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer)
Posted: August 30, 2012

A 10,000-square-foot Tuscan-style villa in Cherry Hill that boxing great Muhammad Ali bought in 1971 and sold in 1974 is scheduled for auction on Sept. 8.

The five-bedroom, 41/2-bath house at 1121 Winding Dr., off Kresson Road, is listed at $1.9 million, according to Trend, the region's Multiple Listing Service.

The auction will be conducted by Robert Salvato, of AC Auctions L.L.C. of Ventnor. Patricia Friedrichs, of Prudential Fox & Roach Realtors, is the listing agent for the house, which was completely renovated after Ali sold it for $175,000 to Anthony J. Micale, 74, president of Micale Management Corp. of Cherry Hill and owner/operator of 10 area McDonald's restaurants.

Zillow, the real estate search engine, says Micale has had the house on and off the market several times since 2001.

Though the social activist/former heavyweight champion has not lived there for 38 years, Friedrichs said, "it still has the mystique of being Muhammad Ali's house."

She described the property as one-of-a-kind. The auction is designed to create a sense of excitement and draw as many serious prospective bidders as possible, Friedrichs said.

Over the years, Micale has made substantial changes, turning an outdoor atrium created by Ali into a garden area with a 2-foot-deep decorative pool with 33 jets, for example.

Among other features of the house, which is surrounded by walls and accessed through remote-controlled gates: a state-of-the-art kitchen with attached greenhouse eating area; an inground pool; tennis and volleyball/shuffleboard courts; a gazebo; a playground; a three-car garage; a glass hot-tub room, and au pair/in-law quarters with a separate entrance.

An auction preview is set for noon Wednesday. Information is available at www.acauctions.net or 1-855-243-6694. See a virtual tour here.

Ali was living in the Green Hill Farms section of Philadelphia before his first fight with local favorite Joe Frazier in 1971, when Major B. Coxson, described as a "flamboyant underworld figure" who once ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Camden, showed him what the boxer called a "sweet Spanish hacienda" in Cherry Hill.

In an interview at the time, Ali told Maury Z. Levy of Philadelphia magazine that "the house needed a lot of work done to it, so I put another $150,000 into it."

"Plus I paid $115,000," Ali told Levy - records show the sale price at $108,000 - "and I made a little mansion out of it. I've got a lot of land. There's an acre and a half around it."

Back then, Brian Brady, now of Solana Beach, Calif., was a 10-year-old living in Cherry Hill, where his mother sold houses to many of the Philadelphia Flyers.

Brady said Tuesday that he thinks Ali moved to the area "to rattle Joe Frazier's cage."

"We'd see him around town, heading to the Cherry Hill Inn, where he trained," he said. "I think the training sessions were open, but we kids were all Frazier fans, so we didn't go."

"It wasn't his politics or anything. It was just that we backed the local guy," said Brady, adding that he and Ali both lived later in the Scottsdale, Ariz., area, "where the champ was involved in a lot of philanthropic activities."

Ali fought Frazier again in 1974. About that time, he sold the Winding Drive house and was living at the Towers of Windsor Park on Chapel Avenue. In the interview with Levy, Ali said he was planning to build a larger house in Cherry Hill, "a 65-acre farm with a house on it, horses, barns and everything."

That didn't happen. Coxson, whom Ali playfully called "the gangster," according to Levy, had been bound and shot at a house he was renting on Barbara Drive in Cherry Hill in 1973, along with his companion and her three children. Coxson and his companion's daughter died - the victims of what police called a hit over a failed heroin deal between the Philadelphia and New York mobs.


Contact Alan J. Heavens at 215-854-2472, aheavens@phillynews.com or @alheavens at Twitter.

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