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Louisville preparing for Ali's birthday

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Long before he became the world's most recognizable athlete, a young Cassius Clay honed his skills by sparring with neighborhood friends and running alongside the bus on the way to school in his hometown of Louisville.

The man known worldwide as Muhammad Ali was a baby sitter, a jokester and a dreamer in the predominantly black West End neighborhood where he grew and forged lasting friendship.

Now, the iconic boxer slowed by Parkinson's disease is preparing to turn 70 next week. He's coming home for a birthday bash at the downtown cultural center and museum bearing his name.

Ali turns 70 on Jan. 17, three days after the party.

Ali's childhood neighbor, Lawrence Montgomery Sr., remembers the boy telling him he'd be heavyweight champion of the world someday.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or

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