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Jun 10, 2016 6:45 PM

Muhammad Ali's legacy remembered in unique Hooksett 'museum'

HOOKSETT — Muhammad Ali was a three-time heavyweight champion. But he also packed a powerful, cultural punch outside of the boxing ring.

Thousands of people attended his funeral services in Louisville, Kentucky - his hometown - Friday. Here in the Granite State, we take you through his career, remembering his life and legacy through dozens of memories in a unique collection.

An everlasting image welcomes you into Stephen Singer's memorabilia from Ali's career — a photo was taken in 1965 when Ali knocked out Sonny Liston in the first round.

"[He's] standing over him, looking like he's carved out of granite," Singer said. "[It's] perhaps the most iconic sports photo of all time."

His pieces are on display in the winding halls of the offices at his business, Merchants Auto in Hooksett.

Singer was star-struck after meeting Ali by chance when he was in college in New York City. It wasn't long after that before Singer started building his collection. Years later in 2002, the two met again when Singer was preparing a piece of Ali art to donate to a charity.

"Ali liked it so much, he said 'you can't donate it to the auction, I want it for my own, personal collection,'" Singer said. "We said 'You're welcome to it, but we have to hand it to you personally.'"

A photo with the Olympic gold medalist is invaluable to Singer, but he's also grateful that he's been able to collect autographs from 49 of the 50 boxers that Ali faced throughout his boxing career.

"That was a tremendous undertaking," Singer said. "It took several years... The fellow's name is Jim Robinson, there's been many stories written on him...nobody was ever able to locate him."

Singer has several unforgettable pieces, like the original X-ray from when Kenny Norton delivered a heavy punch to Ali in an early round.

"It really stung Ali; he fought through it," Singer said. "At the end of the fight he had to go to the hospital. They took an X-Ray and found our Ali's jaw was in fact broken."

His collection also includes a life-sized sculpture of Ali, but with an extra inch added because he says Ali was larger than life. Another noteworthy piece is a one-of-a kind piece with a 3D collage of artifacts associated with Ali, like his famous quote, "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee." Singer says the best part of his legendary career was outside of the sport.

"He used his boxing platform to help make the world a better place," Singer said. "Ali was an incredible boxer, but even a more impressive figure as a humanitarian."

Ali suffered from Parkinson's disease in his later years. On June 3, 2016, at the age of 74, he passed away from septic shock.

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