In a time when the civil rights movement was at its peak and racial divides spread deep and wide, one African American teen and eleven established white businessmen joined together for the sake of success, boxing and the future of “The Greatest,” Muhammad Ali.

In today’s blog, we’re combining history and present day to show how knowledgeable teams (in this case, the Louisville Sponsoring Group and The Crowley Company) can provide already successful entities (Muhammad Ali and the Muhammad Ali Center) with the tools they need to be even better.

Boxing May Be a Solo Sport, But It’s Not a Solo Effort

Muhammad Ali (then known as Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr.) unwittingly started his boxing career at twelve years old when his red Schwinn bicycle was stolen and he told a police officer — who also happened to train boxers — he wanted to “whup” the thief. The officer, Sergeant Joe Martin, took Ali under his wing and into the history books. By eighteen years old, Ali had proved his impressive abilities as an amateur fighter and, later that year, on the world’s stage by winning the gold medal in the light heavyweight boxing division at the 1960 Rome Olympics.

Inspired by Ali’s prowess as a boxer, eleven business magnates from Ali’s hometown of Louisville, Kentucky – spanning the tobacco, alcohol, advertising, transportation, banking and news industries – realized that Ali had the physical ability, strong heart and sharp mind that could propel him (and themselves by association) to impressive heights in and out of the ring.

The eleven, a savvy but sincere group, recognized a threefold opportunity. With their combined expertise, they could protect the interests of a rising local hero, keeping him from the unpleasant fate of boxers before him; they could elevate a sport oftentimes known for mismanagement, crooked dealings and underworld shenanigans (something they knew well from the early days of horse racing); and they could share in Ali’s success if he turned out to be the boxer and personality they thought he was.

Convinced he was, the backers, along with an attorney specializing in tax law, created a trust called the Louisville Sponsoring Group. With Ali’s agreement, they would advise his career and manage his finances. For Ali, the risk was solely to his independence; as their group members were already wealthy, theft was not a threat. From 1960-1965, the group oversaw Ali’s training, fight agreements, promotional deals, living arrangements, expenses, income taxes and more. Eventually, Ali left the Louisville Sponsoring Group in favor of other financial council but he and the members remained on good terms.

59 years later, the 7,500 pages of documents that chronicle this partnership play a crucial role in telling the story of Ali and the group – a story that crosses racial divides and illustrates how Ali was able to create and maintain the financial foundation that would later enable him to pursue his extensive philanthropic and activistic endeavors.

Archiving “The Greatest”

Established in 2005, the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville is a non-profit museum, education and cultural center that operates to preserve and promote Ali’s bold legacy and core principles. As a relatively young institution, the Ali Center has, in part, spent their formative years establishing their physical archives. Recently, they have begun digitizing collections for preservation and eventual online access.

The Louisville Sponsoring Group records were chosen for digitization first due to their rarity and fragility. The Ali Center’s manager of collections, Casey Harden, impresses, “These files are the only ones of their kind. The documents, in particular the letters between the trust and Ali’s manager, Angelo Dundee, give insight into Ali’s training, financial status and even how his house was furnished…great details that aren’t documented anywhere else.”

She continues, “The pages are delicate and some of the ink is beginning to fade due to age. By digitizing the files, we eliminate unnecessary handling when fulfilling research requests [and thus, further damage], preserve the information and create copies in case of disaster. The scanned images will eventually be accessible to researchers worldwide via an online archive, helping us to further transmit Ali’s beliefs and legacy.”

The files also contain rare information on another significant figure in black history, civil rights activist and the first female black prosecutor in Louisville, Alberta Jones. Jones served as Ali’s attorney and negotiated the initial agreement with the Louisville Sponsoring Group, particularly noteworthy during the heat of the civil rights movement. Jones served as a co-trustee on the agreement until she was murdered in 1965. Her case remains unsolved. Through the preservation of these documents and her association with Muhammad Ali, her legacy and groundbreaking achievement are also remembered.

The Ali Center chose Crowley Imaging, The Crowley Company’s digitization services division, as their partner for this inaugural digitization project. Harden recalls, “Once we spoke with Meghan O’Brien [Crowley’s senior imaging specialist], we knew that we had a match. Her knowledge helped us navigate the complexities of first-time digitization and her personality is such that no matter how many questions we asked, she set our minds at ease.”

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. – African proverb

Just as the Louisville Sponsoring Group strove to bolster Ali’s success, Crowley aimed to do the same for the Ali Center.

The initial project of a digital archive sets the foundation for the projects that follow. For a vendor, understanding the end use of the images is crucial in knowing the proper resolutions, file formats and special considerations (such as OCR searchability) needed. Through consultations, test samples and comprehensive pre- and post-digitization processes, Crowley and the Center ensured a solid jumping off point for the Ali Center’s future digital archive.

O’Brien advised the safest method of capture for the fragile documents was non-destructive scanning on overhead Zeutschel scanners, which are equipped with gentle lighting and are known for the high quality of their captured images. A collection sample was scanned as a pilot and digital images were returned for approval. In this manner, any needed adjustments were made prior to project kick off.

For security, the bankers’ boxes holding the files were personally transported by a Crowley representative from Louisville, KY to Frederick, MD for scanning. When the final images were scanned and approved, the materials were driven back to the Center. Final images were output to high resolution TIFF files and keyword searchable PDFs, which allow easy online research. The Ali Center chose to enter their own metadata and will store the images for internal use until their digital archive infrastructure is complete.

“Having these records digitally accessible to researchers, many of whom contact us from overseas, will help shed a light on parts of Ali’s history that reach far beyond boxing, including the stories of Jones’ and the eleven in the sponsoring group,” said Harden.

Continuing the Gospel of Ali

Muhammad Ali is still speaking his values through the mouthpiece of The Ali Center. His tenets are ones that inspire persons of any race, age and nation to seek ‘The Greatest’ in themselves and their communities. We are honored to have a part in preserving his legacy.

Next up for the Muhammad Ali Center? Digitizing two scrapbooks donated by William Faversham, Jr., Ali’s manager of record and the founder and push behind the Louisville Sponsoring Group.

P.S. While researching this blog, I came across a video of Muhammad Ali performing spoken word with accompaniment by Liberace on The Jack Paar Show. This promotional appearance was negotiated during Ali’s time with the Louisville Sponsoring Group. It’s one thing to read about Ali, but his spirit is even more potent when watching him speak. Enjoy!

For more information about the Muhammad Ali Center (or to plan your visit to the archives), click here.

Click here to read about other Black history preservation projects Crowley has had the pleasure of supporting.


Crowley’s experienced imaging experts, well-rounded digitization solutions and network of industry professionals are on-hand to educate and support first-time and ongoing digitization projects that works best for your institution, collection and desired end-result.

For more information on the conversion services offered by Crowley Imaging or the scanners that can be purchased for your own digitization efforts, please visit our website or call (240) 215-0224 or click here.

An exhibition unlike any other, paying homage to the most prolific scorers of our generations. 
Witness the greatest compilation of milestone artifacts and rare personal memorabilia, all
hand-picked by Hockey Hall of Fame curators from the Howe and Gretzky family collections.
Revel in the legacy and indelible bond of ‘Mr. Hockey’ and ‘The Great One’.
On now for a limited-time through March, 2020. Don’t miss it

Limited-time exhibit celebrates their storied careers and the indelible bond between these two Legends

The Hockey Hall of Fame officially opens a 2,000 square foot exhibit that pays homage to the NHL’s most prolific goal scorers,  “Mr. Hockey ” and “The Great One”, titled ‘9 & 99 : The Howe Ÿ Gretzky Exhibit’.   This comprehensive tribute explores, through mirrored individual displays, how each legend transcended the game for their respective generations, while highlighting the similarities in their Hall of Fame careers.  The more than 150 historic artifacts hand-picked by Hall of Fame curators from the Howe and Gretzky family collections range in years from 1946’s Detroit Red Wings jacket presented to Howe as a “signing bonus” all the way to Gretzky’s final NHL game in 1999.  The display also incorporates various multi-media, captivating video vignettes and rare photos.

Featured items in the exhibit include Howe’s gloves from his first Stanley Cup (1952),  Gretzky’s first pair of skates (early 1960’s),  Howe 2000th point stick (1974 – 75) and Gretzky’s 2000th point puck (1990 – 91), Gretzky’s 92nd stick/puck and his stick from his 212 point season (all from 1981-82), stick and puck from Howe’s 801 NHL goal (April 6, 1980) and Gretzky’s record breaking 802 goal stick and puck (March 23, 1994), Howe’s last All-Star Jersey (1980) in which he played with Gretzky,  Gretzky’s equipment from his last game (April 18, 1999) and Howe and Gretzky’s Order of Canada.  Both legends had the customary three-year waiting period in the Player Category waived for immediate induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame; Howe in 1972 (he came out of retirement in 1973), and Gretzky in 1999.

“Highlighting two of the greatest hockey players of all time with this immersive display is fitting,” said Phil Pritchard, Hockey Hall of Fame Vice President, Resource Centre and Curator.  “We would like to thank the Howe and Gretzky families for all of their assistance in helping us with this exhibit and preserving the history of hockey.  We are excited for our guests from around the world to see these historic artifacts and to relive their magnificent careers.”

For more information regarding the Hockey Hall of Fame, visit

Knoxville, IA, March 12, 2019 – The National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum is proud to announce their annual “Salute to Champion” will focus on Texas legend AJ Foyt in 2019.  AJ is a four-time winner of the Indianapolis 500, a Daytona 500 winner and winner of the 24-Hours of Lemans (co-driving with Dan Gurney)…the only driver to accomplish all three feats.  He is also the only seven-time USAC National Championship titlist.  The exhibit runs from May 1 to October 1, 2019.

AJ was a member of the 1990 inaugural class of the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame who also had a legendary career on the dirt tracks.  Away from Indy and Champ cars, he amassed 42 stock car wins, 28 sprint car wins and 20 midget wins under the USAC banner alone.  He was also the 1972 USAC Dirt Champ (now Silver Crown) titlist.  He was also named Co-Driver of the 20th Century by the Associated Press.

“We’re extremely humbled to honor AJ Foyt with this year’s ‘Salute to Champion’,” said Museum Coordinator, Bill Wright.  “Many of us idolized AJ as young race fans.  To list all of his accomplishments in racing would be almost impossible.  We hope that our tribute will both bring back great memories for his fans, but also educate our younger race fans about how awesome his exploits and persona was on and off the track.  We’d be remiss if we didn’t thank Jason Vansickle and his team at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, Tony Stewart, and Jerry Nowicke for their awesome cooperation with us in getting a great lineup of cars.  We’re expecting to have a diverse representation of AJ’s history on the dirt, the bricks and the pavement!”

Seven cars are planned for the display.  Three of Foyt’s Indy 500 wins as well as his rookie car at Indianapolis will be represented.  The cars will include the 1957 Dean Van Lines Monza winner (driven by Jimmy Bryan, and AJ’s Indy Rookie car in 1958), the 1961 Bowes Seal Fast Trevis Roadster Indy 500 winner, the 1967 Sheraton Thompson Coyote Indy 500 winner, the 1974 Steve Stapp sprint car that AJ drove to twin 50-lap feature wins at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, the famous 1974-76 Dirt Champ #14 car, the 1977 Gilmore Coyote Indy 500 winner back-up car, and the Bob Nowicke midget that won the 1961 “Hut Hundred” at Terre Haute (arriving around June 1).

“We’re really excited to be able to tell AJ’s story,” says Wright.  “As has been the case in the past, we’ll have interactive exhibits as well as video to salute our champion.  Our members and race fans are always a big part of our exhibits, and if anyone has anything in mind to loan, we’re always open to that.  In addition, we’re getting close to announcing our first ‘Members Only’ die-cast in several years.  A hint is that it will be associated with AJ Foyt, so stay tuned!”

For more information on the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum and the special events happening here, visit and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!  For more information on the events at Knoxville Raceway, visit

Ryan-Walter Athletics Center (Perkins+Will BE & HOK, Designer) – 425,000 square feet

A state-of-the-art training, competition and recreation facility calls for experiential elements of the highest quality and exacting fit. That’s what Xibitz provided for Northwestern University – in the form of custom-perforated backlit metal ceiling panels evoking the branded letter “N”; an 86-foot-long solid surface enclosure with 7-foot-high custom dimensional letters; large-scale graphics, custom-printed and mounted to canted panels with the school color in a LED lighting wash; and canted glass enclosures highlighting action figure mannequins for seven Olympic sports.

Additionally, Xibitz created a 30-foot-long wall with two towers of touch interactive displays that provide statistics, video, images and descriptions of historic moments, and more; and a 70-foot-long Hall of Honor featuring students who have become professional athletes.

Former All-Star baseball infielder Mark Grudzielanek, gold-medal winning hockey player Allison “AJ” Mleczko, Notre Dame All-American  and Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Mike McCoy, and gold medal-winning martial artist Arlene Limas have been elected into the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame for 2019.

Mark Grudzielanek played 15 seasons in the majors as a second baseman/shortstop with the Expos       (1995-98), Dodgers (1998-02), Cubs (2003-04), Cardinals (2005), Royals (2006-08) and the Indians (2010).  He hit over .300 five times, with a high average of .326 in 1999.  For his career he batted .289 with 2, 040 hits and 640 runs batted in.  Grudzielanek was named to the All-Star team in 1996 , hit for the cycle in 2005, and won a Gold Glove as a second baseman in 2006.

Allison “AJ” Mleczko played college hockey at Harvard, leading the Crimson to the NCAA title in 1999.  In her senior season as captain, she scored 37 goals, 77 assists, and 114 points in only 34 games, the most prolific scoring season in women’s college ice hockey history.  Named to the All-American team, Mleczko won the Patty Kazmaier Award, given to the women’s top college hockey player.  She competed at two Olympics leading her team to the gold medal in 1998 and the silver medal in 2002.

Mike McCoy played college football at Notre Dame where he starred for three years from 1967-1969.  In 1969, the defensive lineman was a consensus All-American, chosen as the UPI lineman of the year, and finished sixth in the Heisman voting.  McCoy was the second player taken in the 1970 NFL Draft chosen by the Green Bay Packers.  He played 11 years in the NFL with the Packers, Raiders, Giants, finishing his last half-season with the Lions.  McCoy was named Packers Rookie of the Year in 1970, and led the Packers in sacks in1973 and 1976.

Arlene Limas is one of the greatest Taekwondo athletes of the 20th century.  She won the gold medal at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, and for her career was undefeated in international competition.  In all, Limas has won nine  National and World Championships.  She was named the collegiate athlete of the year in 1987 and the March of Dimes Amateur Athlete of the Year in 1989.  Limas has been inducted into seven Halls of Fame including the Taekwondo Hall of Fame in 2007.

The 47th Annual Induction Banquet will be Thursday, June 20, 2019, at the American Polish Cultural Center in Troy, Michigan.  Tickets for the banquet, which begins at 5:30 pm., are $125 and can be ordered by calling (313) 407-3300.  Information on the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame is available at

The Sport Australia Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Gala Dinner recently celebrated its 34th edition
at Palladium at Crown Melbourne on Thursday 11th October 2018.

The ‘Stars of the Southern Cross’ event theme was to – Honour the Past, Celebrate the Present and Embrace the Future.

Australian sport’s “Night of Nights” led
by co-hosts Sandy Roberts and Nicole Livingstone, welcomed a capacity crowd of over 1,050 who celebrated the Induction of eight Australian sporting greats into the Hall of Fame. Highlights also included the announcement of five young Australian athletes as recipients of the 2019 Scholarship & Mentoring Program along with their Mentors who are SAHOF Members.

‘The Don’ Winner, Kurt Fearnley, made history as the first athlete with a disability to win the prestigious award and received not one, but two standing ovations and took no self-congratulations. Unquestionably the most remarkable athlete, Kurt had the whole nation watching his acceptance speech in admiration.

To our incredible ISHA members,

As we move on from an incredibly educational and entertaining conference in Santa Clara and look forward to 2019, I first want to thank all of you for your commitment to ISHA. I can assure you that the board of directors is constantly striving to provide you with great value for that commitment.

The annual conference provides outstanding educational and networking opportunities – two things our member surveys show to be of the most value. The organization also gives back through its grant program to help members with special projects and to attend the conference.

Those grants would not be possible without the Founders Fund. I want to thank Lance Van Auken, Jan Ogurcak and the World of Little League Museum for committing to donate half of its visitor donations (up to $1,500) to the Founders Fund for this year. Lance challenged other member institutions to also step up. The Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame immediately followed suit and met the donation challenge, and Leila Dunbar Appraisals and Consulting followed with a generous donation. Also, our annual campaign letter was recently sent to all members. Any contribution you can make to help fellow members is appreciated.

Moving forward, 2019 conference planning is officially underway. Mark your calendar and plan to be in Wichita, Kan., in October. Jordan Poland and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame are excited to be this year’s host. Looking ahead to 2020, ISHA will be heading to scenic Newport, R.I., for its 50th conference.
We are excited for 2019 as we strive to provide support for sports heritage and the institutions that promote it. We also have many vendor members that are a part of our organization, and I encourage you to think of those members when planning your next project.

We need your input and contributions to make the organization thrive to its fullest potential, and we will be encouraging more of that as we head into 2019. We will look to improve educational offerings, continue with our popular hot topic calls, keep you updated on the state of the industry and so much more.

Happy new year to everyone. We, as an organization, cannot succeed without all of you. So thank you again.

Bryan Morry
ISHA president


On October 18, 2018, Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame inducted its newest Hall of Famers. The Class of 2018 includes six athletes and two sport builders who have each contributed a tremendous amount to their sport, communities, and to our country. Their perseverance and success inspire us to be better in sport and in life. The Inductees include:

  • Jeff Adams, six-time World Champion wheelchair racer
  • Damon Allen, four-time Grey Cup champion
  • The late Mary Baker, the first Canadian to sign with the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League
  • Chandra Crawford, Olympic Gold Medallist in Cross Country Skiing
  • Alexandre Despatie, two-time Olympic Silver Medallist for Diving
  • David Keon, four-time Stanley Cup Champion with the Toronto Maple Leafs
  • Sandra Kirby, an accomplished educator, sport administrator, coach and activist fighting sexual harassment and abuse and violence against children in sport
  • Wilton Littlechild, a pioneering role model, organizer and advocate for Indigenous sport

As part of the Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame’s Induction Celebrations, two schools from the Greater Toronto region, Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Mary’s Elementary School, were invited to participate in our education program.  Hall of Famer, Sue Holloway, hosted the program. The excited students were treated to the inaugural public viewing of the outstanding CBC produced video, “What’s in the Hall,” a compilation of some of Canada’s heroes and events from our athletic past. Sue Holloway gave a wonderful presentation on qualities and characteristics of individuals pursuing their goals, achieving high standards, and recognizing the support everyone needs for success. She complimented her presentation with personal photos and anecdotes from her family, training, and competitions.

The highlight of the education program was the introduction of the Inducted Class of 2018. Please visit our website,, for their full biographies and accomplishments. During the students’ question and answer period they related to the challenges they met and overcame during their lives and athletic careers. After, there was a viewing of the Class’ artefacts, autographs opportunities and photos.

Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame NEW EXHIBIT:

It’s officially open! Come check out the 2018 Hall of Famer’s Locker Room Exhibit that features artefacts from all of our Inductees. Come experience the incredible legacy of these Canadian sports legends by seeing artefacts including Chandra Crawford’s skis to Mary “Bonnie” Baker’s All American Girls Professional Baseball League Players Association replicated uniform. You will leave feeling inspired – not just in sport, but in life!