A bronze plaque outside one of Valparaiso’s largest factories says, “Dedicated by Muhammad Ali on July 15, 2000.”

The late heavyweight champion and Olympic gold medalist Muhammad Ali, widely regarded as one of the most important sports figures of all time, visited Valparaiso in 2000 to dedicate the Pratt Industries factory at 3155 Ind. 49. The Pratt facility is also a boxer of sorts, making recycled corrugated boxes for Amazon, Home Depot, Procter & Gamble, 3M, Nestle, Smirnoff, Unilever, the Pampered Chef and other big companies.

Ali was friends with Pratt Industries Executive Chairman Anthony Pratt, who could not be reached for comment for this story, but posted many tributes to the champ on Twitter and Instagram after his June 3 death. The Australian billionaire said on social media he had known Ali since 1995.

“Thank you Muhammad Ali for your kindness to me,” he tweeted.

Pratt posted several photos of him hanging out with Ali: at dinner, in a sports stadium and at the factory in Valparaiso, where Pratt has invested half a billion dollars since 2000.

The “cardboard king,” who’s built one of the largest paper recycling companies in the world and whose company is the largest private-sector employer in Valparaiso, attended Ali’s funeral in Louisville, Kentucky and has served on the board of the Muhammad Ali Center since 2005. He said on social media he was proud to promote Ali’s message of civil rights and religious tolerance.

“Farewell to a great man, who said to me ‘don’t look down on those who look up to you’,” he tweeted.


Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.