Frederick T. Stoner of Louisville, Kentucky, passed away more than 40 years ago, in 1981. His granddaughter says that he didn’t get the accolades he deserved while he was alive.
Stoner might not be a household name, but he had a big impact in the Bluegrass State and on the world. As a boxing trainer, he mentored and encouraged a young Louisville native—amateur Cassius Clay, later known as Muhammad Ali.
Born in 1908, Stoner guided boxers at the Grace Presbyterian Community Center on Hancock Street in Louisville’s Smoketown neighborhood. Muhammad Ali would later say, “He taught me all I know.”
The City of Louisville honored Fred Stoner in June 2022 at an outdoor public celebration that featured music, food, games, and amateur sparring. Among the crowd of proud Kentuckians who turned out to recognize him was Thomas Bishop Jr., now 90 years old, another boxer who was trained by “Freddy” back in the day.
Related to the “sweet science” of boxing: Fans could soon have a massive bronze medal to add to their collections. A bill is making its way through Congress to award a Congressional Gold Medal in honor of Muhammad Ali. Introduced in February 2021 by Representative André Carson of Indiana, the bill notes Ali’s life as an athlete, humanitarian, diplomat, and role model:
Muhammad Ali, known simply as “The Greatest,” transcended the glamour and glory of being a sports champion to become not only one of the greatest sports figures, but one of the greatest role models of our time.
In addition to authorizing a gold medal to be given to Ali’s widow, the bill also includes this language that will interest collectors and fans:
[The Secretary of the Treasury] may strike and sell duplicates in bronze of the gold medal . . . at a price sufficient to cover the cost of the bronze medals (including labor, materials, dies, use of machinery, and overhead expenses) and the cost of the gold medal.
The United States Mint, which produces Congressional Gold Medals, typically offers bronze duplicates in 1.5-inch and 3-inch sizes. The larger format is especially impressive for display.
If the Congressional Gold Medal comes to pass, this prestigious national recognition of Muhammad Ali would also be a tip of the hat to his old boxing trainer, Kentucky’s largely unsung but very influential Mr. Freddy Stoner.
An important note about helping Kentucky after the recent floods: Earlier this week the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels’ Board of Trustees committed $1 million to emergency relief and rebuilding efforts across flood-ravaged eastern Kentucky. General Gary Boschert, Board of Trustees chair, said, “We learned, from our recent experiences with partners in western Kentucky tornado relief, that recovery is a long-term commitment, and we will ensure that one hundred percent of contributions toward flood relief will be given to thoroughly vetted nonprofits providing assistance to the citizens and communities of eastern Kentucky.” If you’d like to help the Honorable Order’s relief efforts, you can contribute securely online or mail your contribution to The Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels, 943 South First Street, Louisville, KY 40203 (please note “Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief” on your check’s memo line).
Dennis Tucker is the publisher of Whitman Publishing, a leading producer of books, storage and display supplies, and other resources for collectors and hobbyists. He was commissioned a Kentucky Colonel in March 2021 for his career in book publishing and his promotion of the Commonwealth’s status as an important subject in numismatics. His column “From the Colonel’s Desk” explores the Bluegrass State’s rich connections to American coins, tokens, medals, paper money, private currency, and related artifacts. To read more, visit the “From the Colonel’s Desk” archives.