New book celebrates Louisville Ky’s dirt bowl


Louisville, Ky., – On Thursday, February 25, from 5:00-8:00 PM, the Louisville Story Program will be celebrating the publication of “I Said Bang!: A History of the Dirt Bowl” with a free event at the Muhammad Ali Center featuring author readings, book signings (books will be available for $20.00), and remarks from local community leaders.Cocktail hour begins at 5:00, and the program begins at 6:00.

In 1969, amid the turmoil of the civil rights era, two college students started the Dirt Bowl, a summer-long outdoor basketball tournament in Louisville’s Algonquin Park. Since then, generations of people have bonded, reunited, competed, laughed, shown off, and celebrated one another at the Dirt Bowl.

I Said Bang! is a book about 46 years of building community through basketball, written by 37 people who have contributed to and been shaped by the Dirt Bowl tradition: organizers, players, spectators, announcers, referees, vendors, and coaches. This book weaves together their stories and experiences to paint an impressionistic portrait of the Dirt Bowl and the community that nurtures and sustains it.

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The Louisville Story Program helps historically underrepresented Louisville residents write and publish books about their lives and neighborhoods. “I Said Bang!” is LSP’s second project. Its first book, “Our Shawnee,” was the best-selling book in Louisville in 2014.

Contributors to “I Said Bang!” include: Darrell Griffith, Derek Anderson, Jason Osborne, Phillip Bond, Wade Houston, Cornell Bradley, James Caldwell, Janis Carter, Ravon Churchill, David Cosby, Ralph Cox, Ray Cunningham, Howard Duncan, Stephanie Edwards, Paul Gardner, Shawn Grady, Gerald Gray, Wilbur Hackett, Carlo Hayes, Tanisha A. Hickerson, Elwood Johnson, Jay Johnson, Chester King, Ron King, David McConico, Thurman Mitchell, Robert Mitchem, Jamico Morrs,  Valerie Owens-Combs, Dee Dee Polk, Neal Robertson, Jason Rushin, Nathaniel R.A. Spencer, Dallas Thornton, George Tinsley, Michael Turner, and Ben Watkins.

Donald Lassere, President and CEO of the Muhammad Ali Center, says, “It is a pleasure to once again be associated with the Louisville Story Program’s new publication.  The notion of helping underserved Louisville residents become published authors by telling their unique stories is both uplifting and is in tandem with the Ali Center’s mission. This program builds community and tears down barriers and misconceptions. Mostly, it shines a light on important stories that make Louisville who we are.” Darcy Thompson, director of the Louisville Story Program, says, “Like Muhammad Ali, the Dirt Bowl has had impacts well beyond the arena of sports. We are honored to collaborate with the Muhammad Ali Center for this event, as their involvement helps underscore that legacy and elevate the voices and stories of the people who have helped make the Dirt Bowl such a vital community tradition.”

Embargoed copies of the book are available upon request. The book will be available for purchase at the Louisville Story Program’s website and in local bookstores.