Muhammad Ali awards to honor humanitarian efforts

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In this Sept. 13, 2012 photo, boxing great Muhammad Ali, center, waves alongside his wife Lonnie Ali, left, and his sister-in-law Marilyn Williams, right, after receiving the Liberty Medal during a ceremony at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)
 

by Bruce Schreiner
Associated Press Writer
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Boxing great Muhammad Ali wants to recognize the greatness of people waging their own fights for peace and social justice.

The former three-time heavyweight champion plans to be in his hometown of Louisville, Ky., for the presentation of the first-ever Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards on Oct. 3. The award winners were not immediately identified but will come from places around the world, the Muhammad Ali Center said Tuesday.

The awards revolve around core principles espoused by Ali, with an emphasis on the humanitarian works of young adults, the center said.

Ali’s wife said the awards embody her husband’s efforts to inspire good deeds by others.

“Of course he is proud of his accomplishments in the ring, but Muhammad’s proudest moments are those where he is able to touch the lives of others in positive and sometimes profound ways,” Lonnie Ali said in a statement. “Muhammad is a living example of how one person can inspire and improve the lives of others.”

A half-dozen awards will honor people ages 35 and under for making significant contributions to the causes of peace, social justice and other humanitarian efforts, the center said. Awards will be given for exemplifying each of those principles — confidence, conviction, dedication, giving, respect and spirituality.

“The Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards is his opportunity to formally recognize some of these young people for the good works they do and to encourage them and others to begin and continue to do good in their own communities and hopefully extend that good to the global community,” Lonnie Ali said.

Other presentations will be for a Humanitarian of the Year Award, a Lifetime Achievement Award and a Kentucky Humanitarian of the Year Award.

Ali and his wife are members of the selection committee.

Award presenters will include Ali’s daughter Laila Ali, a boxing champion herself, the center said.

The awards ceremony will be at the Galt House Hotel in downtown Louisville. It will be part of a three-day celebration at the Ali Center.

On Oct. 2, the Ali Center said, it will host the U.S. premiere of the HBO Films presentation of “Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight.” The film looks at Ali’s historic Supreme Court battle from behind closed doors.

Ali was stripped of his heavyweight crown in 1967 for refusing to be drafted for military service during the Vietnam War. He cited his religious beliefs as the reason for his refusal.  His decision resulted in a draft-evasion conviction. Ali found himself embroiled in a long legal fight that ended in 1971, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in his favor.

Ali regained the heavyweight title in 1974, defeating George Foreman in the “Rumble in the Jungle.”

On Oct. 4, the Ali Center will host the Louisville premiere of Bill Siegel’s film, “The Trials of Muhammad Ali.” The film looks at some of the defining moments of Ali’s life, including his conversion to Islam and his refusal to serve in the military.

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