Muhammad Ali receives Sports Illustrated's 'Legacy' award - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Muhammad Ali receives Sports Illustrated's 'Legacy' award

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Former Ali boxing opponent George Foreman. He was speaker at ceremony. Former Ali boxing opponent George Foreman. He was speaker at ceremony.
Muhammad Ali at Sports Illustrated tribute ceremony at Muhammad Ali Center in Lou., Oct. 1, 2015. WDRB News photo. Muhammad Ali at Sports Illustrated tribute ceremony at Muhammad Ali Center in Lou., Oct. 1, 2015. WDRB News photo.
Former Ali boxing opponent Larry Holmes Former Ali boxing opponent Larry Holmes
Shaquille O'Neal sits with Muhammad Ali at ceremony. Shaquille O'Neal sits with Muhammad Ali at ceremony.
Ali is handed SI award at ceremony. Ali is handed SI award at ceremony.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Muhammad Ali received Sports Illustrated’s “Legacy” award Thursday at the Ali Center in Louisville.

The Legacy Award was created back in 2008 to honor athletes that have risen to the occasion and used their stature and leadership to change the world for the better. This is only the third time the award has been given.

Ali also appears on this week’s cover of Sports Illustrated for the 39th time. The only other person who has been on the cover more is Michael Jordan with 50 appearances. Ironically, or perhaps purposefully, Thursday marks the 40th anniversary of the legendary “Thrilla in Manila” fight between Ali and Joe Frazier. Several big names came to the ceremony Thursday to honor Ali including former heavyweight champions George Forman and Larry Holmes.

“If I tell you he’s the greatest boxer, the greatest athlete, I'd be lying,” Forman said. “But the greatest man I’ve ever met? That's Muhammad Ali.”

“If Muhammad Ali had not been a boxer, I never even would have thought about boxing,”  Holmes said.

However, in addition to receiving the award, the Legacy Award is also being renamed the Muhammad Ali Legacy Award.

“Somebody brought up the point, hey maybe, we should name this to the Muhammad Ali Legacy Award.,” said Sports Illustrated Group Editor Paul Ficthenbaum. “There was no dissension in the room. Everyone said ‘that’s a great idea.’”

“When I was featured on my first Sports Illustrated cover in 1963, it was a huge turning point in my career,” Muhammad Ali said in an emailed statement. “Ever since, Sports Illustrated has been there documenting the great moments of my life, a relationship that has been integral to both my boxing career and now, the mission and legacy of the Muhammad Ali Center. It’s a relationship for which I will always be grateful. To have an award named in my honor by Sports Illustrated is something I could have never expected as a young man back in 1963 when I posed for that first cover. I am truly touched. I know there will be a great tradition of champions to receive this award in the future and I look forward to celebrating their spirit and accomplishments.” 

All photos Copyright 2015 WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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