Ali receives Liberty Medal in Philadelphia for lifetime role as humanitarian fighter
10:46 GMT, 14 September 2012
Muhammad Ali received another title for his legendary collection on Thursday when he was honoured with a Liberty Medal for his role as a humanitarian fighter.
The boxing legend took centre stage at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia to receive the award for his longtime role outside the ring as a fighter for humanitarian causes, civil rights and religious freedom.
The three-time world heavyweight champion received an honour that his wife, Lonnie Ali, called 'overwhelming'.
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Family affair: Ali receives the award from his daughter Laila in a ceremony which the legendary fighter's family described as 'overwhelming'
She said: 'It is especially humbling for Muhammad, who has said on many occasions, “All I did was to stand up for what I believe”.'
70-year-old Ali, who has battled Parkinson's disease for three decades, stood with assistance to receive the medal from his daughter Laila Ali.
He looked down at his medal for several moments and then waved to the crowd. The award comes with a $100,000 cash prize.
Ali was born Cassius Clay but changed his name after converting to Islam in the 1960s. He refused to serve in the Vietnam War because of his religious beliefs and was stripped of his heavyweight crown in 1967.
A U.S. Supreme Court ruling later cleared him of a draft evasion conviction, and he regained the boxing title in 1974 and again 1978.
Legend: The boxing icon received the award from his daughter Laila for his lifetime role as a fighter for humanitarian causes
One of his most famous fights took place in Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where he battled George Foreman in the 'Rumble in the Jungle' in 1974.
At the ceremony, retired NBA star Dikembe Mutombo recalled the impression Ali's visit made on him as an 8-year-old growing up in that country.
'He changed my life,' said Mutombo, who also is a trustee of the Constitution Center. 'I can never forget how inspired I was to see a black athlete receive such respect and admiration.
'He changed how the people of Zaire saw themselves, and in turn how the world saw them.'
Since hanging up his gloves in 1981, Ali has traveled extensively on international charitable missions and devoted his time to social causes.
Ali received the nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 2005. He also has established the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Research Center in Phoenix and a namesake educational and cultural institute in his hometown, Louisville, Ky.
The National Constitution Center, which
opened in 2003, is dedicated to increasing public understanding of the
Constitution and the ideas and values it represents.
One of a kind: Ali's family, including his wife Lonnie (second left) and sister-in-law Marilyn Williams (right) said the icon received the award despite 'standing up for what he believes in'
Another title for the collection: Ali, who has been battling Parkinson's disease for three decades, did not speak at the award ceremony