Louisville, Ky., – The University of Louisville will pay tribute to Muhammad Ali in a free, public ceremony Sept. 17 as the legendary boxer receives the inaugural Grawemeyer Spirit Award.
The prize marks the 30th anniversary of the Grawemeyer Awards and will be presented to Ali at 11 a.m. at The Louisville Palace. Ali was selected for the award for his role in inspiring others and affecting positive change in the world.
“The Grawemeyer Spirit Award recognizes an individual whose beliefs, actions and worldwide impact are in accord with Charles Grawemeyer’s reason for creating the awards program that bears his name,” said UofL President James Ramsey. “This award recognizes those who, in Charlie Grawemeyer’s own words, ‘make the world a better place.’ I think he would be very pleased that we are honoring Mr. Ali’s lifetime achievements.”
The Grawemeyer Spirit Award ceremony kicks off a months-long series of events, including lectures by Grawemeyer Award recipients. Ali and his wife, Lonnie, are scheduled to attend the ceremony.
Noted journalist and UofL alumnus Howard Fineman, global editorial director of the AOL Huffington Post Media Group, will serve as master of ceremonies and deliver the keynote address. The program also will highlight the Grawemeyer Awards’ history of recognizing powerful ideas and will include a photo retrospective by longtime Ali photographer Neil Leifer. The awards ceremony is presented with the support of Louisville Public Media and the Muhammad Ali Center.
The Grawemeyer Spirit Award presented to Ali will be created by glass artist and UofL associate professor Ché Rhodes.
The Grawemeyer Awards recognize the power of creative ideas and are given each year in five categories: music composition, education, religion, psychology and improving world order.
UofL graduate, industrialist, entrepreneur and philanthropist H. Charles Grawemeyer began the awards in 1984 with an initial endowment of $9 million. The first award was presented in 1985. To date, more than $14 million has been bestowed on 133 winners.
Although tickets to the Sept. 17 event are free, they must be reserved by Sept. 1 by visiting grawemeyer.org.