LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (January 25, 2017) —The previously announced “I Am Ali” festival, celebrating the legacy of native son and global humanitarian Muhammad Ali in his hometown of Louisville, has expanded from an original ten days to six weeks, due to community interest in the event. The Muhammad Ali Center and its key partners-- The Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau, City of Louisville, Kentucky Exposition Center, Ohiobasketball.com, the Louisville Bats, and other community ambassadors—are pleased to announce that the communitywide festival will be bookended by two major events: a Muhammad Ali Appreciation Night at Slugger Field and two premier girls’ basketball tournament events at the Kentucky Exposition Center.
The “I Am Ali” festival will open on the one-year anniversary of Ali’s passing, June 3rd and will highlight Ali’s “Six Core Principles”—Confidence, Conviction, Dedication, Respect, Giving, and Spirituality-- with six weeks of programming and community events, tied to each one of these principles. The “I Am Ali” Festival will culminate on July 15th.
Greg Galiette, Senior Vice President at the Louisville Bats, said he and the team are thrilled to start off the festival at Louisville Slugger Field. “The Louisville Bats Organization is honored to be part of this wonderful series of community events which, on June 3rd will kick off the first of six weeks focusing on spreading Muhammad Ali’s six core principles in our community. We the Louisville Bats franchise were very appreciative of the support that Muhammad had provided to his home town baseball team over the years… often visiting us both at old Cardinal Stadium when we were the Louisville Redbirds and then at Louisville Slugger Field our current home as the Louisville Bats. And on Saturday Night June 3rd I am sure that our players will also be honored to wear the one of kind Louisville Bats / Muhammad Ali-themed Jerseys that we have designed when we pay tribute to the Champ on Muhammad Ali Night”.
The inspiration for the festival was the quickly-arranged “I Am Ali” celebration that was held at the Kentucky Center in June of 2016 during the week of Ali’s death and memorial, attracting 15,000 young people.
“The 2017 festival will build upon that success – and become an annual event for Louisville as we show the world and young people how to be like Ali,” Mayor Greg Fischer said.
The last ten days of “I Am Ali” will incorporate two girls’ basketball tournament events—the Run 4 Roses Basketball Classic and Battle in the Boro- to take place at the Kentucky Exposition Center-bringing in to the city approximately 15,000-plus female athletes, along with their families. The Festival, which will elevate gender equality in the sports arena and provide ‘value added’ programming and activities around the city, will deliver a unique experience that connects with Muhammad Ali’s great legacy as a global citizen, athlete, and humanitarian. The “I am Ali Festival” was created in conjunction with Tucker Neale, Executive Director of ohiobasketball.com and owner of TSN Camps & Clinics.
Jason Rittenberry, President and CEO of the Kentucky State Fair Board, spoke about the significance of the basketball tournaments and associated entertainment aspects of the Festival. “It’s fitting that two ceremonies of the ‘I Am Ali’ Festival will take place in Freedom Hall, the site of Muhammad Ali’s first professional fight. During the celebration, the Kentucky Exposition Center is proud to host two premier girls’ basketball tournaments, providing a unique opportunity to share Ali’s legacy as an athlete and humanitarian with more than 17,000 young people and their supporters.”
Many of the ‘Six Core Principle’ events will take place at the Muhammad Ali Center. This $80 million museum and international cultural center located in Ali’s hometown has honored his life and legacy for over a decade. As more local attractions and organizations offer programming and special Ali-related offerings during the six weeks, they will be added to curated web content at www.gotolouisville.com/ali.
Ali, originally known as Cassius Clay, was born in Louisville on January 17, 1942. It was here where he honed his ability as a boxer, and it was here where he returned to after winning Gold in the 1960 Rome Olympics. Ali returned to his hometown often after capturing the title of Heavyweight Champion of the World and was actively involved with the vision and direction of the Muhammad Ali Center.
“The ‘I Am Ali’ Festival will expand upon the renewed interest that people have in learning more about Ali’s legacy and becoming part of something bigger than oneself,” said Donald Lassere, President and CEO of the Muhammad Ali Center.”
Having lived most of his young life in Louisville, the city is full of “landmarks” that are the backdrops of the events and experiences that molded Ali into the man who was both loved and respected throughout the world as a legendary sports figure and humanitarian, as well as a man of true principles. A self-guided tour brochure helps fans trace some of Ali’s “Footsteps of Greatness.” A local tour company also offers visitors an opportunity to experience many of the stops that have historic relevance to Ali’s life.
Said Karen Williams, President and CEO of the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau, “People are still coming to Louisville from around the globe to pay their respects and celebrate the legacy of ‘The Greatest.’ This event will offer a perfect time to visit Louisville for an expanded Ali experience from many participating attractions.”