LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (November 10, 2016) — Every Monday in November, The Filson Historical Society in association with the Muhammad Ali Center, will host a lecture on the life of Muhammad Ali as part of our biannual Henry D. Ormsby III Seminar Series. Each lecture will examine a different period of Ali’s life and feature speakers who range from local community leaders to close friends of Ali himself.
All lectures will be held at The Filson Historical Society, 1310 South Third Street at 6:00 pm. This event is free to the general public. To register, please visit www.filsonhistorical.org/events or call (502) 635-5083.
In 1999 ESPN named Muhammad Ali as the third greatest athlete of the 20th century. That same year, Sports Illustrated awarded him Sportsman of the Century. Ali was undoubtedly the greatest boxer of all time. Yet more important than the intense, near superhuman, dedication he channeled into his sport, was his status as symbol of hope, unity, and peace worldwide. In honor of this incredible Louisvillian, The Filson Historical Society in conjunction with the Muhammad Ali Center will be hosting a four-part lecture series dedicated to Ali’s life and philosophy.
“Since losing The Champ in June, there has been a renewed interest in Muhammad’s life from both the community and the world,” said Donald Lassere, president and CEO of the Muhammad Ali Center. “So having the opportunity to partner with The Filson on the Ali series could not be more timely and significant. We look forward to sharing why Muhammad earned the title of The Greatest of All Time—not just for his undeniable success in the ring, but for the impact his charitable work has had on humanity.”
November 7 | 1942-1964: A Young Black Man in Segregated Louisville – Cassius Marcellus Clay was born in Louisville on January 17th, 1942. As a child, he inherited his father’s confidence and was nourished by his mother’s giving spirit. At age twelve, Cassius’s evolving character hit a fork in the road when his Schwinn bicycle was stolen, and young Cassius was presented a decision that would change his life and perhaps even the course of history. We will examine Ali’s childhood in Louisville, his frustrations with a racially segregated society, his earliest amateur boxing matches, and his trip to the 1960 Olympics, which introduced him to the world arena. This first lecture will feature speakers Bob Coleman and Sam Watkins.
November 14 | 1964-1971: A Boxer Exiled for His Convictions – Muhammad Ali became the world boxing champion in 1964 at age twenty-two. While Ali’s professional career took off, the fight for civil rights in the U.S. was intensifying—dividing our country and turning it upside down. These events awakened in Clay an array of emotions that fostered a dream for equality and justice. In 1964, Cassius Clay transformed into Muhammad Ali. He became an advocate for freedom and equality, a symbol of peace, and a man of conviction. During this time, Muhammad Ali took many hard punches from the media and the public, but Ali did not waver from his beliefs and remained dedicated to his goals. In 1964, Ali won his first professional championship, but by 1967 he was banned from boxing for what some referred to as “draft dodging.” This lecture will look at Ali’s pro boxing, his conversion to Islam, and his commitment to pacifism.
November 21 | 1971-1981: The Greatest Boxer in the World – After nearly three-and-a-half years of fighting court battles, the supreme court ruled in Ali’s favor, and he began boxing again to regain the championship he had never lost in the ring. After his exoneration, Ali returned to professional boxing and won two more world heavyweight championships, solidifying his place as one of the greatest American athletes of all time and the greatest boxer in history. Muhammad Ali was the first heavyweight boxer at the time to become a three-time world champion.
November 28 | 1981-2016: International Icon for Peace – While Muhammad Ali had been on a lifelong humanitarian journey, when he retired from the ring in 1981, his commitment toward helping those in need deepened, regardless of the debilitating effects of Parkinson’s disease. Ali once said that boxing was “just a platform” he used “to represent truth and help certain causes.” Following his retirement, Ali focused on his life’s most enduring and inspiring work: advocating for social change on a global scale and tackling the cultural issues that had motivated him since his childhood days in Louisville.
About The Filson Historical Society
Since its founding in 1884, The Filson Historical Society has preserved the region’s collective memory, not only of Kentucky but also of the Ohio Valley and the Upper South. The Filson continues to collect and tell the significant stories of the region. An independent historical society, The Filson serves the public through its extensive research collections and numerous educational opportunities. The Filson is headquartered in the Ferguson Mansion in Old Louisville and houses a library, a museum and a special collections department.
The Muhammad Ali Center, a 501(c)3 corporation, was co-founded by Muhammad Ali and his wife Lonnie in their hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. The international cultural center promotes the six core principles of Muhammad Ali (Confidence, Conviction, Dedication, Giving, Respect, and Spirituality) in ways that inspire personal and global greatness and provides programming and events around the focus areas of education, gender equity, and global citizenship. Its newest initiative, Generation Ali, fosters a new generation of leaders to contribute positively to their communities and to change the world for the better. The Center’s headquarters also contains an award-winning museum experience. For more information, please visit www.alicenter.org
Senior Director of Public Relations and External Affairs