TIME Inc.’s Sports Illustrated Dedicates The Sportsman of The Year Legacy Award to Muhammad Ali

(September 25, 2015)...

Tribute to Ali Recognizes Lifelong Achievement in Sports and Enduring Legacy of Influencing Change and Inspiring The World

New York City, New York (September 25, 2015) — Today Time Inc.’s Sports Illustrated announced that it will dedicate the franchise’s Sportsman Legacy Award in the name of boxing legend, civil rights leader, humanitarian and icon, Muhammad Ali. It will now be known as the Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award. The Legacy Award was created in 2008 to honor former athletes and sports figures who embody the ideals of sportsmanship, leadership and philanthropy as vehicles for changing the world. There is no better example of this tradition of excellence and influence than Muhammad Ali. Mr. Ali will be recognized at a dedication ceremony taking place at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Ky., on October 1, which also marks the 40th anniversary of the legendary “Thrilla in Manilla” bout in which Ali defeated Joe Frazier. It is arguably the greatest heavyweight championship fight ever.

“When I was featured on my first Sports Illustrated cover in 1963, it was a huge turning point in my career,” said Muhammad Ali. “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.”

Time Inc. and Sports Illustrated are proud to pay tribute to Muhammad Ali as the embodiment of this award. The company is proud to team up with Under Armour which will showcase its performance collection inspired by Ali at the dedication event. The global performance brand recently announced a long-term partnership with The Champ, celebrating his unyielding will as an athlete and humanitarian. Ali is a true champion whose achievements in the ring only begin to tell his story. Ali was also a catalyst for social, political and humanitarian change that has shaped the global culture and influenced several generations. Furthermore, this honor symbolizes the long and storied relationship between SI and Ali: Muhammad Ali has been on the cover of Sports Illustrated 38 times, was named Sportsman of the Year in 1974 and received the singular distinction of being named SI’s Sportsman of the 20th Century. Some of the most iconic images of sport in the last century—including famed SI photographer Neil Leifer’s shot of Ali standing over former champ Sonny Liston and his dozens of other images of the man inside and outside the ring—feature Ali and first appeared to the public on the pages of SI. Over the years some of SI’s most esteemed journalists—Mark Kram, Gary Smith, Pat Putnam and William Nack—have documented the Ali story.

Only two individuals have been selected by the SI editorial team to receive the Legacy Award. Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder and driving force behind the Special Olympics, was the inaugural honoree, with her brother Bobby accepting the award in her honor during the annual Sportsman of the Year ceremony. In 2014, Earvin (Magic) Johnson was honored for his two decades as an entrepreneur, philanthropist and social and political activist. He also accepted the honor at the annual Sportsman event, where he was commended by President Bill Clinton and NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

“It is very exciting to have this prestigious award, which I was honored to have received last year, associated with Muhammad Ali, one of the greatest athletes and cultural figures of our time,” said Earvin (Magic) Johnson. “I grew up reading Sports Illustrated and have long followed the career of and looked up to ‘The Greatest,’ and am humbled to now forever have my name linked with both Ali and a true inspiration in Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who was the first to be very deservedly recognized with the tribute.”

“Every time we sat in a room to discuss the Legacy Award honoree we found ourselves measuring the candidates up against the collective work of Muhammad Ali who is the most transcendent figure in sports history,” said Sports Illustrated Group Editor Paul Fichtenbaum. “It’s only fitting that we pay our highest tribute to him by renaming the award in his honor.”

Ali is an Olympic gold medalist, Golden Gloves champion and three-time world heavyweight champion boxer with an all-time record of 56 wins (37 KOs) and five losses. Outside of the ring Ali became an international media phenomenon after his early successes in the sport and used that platform to voice his views on everything from the civil rights movement in the U.S. to his public conversion to Islam and his refusal to serve in the Vietnam War and fight for peace, to his public battle with Parkinson’s disease. Other awards and accolades for Ali over his lifetime include being named a United Nations Messenger of Peace, receiving a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the National Constitution Center Liberty Medal and Amnesty International’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He has made goodwill missions to Afghanistan and North Korea; delivered medical supplies to an embargoed Cuba; traveled to Iraq and secured the release of 15 United States hostages during the first Gulf War; and journeyed to South Africa to meet Nelson Mandela upon his release from prison. In addition to co-founding The Muhammad Ali Center with his wife, Lonnie, Mr. Ali hosts the annual Celebrity Fight Night in Phoenix and contributes substantially to the awareness of and research efforts for Parkinson’s disease. The Muhammad Ali Center, in the Alis’ home of Louisville, Ky., is a cultural center that promotes the six core principles of Muhammad Ali (“Confidence, Conviction, Dedication, Giving, Respect, and Spirituality”) to achieve personal and global greatness, and provides programming and events around these principles.

Muhammad Ali has proven that one person can have a powerful impact on the world and that athletes can discuss subjects outside the arena in order to inspire peace and well-being. Under this new name, the presentation of Time Inc.’s Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year Muhammad Ali Legacy Award will forever honor this legend’s achievements.


Time Inc. (NYSE:TIME) is one of the world’s leading media companies, with a monthly global print audience of over 120 million and worldwide digital properties that attract more than 140 million visitors each month, including over 60 websites. Our influential brands include People, Sports Illustrated, InStyle, Time, Real Simple, Southern Living, Entertainment Weekly, Travel + Leisure, Cooking Light, Fortune and Food & Wine, as well as more than 50 diverse titles in the United Kingdom such as Decanter, Horse & Hound and Wallpaper*.  Time Inc. is home to celebrated franchises and events including the Fortune 500, Time 100, People’s Sexiest Man Alive, Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year, the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, the Essence Festival and the biennial Fortune Global Forum. Hundreds of thousands of people attend our events every year. We have been extending the power of our brands through various investments and acquisitions, including the formation of Sports Illustrated Play, a new company devoted to youth and amateur sports, and the acquisition of inVNT, a company that specializes in live media. We also provide content marketing, targeted local print and digital advertising programs, branded book publishing and marketing and support services, including subscription sales services for magazines and other products, retail distribution and marketing services and customer service and fulfillment services, for ourselves and third-party clients, including other magazine publishers.


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About the Muhammad Ali Center

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


Jeanie Kahnke
Senior Director of Public Relations and External Affairs