To Debut in Muhammad Ali’s Hometown in 2017
LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (October 13, 2016) — Louisville will host a 10-day festival in 2017 celebrating the legacy of native son and global humanitarian Muhammad Ali.
The “I Am Ali” festival July 5-15th will include local arts and cultural groups, performances and events – along with two premier girls’ basketball tournament events that will bring 10,000 girls to Louisville.
The inaugural “I Am Ali” festival was held at the Kentucky Center this past summer 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.
In correlation with two premier girls’ basketball tournament events—the Run 4 Roses Basketball Classic and Battle in the Boro– taking place at the Kentucky Expo Center, the “I Am Ali” Festival will offer a conglomerate of programming, films, events, entertainment, and other activities around the city that connect with and reinforce Muhammad Ali’s great legacy as a global citizen, athlete, and humanitarian. This one-of-a-kind Festival was created in conjunction with Tucker Neale, Executive Director of ohiobasketball.com and owner of TSN Camps & Clinics.
“The women’s basketball world will descend upon Louisville during the ‘I Am Ali’ Festival,” said Mr. Neale. “10,000 participants will be able to walk in the footsteps of the Greatest of All Time and to take part in unique activities centered around Ali’s 6 principles of success. Allowing the next generation of female leaders to feel and touch ‘The Aura of Ali’ will make each participant a more well-rounded citizen and an agent of change. We are honored to be part of such collaboration and to show the power of change dynamics through these young ladies and their families.”
The tournaments are for girls ages 13 to 17, 8th through 11th grades, who will play an integral part in the ‘I Am Ali’ Festival.’ These athletes, representing 50 states and three countries, who—along with their families—will bring upwards of 20,000 attendees. Through the Festival activities, the girls will be provided an unparalleled experience and the tools to make a difference within their own communities.
“These basketball tournaments are well suited to unite with the “I Am Ali Festival” to elevate gender equality in the sports arena. We welcome these young women, their families and coaches to the city and to the Kentucky Exposition Center to be a part of the Muhammad Ali experience,” said Anthony Leachman, interim CEO of the Kentucky State Fair Board.
Taking place at the Muhammad Ali Center, the Kentucky Exposition Center, and other sites soon to be announced, The “I Am Ali” Festival will also incorporate Mayor Fischer’s Compassionate Louisville initiative.
“The 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. “Specifically, being able to kick off this Festival with female athletes reinforces one of the Ali Center’s educational focus areas: gender equality. Lonnie Ali has said that “There is Ali in All of Us,” and this festival is a way to demonstrate that.”
The majority of the 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. Both Ali and his wife Lonnie were instrumental in the design and building of the Center, and have stayed intimately involved since its opening in 2005. Since Ali’s passing, the urgency and demand for innovative ways for young people to embrace Muhammad’s legacy and to learn more about his six core principles has never been greater.
During the week of Ali’s death, the City of Louisville came together like never before. Residents lined the city streets for miles on the day of Ali’s funeral to catch a glimpse of the procession and to pay their last respects in a personal way—and throngs of international visitors were introduced to the city’s signature hospitality. Visitation spiked dramatically at the Muhammad Ali Center, the Muhammad Ali Childhood Home Museum, and Cave Hill Cemetery, where Ali was laid to rest.
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.”
“Muhammad Ali was a global icon but he had only one hometown,” said Mayor Greg Fischer, “and that hometown of Louisville is honored to carry on his legacy for years to come with the ‘I Am Ali’ celebration each July.”
Ali, originally known as Cassius Clay, was born in Louisville on January 17, 1942. It was here he honed his ability as a boxer, and it was here he returned to after winning Gold in the 1960 Rome Olympics. He returned 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.
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.
Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau
Kentucky State Fair Board/Kentucky Exposition Center
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 www.alicenter.org