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Muhammad Ali Center to Host Fourth Annual Athletes and Social Change Forum

2016 Forum to serve as a think tank on a Declaration for Human Rights in Sports

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (November 23, 2015) — The fourth annual Muhammad Ali Center Athletes and Social Change Forum, in partnership with University of Louisville, Brown University, and Athlete Ally, will take place on April 8-9, 2016 as an online virtual conference. This year’s forum will focus on “Creating a Declaration for Human Rights in Sports.”

The goal of this year’s forum is to bring together thought leaders from diverse areas of sports advocacy for a think tank on the potential scope, impact, and framing of a Declaration for Human Rights in Sports, outline the rights of every athlete, as well as define the responsibilities of global sports communities to provide their athletes equality of access, opportunity, and experience.

As Muhammad Ali was one of the first athletes to use his status as a vehicle to transform sports into larger societal issues, the forum welcomes practitioners, scholars, policymakers, athletes, and advocates who are working to advance the realm of athletes and social change through Ali’s six core principles: Confidence, Conviction, Dedication, Giving, Respect, and Spirituality.

In past years, the forum has featured Tori McClure, the first female to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean, and Kye Allums, the first openly transgender NCAA Division I athlete, as keynote speakers. Former attendees include multiple Olympic and Paralympic athletes.

“The time is now for fully addressing and articulating the rights of athletes and rights of all stakeholders at all levels of sports. This forum aims to contribute significantly to bringing development, peace, and human rights to the forefront in sports. The Muhammad Ali Center is inspiring and empowering; it’s the perfect partner for this important conversation,” said Eli Wolff, Director, Sports and Development Project, Brown University.

Donald Lassere, President and CEO of the Muhammad Ali Center, said “Muhammad Ali as an athlete and humanitarian has led the way for others to use their celebrity status to do good in the world. As an organization, we strive to promote respect, hope, and understanding for all, and to use Muhammad as inspiration and motivation for young people to achieve greatness on local, national, and international levels. We could not be more proud to once again be hosting such a meaningful event.”

Mary A. Hums, Professor, Sports Administration, University of Louisville, said “This year’s Muhammad Ali Center Athletes and Social Change Forum promises to put forth new ways of framing sport from the perspective of human rights. The voices of athletes, practitioners, and academics will be present as we move forward while focusing a light on the power of sport to promote human rights as well as on sport as a human right. The forum welcomes all people who believe in the power of sport to inform, empower, and transform.”

A new partner for this year’s forum is Athlete Ally. According to Founder and Executive Director, Hudson Taylor, “Sport is universal, and the values of good sporting behavior, and treating all people with dignity and respect, should be universal too. Athlete Ally is proud to be partnering with the Ali Center to help set the standard for human rights accountability through sport. If human rights advocates in sport communicate and collaborate, there is nothing we cannot accomplish.”

Call for Proposals and Registration
Abstracts for contribution can be practitioner or research, and should be no longer than 250 words. They should be sent to the attention of Eli Wolff via We welcome proposals addressing human rights in sports and a Charter for Human Rights in Sport at the local, national, or international levels. The deadline for abstract proposals to present or contribute to the forum is January 15, 2016. To attend this FREE forum, please register here.

Eli Wolff
Brown University

About Athlete Ally
Athlete Ally’s mission is to educate and activate athletic communities to eliminate homophobia and transphobia in sports and to exercise their leadership to champion LGBT equality. Founded in 2011, Athlete Ally has worked with the NBA, WNBA, and MLB on matters of respect and inclusion; led the Principle 6 campaign that convinced the International Olympic Committee to include sexual orientation in the non-discrimination clause of the Olympic Charter; and counts more than 100 college, professional, and Olympic athletes among its dedicated and active Ambassadors.

Sarah Kennedy
Athlete Ally
(212) 213-1462


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