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Sixth Annual Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards to Showcase Evening of Greatness: Awardees, Presenters, and Entertainment Reinforce Theme of Impact

Entertainment Lineup to include:  CJ Vanston, Michael Fitzpatrick, Carly Johnson, IMAJ and Tom Strahle

Awardees, Host, and Presenters Previously Released for Thursday, September 20th Event in Louisville, KY; Tickets Sales End Today

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (September 10, 2018) — The Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards honor and celebrate individuals who, like Muhammad Ali, empower us to generate greatness in our lives and in the lives of others. This year’s theme of Impact, will be woven into the evening’s program by spotlighting our awardees’ humanitarian achievements, the prominence of our presenters, and the talented musicians who will illuminate the relevance of Ali’s legacy through their inspiring performances and the songs they sing.  The Sixth Annual Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards take place on Thursday evening, September 20th at the Omni Louisville Hotel. (Previously announced awardees and presenters are at the end of this release, as is a link for online credential requests).

The impact of this year’s Muhammad Ali Humanitarian awardees is positively changing people’s lives around the world through a spectrum of different humanitarian causes. Collectively, their work has tackled the issues of immigration, the environment, food access and hunger, the challenges of creating better housing, better neighborhoods, and much needed anti-bullying programs. Their efforts have provided programs for women’s empowerment, youth empowerment, community healing, and even parenthood. Finally it has spawned a more sustainable planet through yeast fermentation and technology, and united thousands of mothers in dozens of countries committed to supplying clean water for their families and their communities.

While it is the awardees that are recognized for their service and philanthropy, it is the musicians who artistically highlight the evening’s humanitarian theme and provide the connective flow. Donald Lassere, President and CEO of the Muhammad Ali Center, said, “All of this year’s entertainers have a connection to Muhammad and the Ali Center, and their passion for his legacy comes to life through their music.”

This year’s entertainment includes: Hollywood-based composer/producer/songwriter CJ Vanston; world-renowned cellist Michael Fitzpatrick; popular Louisville-based singer/songwriter Carly Johnson; multi-talented country singer/songwriter IMAJ; and LA-based guitarist/songwriter, Tom Strahle.

Michael Fitzpatrick and CJ Vanston have served as Co-Music Directors of the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards since its inception.

In speaking of Muhammad Ali, Mr. Fitzpatrick said, “He moved and spoke like a musician and his influence on my life as a child til now directly impacted the way I play every note.  This year’s Awards—graced by the presence of Martin Luther King III, whose father Dr. King, was my other childhood hero--promises to raise the roof once again.”

CJ Vanston, said, “Performing at these awards gives me a chance to give something back in the form of music. This year we will be débuting a new piece dedicated to The Champ entitled Run Through It, and also will be performing with some incredible performers. The song underscores Muhammad Ali’s indomitable will to overcome any and all obstacles.”

“I am so incredibly proud to be from Ali’s hometown of Louisville,” said Carly Johnson. “To be part of recognizing people that continue Ali’s legacy by fighting in the ring for social justice, equality, spreading kindness and lifting people up, is a true honor. It is so important to continue to plant the seeds of Ali’s principles in the minds of our young generations, especially confidence and belief in oneself.”

IMAJ, whose goal is to bring world peace through her music, stated, “Muhammad Ali’s legacy stands as an invaluable example that we as a human race can aspire to carry that with us and project out to our world.  These traits are vital to my generation of millennials, and the next, if we are to make a positive difference in our world. I’m honored to take part in celebrating those who continue to shine that light. It means the world to me to take part in encouraging Ali’s legacy.”

Previously announced Awardees are:

“Seasoned” Award Category

Dr. Pearse Lyons, Founder Alltech: Lifetime Achievement (Posthumous); Amy Carlson, Actress/Activist:  Gender Equality Award; Dave Eggers, Author/Organizer: Education Award; Sister Larraine Anne Lauter, OSU, Co-Founder of Water With Blessings: Kentucky Humanitarian Award

“Six Core Principle” 30 and Under Award Category

Lisa Curtis, age 30, California, USA, Founder and CEO, Kuli Kuli: Dedication Award; Alex Holmes, age 30, United Kingdom, Deputy CEO of the Diana Award and Founder of Anti-Bullying Ambassadors: Respect Award; Alexandria Lafci, age 28, United States Co-Founder of New Story: Giving Award; Reyna Montoya, age 27, Arizona, USA, Founder and Executive Director of Aliento: Spirituality Award;

Sheldon Smith, age 29, Chicago, IL, USA, Founder and Executive Director of the Dovetail Project: Confidence Award; Kushagra Srivastava, age 23, New Delhi, India, Chief Executive Officer of the Chakr Innovation: Conviction Award

Program Participants

Akbar Gbajabiamila, Host of NBC’s America Ninja Warrior and NFL Network’s Fantasy Live: Emcee

Donald Lassere, President and CEO of the Muhammad Ali Center: Welcoming Remarks

Amira Ali and Nico Ali-Walsh, Grandchildren of Muhammad Ali:  Award Docents

Award Presenters:

Lonnie Ali, Co-Founder, Muhammad Ali Center

Heather French Henry, Former Miss America, Deputy Commissioner of KY Department of Veteran Affairs

Martin King, III, President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Co-Founder of BounceTV

Captain Niloofar Rahmani, First female fixed-wing Air Force aviator in Afghanistan’s history: Award Presenter

Juan Williams, Journalist, and Political Analyst for Fox News: Award Presenter


For more information about each awardee and program participant, visit:

Media Credentials

The deadline for online media credential requests, due by Friday, September 14th, can be found here:

The 2018 Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards are supported by: Brown-Forman Corporation, Horseshoe Southern Indiana, Tandem PR, Ashbourne Farms, River Bend Farm, and ESPN, Inc.

Ticket and Table Sponsors
Tickets to the awards can be purchased by September 10th
through the Ali Center’s website or by contacting Erin Herbert at or 502.992.5341. For more information, visit

About the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards
The Sixth Annual Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards will take place on September 20th, 2018 at the Omni Louisville Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky USA. This charitable event of celebration and recognition will honor individuals around the world who have made significant contributions toward the attainment of peace, social justice, or other positive actions pertaining to human or social capital. In addition to awards presented to seasoned humanitarians, six young people, 30 years or younger, are honored with an award for each of Muhammad’s Six Core Principles: Confidence, Conviction, Dedication, Giving, Respect, and Spirituality. This event is the premiere annual fundraiser for the Muhammad Ali Center.