Congratulations to Muhammad Ali,
recipient of the Grawemeyer Spirit Award

The Grawemeyer Awards program at the University of Louisville pays tribute to the power of ideas, emphasizing the impact a single idea can have on the world. The first Grawemeyer Award was presented in 1985 and to date, more than $14 million has been bestowed on winners from across the globe.

To commemorate the program’s 30th anniversary, the Grawemeyer Spirit Award was established to recognize an individual whose beliefs, actions and worldwide impact are in accord with Charles Grawemeyer’s impetus for creating the awards program that bears his name. Muhammad Ali was honored with the inaugural Grawemeyer Spirit Award for his lifetime of inspiring others and for making the world a better place.

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The awards ceremony and community celebration to highlight 30 years of the Grawemeyer Awards and honor Muhammad Ali as the first recipient of the Grawemeyer Spirit Award took place on September 17, 2015 at The Louisville Palace. Mr. Ali and his wife, Lonnie, were in attendance and Howard Fineman, global editorial director of The Huffington Post served as master of ceremonies.

Dr. James R. Ramsey, president of the University of Louisville shared information about Charles Grawemeyer’s legacy, followed by a presentation about the power of ideas by Rev. Dr. Michael Jinkins, president of the Louisville Seminary. Fineman delivered the keynote speech, which included a recorded retrospective by longtime Ali photographer Neil Leifer. Dr. Ramsey, joined on stage by Jinkins and Grawemeyer Awards Executive Director Charlie Leonard, presented the award to Mr. Ali saying, “Although Mr. Ali and Charles Grawemeyer traveled very different paths in life, their destinations are similar—a world where every individual’s worth is cause for celebration; a world in which inspiration plus action can lead to transformation; a world where each of us can make positive change by discovering our own greatness.”

“Muhammad is honored to be recognized by the University of Louisville and the Grawemeyer Awards Committee with the very first Charles Grawemeyer Spirit Award,” said Lonnie Ali. “In accepting this award, we are reminded that Muhammad’s life continues to inspire generations of people to discover and cultivate their own path to greatness and to use their talents and successes to empower others in communities all over the world. This award allows Muhammad’s legacy, like Charles Grawemeyer’s legacy, to live on through the people they inspire.”

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