Muhammad Ali receives humanitarian award

Legendary boxer Muhammad Ali honored with inaugural Grawemeyer Spirit Award at University of Louisville on Thursday.

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Boxing great Muhammad Ali is cheered by the audience as his wife Lonnie Ali, left, and his sister-in-law Marilyn Williams look on, as he is awarded the Grawemeyer Spirit Award at The Louisville Palace Theater in Louisville on Thursday

American boxing great Muhammad Ali received a humanitarian award Thursday in a ceremony attended by 1,000 in his Kentucky hometown of Louisville, according to local media.

The sports legend was awarded the inaugural Grawemeyer Spirit Award for "inspiring others to make the world a better place", the University of Louisville said on the award's web page.

The 73-year-old who is battling Parkinson's disease, reportedly appeared on stage with his wife, Lonnie Ali, in front of a packed auditorium during the event at the Louisville Palace, near the site where he was introduced to boxing at age 12.

"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", Lonnie Ali said.

Muhammad Ali was the first boxer to win the world heavyweight championship three separate times, successfully defending the title 19 times.

Born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., he changed his name to Muhammad Ali in 1964 after converting to Islam.

Since retiring from the ring in 1981, Ali has been involved in humanitarian causes through his Muhammad Ali Center.