PHILADELPHIA, Sept 14 — Heavyweight boxing legend Muhammad Ali was honoured yesterday for his humanitarian efforts and civil rights work at an awards ceremony in Philadelphia.
The US$100,000 (RM304,000) award called the Liberty Medal, sponsored by the non-profit National Constitution Centre, was presented to Ali by his daughter, Laila, a former boxer herself.
Ali, 70, who has been silenced by a long battle with Parkinson’s disease, was honoured as an icon of constitutional ideals and the American dream, the centre said.
He “has been an outspoken fighter for religious and civil rights; a conscientious objector who took his battle to the Supreme Court and won; an ambassador for peace and justice worldwide, and a tireless humanitarian and philanthropist”, the centre said in a statement.
“Muhammad Ali continues to this day to inspire young people throughout the world,” said Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.
Since he retired from boxing in 1981, Ali has worked on philanthropic and social causes around the world.
He has made goodwill missions to Afghanistan and North Korea, delivered medical aid to Cuba, travelled to Iraq to secure release of 15 US hostages during the first Gulf War, and most recently, worked for the eventual release of the three American hikers held captive in Iran, the centre said in its statement.
“We are here today to honour a true champion of freedom,” David Eisner, the centre’s president and chief executive, told the audience.
Ali did not speak at the ceremony, held in the hometown of his bitter former rival Joe Frazier, who died of liver cancer last November.
But his wife, Lonnie, said he was “deeply honoured... to be a beacon of liberty”. — Reuters