According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, boxing legend, Vietnam War protester and civil rights activist Muhammad Ali will soon have his hometown airport renamed after him.
“Muhammad Ali belonged to the world, but he only had one hometown, and fortunately, that is our great city of Louisville,” Mayor Greg Fischer said. “Muhammad became one of the most well-known people to ever walk the Earth and has left a legacy of humanitarianism and athleticism that has inspired billions of people.”
Lonnie Ali, Ali’s widow, said in a statement she is happy that Louisville is changing its airport’s name “to reflect Muhammad’s impact on the city and his love for his hometown.”
“Muhammad was a global citizen,” she stated, “but he never forgot the city that gave him his start. It is a fitting testament to his legacy.”
Colin Kaepernick made his truth known when he first decided not to stand for the national anthem. He had a lot of football left to play and a lot more money to make when he made his decision. It was late August, 2016. People who were anonymous in life had become famous in death. Philando Castile. Eric Garner. Alton Sterling. Freddie Gray. They were tragic symbols of a society that had taken a terribly wrong turn. As the anthem played ahead of the 49ers’ preseason game against the Texans, Kaepernick, San Francisco’s 28-year-old quarterback at the time, quietly took a seat on the bench.
It took two weeks for anyone from the media to ask him about it. Kaepernick explained that he was making a statement about inequality and social justice, about the ways this country “oppresses black people and people of color.”
“To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way,” he added. “There are bodies in the street,” he said then, “and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
In the last 16 months, Kaepernick’s truth has been twisted, distorted and used for political gain. It has cost him at least a year of his NFL career and the income that should have come with it. But still, it is his truth. He has not wavered from it. He does not regret speaking it. He has caused millions of people to examine it. And, quietly, he has donated nearly a million dollars to support it.
For all those reasons—for his steadfastness in the fight for social justice, for his adherence to his beliefs no matter the cost—Colin Kaepernick is the recipient of the 2017 Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award. Each year SI and the Ali family honor a figure who embodies the ideals of sportsmanship, leadership and philanthropy and has used sports as a platform for changing the world. “I am proud to be able to present this to Colin for his passionate defense of social justice and civil rights for all people,” says Lonnie Ali, Muhammad’s widow. “Like Muhammad, Colin is a man who stands on his convictions with confidence and courage, undaunted by the personal sacrifices he has had to make to have his message heard. And he has used his celebrity and philanthropy to the benefit of some of our most vulnerable community members.”
Previous Legacy winners—including Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jim Brown, Jack Nicklaus and Magic Johnson—were deserving. But no winner has been more fitting than Kaepernick. Ali lost more than three years of his career for his refusal to serve in the military in opposition to the Vietnam War. Kaepernick has lost one year, so far, for his pursuit of social justice.
When Kaepernick first protested during the national anthem, he could not have envisioned the size and duration of the ensuing firestorm. But he knew there would be fallout. So much has changed in America since the summer of 2016, and so many words have been used to describe Kaepernick. But his words from his first explanation remain his truth:
“This is not something that I am going to run by anybody. I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed. … If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.”
Kaepernick kept his job for a season before being blackballed by the NFL—and yes, he has been blackballed. This should be obvious by now. Scott Tolzien, Cody Kessler, Tom Savage and Matt Cassel have thrown passes in the league this year, yet nobody has tried to sign Kaepernick, who is fifth in NFL history in touchdown-to-interception ratio. Kaepernick has been called a distraction, which is laughable— his coach last year, Chip Kelly, says there was “zero distraction,” and his 49ers teammates said the same. Most NFL players would rather be “distracted” by Kaepernick than try to tackle the guy who just intercepted Brock Osweiler.
Kaepernick has paid a price beyond missing games and losing paychecks. He has been battered by critics who don’t want to understand him. Some say Kaepernick hates America; he says he is trying to make it better. Others say he hates the military, but on Sept. 1, 2016, as the then-San Diego Chargers played a tribute to the military on the stadium videoboard, Kaepernick applauded.
Nobody claims Kaepernick is perfect. Reasonable, woke people can be upset that he did not vote in the 2016 election. But the Ali Legacy Award does not honor perfection, and the criticisms of Kaepernick are misguided in one fundamental way: They make this story a referendum on Kaepernick. It was never supposed to be about him. It is about Tamir Rice and the world’s highest incarceration rate and a country that devalues education and slides too easily into violence.
When Ali was drafted into the military in 1967 and refused to report, much of the country disapproved. Ali explained his refusal by saying: “Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam after so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?”
Time ultimately shined a softer light on Ali. For the last 40 years of his life, Ali was arguably the most popular athlete in American history. But in the late 1960s, he was deeply unpopular and his future was uncertain.
Ali was 25 when he was banned from boxing and 28 when he returned to the sport. Boxing historians sometimes wonder what he would have done in those prime years. But Ali did not look at it that way. Instead of focusing on the piece of his career that he lost, he talked about what he had gained: a sense of self, and of purpose, greater than he could ever find in the ring. He risked prison time. He did not know if he would ever be allowed to fight again. But he knew he was clinging to his truth. As Ali later toldSI’s George Plimpton: “Every man wonders what he is going to do when he is put on the chopping block, when he’s going to be tested.”
Someday, America may well be a better place because of Colin Kaepernick. This is hard to see now— history is not meant to be analyzed in real time. But we are having conversations we need to have, and this should eventually lead to changes we need to make. Police officers, politicians and citizens can work together to create a safer, fairer, more civil society. Kaepernick did not want to sacrifice his football career for this. But he did it anyway. It is a rare person who gives up what he loves in exchange for what he believes.
Empty sidelines in Nashville and Chicago. Jacksonville owner Shad Khan standing arm in arm with his players. The Miami Dolphins wearing “I’m With Kap” T-shirts during warm-ups. Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis eloquently explaining his change of heart about players protesting during the national anthem. The NFL had one of its finest moments before the games even began Sunday, coming together from every corner – players, coaches, owners and league office – in forceful rebuke of the latest torrent of hate from President Donald Trump.
Whether black, white or brown, on bended knee or with locked arms, the NFL’s rare show of unity was both a dignified condemnation of the wrongs we still must right and a reminder that, for all of our differences, America remains our common ground. “Over the last year, though, the streets have gotten hot and there has been a lot of static in the air and recently, fuel has been added to the fire,” Davis said in a statement. “… Not only do we have to tell people there is something wrong, we have to come up with answers.“That’s the challenge in front of us as Americans and human beings.”
Be it Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali,Billie Jean King or Magic Johnson, sports has long been the prism through which we see society. And fondly as we regard those trailblazers now, that wasn’t always the case. Changing hearts and minds, getting people to shed their stereotypes and ignorance, took sacrifice, anger and, yes, even protest.
In that way, the NFL’s league-wide show of unity was merely the latest in a long history of sports and activism being intertwined. It wasn’t even particularly radical when measured against the outspokenness and activism by current NBA players and coaches.
But what made Sunday so stunning was how out of character it was, a seismic shift for a league that has been loath to allow any kind of individuality or personal expression. The NFL barely tolerates touchdown celebrations, let alone a call to acknowledge the pervasive racism that marginalizes a good portion of our country.
Maybe that’s what Trump was counting on with his remarks Friday — and again Saturday and Sunday — that were as ignorant as they were inflammatory, yet more racist dog whistles for his base. Perhaps he figured the league that has effectively blackballed Colin Kaepernick would let his thinly veiled bigotry pass in uncomfortable silence.
But the NFL showed Sunday that Trump has badly overplayed his hand.
“We will not stand for the injustice that has plagued people of color in this country,” the Seattle Seahawks said in a statement announcing that the team would stay in the locker room during the national anthem.
Even in a league where blinders might as well be part of the uniform, it was not lost on anyone that Trump found a way to defend Nazi protesters yet called Kaepernick and anyone else who protested during the national anthem a “son of a (expletive).” Ditto for his history of calling out and criticizing people of color while letting egregious behavior by whites go unchallenged.
The demonstrations by Kaepernick and the other players who have joined in are not about the national anthem or the military or the flag. They never have been. They are about the racism that continues to be pervasive in our society, manifesting itself in police brutality, economic inequality and disparity in education and opportunity.
No one is naïve enough to assume the NFL will now be the standard bearer in this latest fight for civil rights; moving as all the demonstrations were, it did not go unnoticed that the theme was “unity” rather than inequality, and that very few white players took a knee.
The “Greatest of All Time” is getting the HBO treatment. The cabler is partnering with director Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day”) and LeBron James for a multi-part documentary about the life of Muhammad Ali.
The as yet-untitled documentary, which will explore Ali’s greatest triumphs and comebacks, has started production. It hails from James and Maverick Carter’s SpringHill Entertainment and Fuqua’s Fuqua Films. No air date has been set.
“Muhammad Ali is indisputably one of the most iconic and distinctive figures in the history of world sports,” said Kary Antholis, president of HBO miniseries and Cinemax. “His impact resonates far beyond the boxing ring and is woven deep into the cultural and social tapestry of the second half of the 20th century. From the moment LeBron James told us of his deep visceral connection to Ali’s life and legacy, we were committed to helping him realize this film, and our enthusiasm has only grown as Antoine Fuqua has developed his compelling cinematic vision for telling one man’s incredible journey.”
Said Fuqua, “Muhammad Ali meant many things to many people, and he is someone who had a deep impact on me from an early age. Being given the opportunity to tell his story, both inside and outside of the ring, is a privilege, and a dream come true.”
LeBron James is donating $2.5 million to support a Muhammad Ali exhibit at the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., the basketball star and the museum announced on Thursday.
The Cleveland Cavaliers forward said he was a longtime fan of Ali, one of the most beloved sports figures in history, who died on June 3 after a lengthy battle with Parkinson’s syndrome. “Every professional athlete, regardless of race and gender, owes a huge debt of gratitude to Muhammad Ali,” James said in a statement. “His legacy deserves to be studied and revered by every generation.”
The “Muhammad Ali: A Force for Change” exhibit features items from the late boxer, including a training robe worn at Dundee’s Fifth Street Gym in Miami. While the exhibit details Ali’s sports journey, it also highlights his community activism, spirituality and politics.
“We are extremely grateful to LeBron James,” said Damion Thomas, curator of the museum’s Sports Gallery. “As the most socially active superstar in sports today, LeBron James is a testament to the influence of Muhammad Ali (who) embodied the racial and social tumult of his times, blurring lines between politics and sports, activism and entertainment.”
James’ business partner, Maverick Carter, is also contributing to the exhibit, which has been on display since the museum opened on Sept. 24.
The funds will also support the museum itself, which is located on the National Mall.
ESPN will provide live coverage of Muhammad Ali’s memorial service Friday in his hometown of Louisville, KY. As a result, the network is shifting its coverage of the opening match of the European soccer championships between host France and Romania to ESPN2. Coverage for both events begin at 2 PM ET.
Ali died Friday in Arizona after suffering for years with Parkinson’s disease. The three-time heavyweight champ and worldwide sports icon was 74.
Former President Bill Clinton,Billy Crystal and Bryant Gumbel are among those scheduled to give eulogies at the service, to be held as the 22,000-seat KFC Yum! Center. That comes after a funeral procession travels along Muhammad Ali Boulevard and past his boyhood home on its way to Cave Hill Cemetery. The pallbearers include Will Smith, who played the champ in 2001’s Ali.
To read more, go to: http://deadline.com/2016/06/muhammad-ali-funeral-tv-coverage-espn-1201769223/
UPDATE with I Am The Greatest marathon: Television specials and special programming for the late Muhammad Ali are being put together quickly on both broadcast and cable networks, with ABC’s 20/20, CBS’s 48 Hours and Spike TV airing tributes to The Greatest on Saturday night and 60 Minutes re-airing its 1996 interview with Ali. We will update this post as more specials are announced, so keep checking back:
WEDNESDAY I Am The Greatest: The Adventures Of Muhammad Ali El Rey Network, June 8 beginning at 10 PM ET
The network will pay tribute to with a marathon of all 13 half-hour episodes of the 1977 animated series which is making its cable premiere. The series aired on Saturday mornings on NBC in 1977 with voices provided by Ali and his real-life publicist Frank Bannister and featured the pair traveling the country fighting crime and solving mysteries both real and supernatural.
The Greatest Bounce TV, 10 PM ET/9 PM CT
Bounce TV will air a special presentation of The Greatest, the 1977 motion picture in which Ali appeared as himself. The dramatization of Ali’s life starts with his winning the heavyweight gold medal at the 1960 Olympic Games and continues through his defeat of George Foreman at the legendary Rumble in the Jungle.
As the world continues to celebrate the legacy of boxing great Muhammad Ali, who died Friday night at age 74, Sony pictures has today announced the re-release of its 2001 biopic Ali.
Written and directed by Michael Mann and starring Will Smith, the film charts the life and career of the three-time Heavyweight champion, philanthropist and civil rights icon from 1964 to his 1974 victory over George Foreman in the famous “Rumble in the Jungle” bout. The film will play this weekend in a few hundred theaters nationwide.
“With the passing of Muhammad Ali, we have received many requests for this film to return to theaters, in celebration of his life,” said Rory Bruer, president of Worldwide Distribution for Sony Pictures. “The film truly honors everything that made Ali one of the central figures of our time, a man who commanded his sport but whose personal faith and principles made him mean so much more. Muhammad Ali truly was The Greatest, and this tribute is a great way to honor him.”
The film garnered two Oscar nominations – Best Actor for Will Smith, and Best Supporting Actor for JonVoight, who portrayed Howard Cosell. Ali also starred Jamie Foxx, Mario Van Peebles, Ron Silver, Jeffrey Wright, and Mykelti Williamson.
Source: Muhammad Ali Biopic ‘Ali’ Starring Will Smith Gets Re-Release | Deadline
Muhammad Ali, the three-time world heavyweight boxing champion who helped define his turbulent times as the most charismatic and controversial sports figure of the 20th century, died on Friday. He was 74.
His death was confirmed by Bob Gunnell, a family spokesman.
Ali was the most thrilling if not the best heavyweight ever, carrying into the ring a physically lyrical, unorthodox boxing style that fused speed, agility and power more seamlessly than that of any fighter before him.
But he was more than the sum of his athletic gifts. An agile mind, a buoyant personality, a brash self-confidence and an evolving set of personal convictions fostered a magnetism that the ring alone could not contain.
Ali was as polarizing a superstar as the sports world has ever produced — both admired and vilified in the 1960s and ’70s for his religious, political and social stances. His refusal to be drafted during the Vietnam War, his rejection of racial integration at the height of the civil rights movement, his conversion from Christianity to Islam and the changing of his “slave” name, Cassius Clay, to one bestowed by the Nation of Islam, were perceived as serious threats by the conservative establishment and noble acts of defiance by the liberal opposition.
Loved or hated, he remained for 50 years one of the most recognizable people on the planet.
In later life Ali became something of a secular saint, a legend in soft focus. He was respected for having sacrificed more than three years of his boxing prime and untold millions of dollars for his antiwar principles after being banished from the ring; he was extolled for his un-self-conscious gallantry in the face of incurable illness, and he was beloved for his accommodating sweetness in public.
That passive image was far removed from the exuberant, talkative, vainglorious 22-year-old who bounded out of Louisville, Ky., and onto the world stage in 1964 with an upset victory over Sonny Liston to become the world champion. The press called him the Louisville Lip. He called himself the Greatest.
Ali also proved to be a shape-shifter — a public figure who kept reinventing his persona.
As a bubbly teenage gold medalist at the 1960 Olympics in Rome, he parroted America’s Cold War line, lecturing a Soviet reporter about the superiority of the United States. But he became a critic of his country and a government target in 1966 with his declaration “I ain’t got nothing against them Vietcong.”
“He lived a lot of lives for a lot of people,” said the comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory. “He was able to tell white folks for us to go to hell.”
If there was a supertitle to Ali’s operatic life, it was this: “I don’t have to be who you want me to be; I’m free to be who I want.” He made that statement the morning after he won his first heavyweight title. It informed every aspect of his life, including the way he boxed.
The traditionalist fight crowd was appalled by his style; he kept his hands too low, the critics said, and instead of allowing punches to “slip” past his head by bobbing and weaving, he leaned back from them.
Eventually his approach prevailed. Over 21 years, he won 56 fights and lost five. His Ali Shuffle may have been pure showboating, but the “rope-a-dope” — in which he rested on the ring’s ropes and let an opponent punch himself out — was the stratagem that won the Rumble in the Jungle against George Foreman in 1974, the fight in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) in which he regained his title.
John Legend‘s career transcends his success as an artist. Over the past decade, he’s established several philanthropic and social justice organizations where he uses his influence to make a difference in the lives of others.
The “Glory” singer will be presented with the NAACP President’s Award at this year’s NAACP Image Awards.
“His contributions to music and artistic creativity have been recognized by peers and fans worldwide, and he is greatly admired for his humanitarian efforts” said Cornell William Brooks,President and CEO, NAACP.
“Legend remains a true inspiration through his philanthropic work and I am truly proud to honor his altruistic efforts both domestically and internationally by bestowing upon him this year’s NAACP President’s Award” added Brooks.
Previous honorees include Kerry Washington,President Bill Clinton, Soledad O’Brien, Muhammad Ali and most recently, Spike Lee.
In 2007, Legend established “The Show Me Campaign” with the mission of providing students with a quality education as well as end the school-to-prison pipeline. Similarly, he recently launched, #FREEAMERICA, a multi-year culture change campaign focused on ending mass incarceration.
The nine-time Grammy award winner, Golden Globe and Oscar winner also has a successful production company, Get Lifted Film Co. that strives to provide TV and film content that’s inclusive and inspirational.
Legend, 37 and his wife, model Chrissy Teigen, 30, are expecting their first child this summer.
Watch Legend accept the coveted honor when the NAACP Image Awards air live on TV One Friday, February 5th at 9pm.