In recognition of his 80th birthday, PBS Books, USA TODAY and the Muhammad Ali Center will present “Champion of Service: Celebrating Muhammad Ali,” a live virtual event at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022, on the PBS Books Facebook page.
Additional partners include the Louisville Courier Journal, Metro Louisville United Way, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) and Kentucky Educational Television (KET).
Known as the G.O.A.T. for his success inside the boxing ring, this program will explore how Muhammad Ali became a champion of humanitarianism through his commitment to service outside of the ring. Featuring Muhammad’s family members and close friends, this program will provide a unique perspective on the Champ from the people who knew him best. This program will explore how Muhammad inspired those around him to follow in his footsteps through acts of courage, generosity, selflessness, kindness, and compassion.
His widow, and vice chair and co-founder of the Ali Center, Lonnie Ali, will introduce the one-hour event. Guest speakers will include PBS filmmaker Ken Burns; Hana Ali, Muhammad Ali’s daughter; John Ramsey, a personal friend; David Chaudoir, longtime employee; and Dr. Richard Lapchick, who is a human rights activist, author, scholar and the 2021 Muhammad Ali Humanitarian of the Year Award recipient. Each participant will draw upon their personal experiences with Muhammad and share their own unique perspectives on his life and legacy as a humanitarian.
The virtual program will include a short video about the Ali Center and Ken Burns sharing some inspirational comments and a segment from his PBS documentary, “Muhammad Ali.”
This online national program will also offer encouragement to others to participate in service projects across the country on January 17th, 2022, Ali’s birthday. This day also coincides with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, offering another opportunity to give back to those in our own communities who are suffering racial or social injustices.
Our hope is to spark service and acts of kindness within communities across the country on MLK Day and Ali’s birthday, which has traditionally been known as a National Day of Service. Here are resources on how you can plan to do this in your communities:
Find a Volunteer Opportunity
Your community can find a virtual or in person opportunity that fits their needs.
Corporate funding for MUHAMMAD ALI was provided by Bank of America. Major funding was provided by David M. Rubenstein. Major funding was also provided by The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and by The Better Angels Society and by its members Alan and Marcia Docter; Mr. and Mrs. Paul Tudor Jones; The Fullerton Family Charitable Fund; Gilchrist and Amy Berg; The Brooke Brown Barzun Philanthropic Foundation, The Owsley Brown III Philanthropic Foundation and The Augusta Brown Holland Philanthropic Foundation; Perry and Donna Golkin; John and Leslie McQuown; John and Catherine Debs; Fred and Donna Seigel; Susan and John Wieland; Stuart and Joanna Brown; Diane and Hal Brierley; Fiddlehead Fund; Rocco and Debby Landesman; McCloskey Family Charitable Trust; Mauree Jane and Mark Perry; and Donna and Richard Strong. And by viewers like you.