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Author Topic: John To Headline At Muhammad Ali's 70th Birthday Party  (Read 23992 times)
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« on: January 13, 2012, 04:29:08 pm »


LOUISVILLE, KY (January 13, 2012)… Muhammad Ali, who once said, “Old age is just a record of one’s whole life,” will be turning a landmark 70 years young on January 17. In Louisville, on Saturday evening, January 14, Muhammad will be celebrating seven decades of accomplishments with special guests and entertainers in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. This private event, a fundraiser for the Muhammad Ali Center, includes a guest list of friends, supporters, luminaries, celebrities, and great people who have made a true difference in his life.

The four hour dinner event will include entertainment and production by David Foster, 16-time Grammy Award-winning musician; a very special solo performance John Mellencamp, Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter, musician, Farm Aid Founder, painter, actor, and life-long resident of neighboring Southern Indiana; Australian singer-songwriter Michael Johns, from the seventh season of American Idol; and PiaToscano, an American singer from the tenth season of American Idol.

Also in attendance will be those who make the news and those who report it: NBC news icons Matt Lauer, Ann Curry, and Bryant Gumbel; ESPN commentator Michael Wilbon; American hikers held in Iran: Josh Fattal, Shane Bauer, and Sarah Shourd.

Sports figures will be there, too: Ali's longtime trainer, Angelo Dundee; Three-time heavyweight boxing champion and Celebrity Apprentice contender, Lennox Lewis; University of Louisville coaches: Rick Pitino and Charlie Strong; and University of Kentucky Coach John Calipari;

Artists of many disciplines will be in attendance including: Las Vegas magician Shimshi; photographers Neil Leifer and Howard Bingham; screen writer Greg Howard; and Academy Award-winning director Leon Gast.

Finally, Commonwealth of Kentucky Officials will be in Louisville to honor "The Champ" on this hometown celebration: Governor Steve Beshear; Ltd. Governor Steve Beshear;Congressman John Yarmuth; and Mayor Greg Fischer.

This momentous birthday celebration kicks off a week-long series of activities--Seven Days for Seven Decades--at the Muhammad Ali Center, that celebrate the incredible life and legacy of "The Champ", whose life has inspired millions of people around the world.

For more information, please visit the Ali Center's web site at


Kentucky Government Officials

Congressman John Yarmuth is the U.S. Representative for Kentucky's 3rd congressional district.

Governor Steve Beshear is an American politician who is the 61st Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Lieutenant Governor Jerry Edwin Abramson is a Democratic politician who is the 55th and current Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky.

Mayor Gregory E. Fischer is a businessman, entrepreneur, community leader, and current Mayor of Louisville, Kentucky.


David Walter Foster, is a 16-time Grammy Award-winning musician, record producer, composer, singer, songwriter, and arranger who currently serves as the Chairman of Verve Music Group.

John Mellencamp is Grammy Award-winning rock singer-songwriter, musician, Farm Aid Founder, painter and actor. A hallmark of John Mellencamp's musical career, spanning more than four decades, has been his dedication to the cause of social justice including his role in founding Farm Aid, his advocacy for working people and the right to aliving wage for all Americans. Apart from the commercial success he achieved with the sale of an estimated 40 million albums, Mellencamp has been honored with 13 Grammy nominations, the Woody Guthrie Award, Billboard's Century Award, ASCAP Foundation's Champion Award and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He continues to record, tour and this spring, Ghost Brother of Darkland County, a musical play that is a collaboration with Stephen King, will debut at Atlanta's Alliance Theater.

Michael Johns is an Australian singer-songwriter who finished in eighth place on the seventh season of American Idol.

Pia Ann Rose Toscano an American singer who placed ninth on the tenth season of American Idol.


Leon Gast is an Academy-Award winning documentary film director, producer, cinematographer, and editor best known for his documentary, When We Were Kings (1996).


Gregory Allen Howard is an American screenwriter best known for writing the screenplay for Remember The Titans (2000) and Ali (2001).


Howard Bingham is the biographer of Muhammad Ali and a professional photographer.

Neil Leifer is a photographer and filmmaker known mainly for his work in the Time Inc. family of magazines and is generally considered the greatest sports photographer in history.

Sports Figures

Angelo Dundee is an American boxing cornerman best known for his work with Muhammad Ali.

Lennox Claudius Lewis is a retired boxer and the most recent undisputed world heavyweight champion.

Rick Pitino is an American basketball coach. Since 2001, he has been the head coach at the University of Louisville.

Charlie R. Strong currently serves as the head coach for the University of Louisville Cardinals football team.

John Calipari is the men's head basketball coach at the University of Kentucky

News Icons

Ann Curry is an American television news journalist, photojournalist, and a co-anchor on NBC's morning television program The Today Show.

Matthew Todd "Matt" Lauer is an American television journalist best known as a co-anchor of NBC's The Today Show.

Bryant Charles Gumbel is an American television journalist and sportscaster, and currently hosts Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel on HBO.

Michael Ray Wilbon is a former sportswriter and columnist for the Washington Post and current ESPN commentator. He serves as an analyst for ESPN and co-hosts Pardon the Interruption on ESPN with former Post writer Tony Kornheiser, and has been doing so since 2001.

American Hikers in Iran
On July 31, 2009, three Americans, Sarah Shourd, Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal were taken into custody by Iranian border guards for allegedly crossing into Iran while hiking near the Iranian border in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Shane Bauer
Shane Bauer, who grew up both in Onamia, Minnesota and San Leandro, California, is a freelance photojournalist and journalist who has worked for Pacifica News Service, Mother Jones,and The Nation.
Sarah Shourd
Sarah Shourd, who grew up in Los Angeles, California, worked in education and social justice in Damascus, Syria, where she provided educational opportunities to refugees from the war in Iraq and taught English.
Joshua Fattal
Joshua Fattal, who grew up in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, is an environmentalist and educator.


Shimshi is currently the resident magician at the Wynn│Encore Las Vegas, and also performs in “Amazed,” a daily show, at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino.

The Muhammad Ali Center is a 501(c)3 cultural attraction and international education center that is inspired by the ideals of Muhammad Ali. Featuring an award-winning visitor experience, educational and public programming, and global initiatives, the Ali Center reaches beyond its physical walls to fulfill its mission: To preserve and share the legacy and ideals of Muhammad Ali, to promote respect, hope and understanding, and to inspire adults and children everywhere to be as great as they can be. For more information, please call (502) 584-9254 or

One of the Crazy Ones...
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« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2012, 05:26:11 pm »

What an honour!  Sounds like a great party and a fantastic fundraiser.
One of the Crazy Ones...
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« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2012, 09:08:43 pm »

Did John knew Muhammad Ali personally?
Certified Mellenhead
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« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2012, 04:01:08 pm »

TIME magazine article about it. Does not say what songs he sang.
Ali is an amazing man.

The Louisville Party: Happy 70th Birthday Muhammad Ali

Read more:,8599,2104510,00.html#ixzz1jYxeelTW

"Muhammad Ali walked slowly to a mezzanine railing, one floor above a crowd of well-wishers in the lobby of the center in Louisville, Kentucky that bears his name, and waved. A crowd in the lobby below, which had been buzzing moments earlier while waiting to be whisked to the sixth floor for a private party, fell silent for an instant, then clapped and broke into the familiar chant of "Ali, Ali."

Even as he approaches his 70th birthday, the man they call The Greatest, still the most recognizable face on the planet, commands a room. "This isn't a tribute, it's a birthday party," John Ramsey, a Louisville media personality and longtime Ali friend, told the crowd, which then broke into a rendition of "Happy Birthday."
(PHOTOS: Remembering Muhammad Ali's Rumble in the Jungle)

That delighted Ali, who was wearing a dark suit, white shirt and red-and-blue tie and flanked by his wife Lonnie and her sister, Marilyn Williams. Ali, who was hospitalized recently (the family said it was dehydration), moves slowly these days. His hands shake and he often needs someone to lean on when he walks, though he walked to the railing on his own. But though the Parkinson's disease he has battled for many years makes it difficult for him to speak, his charisma and mischievous sense of humor come through in his body language. Even now, people are drawn to him.

Ali turns 70 on Tuesday. The celebrity-laden party at the Muhammad Ali Center, which doubled as a $1,000-per-plate fundraiser for the non-profit center, is one of five planned parties across the country over the next couple of months.

"I don't know if [his career] resonates with young people now," ESPN commentator Michael Wilbon told TIME. "I don't know if they know about the the controversy, how reviled he was. Who in the culture now starts out that reviled and becomes that beloved? You don't see it."

Ali's brother Rahaman Ali, 68, recalls his brother as a "jolly, gay, beautiful, kind and sweet person" who never beat up on him and in fact protected him from other kids. "We could see the greatness in him when he was 12," Rahaman Ali told TIME.
(LIST: Top 10 'Evil' Sports)

"He's the greatest fighter who ever lived," said former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis, who told TIME he used to sit with his mother in front of the TV and watch Ali fight. "I always got mad if I didn't see the Ali shuffle," he said. Lewis, who emulated the shuffle, said he's visited the Ali Center several times. "It always inspires me."

"This man has committed himself in a way most people don't fully realize," NBC's Ann Curry told TIME as she waited for the party to begin. "I think it's hard to quantify humanitarian impact. You win a title, and they give you a fancy belt and your name up in lights. When you make children less hungry; when you ease suffering; when you make people less afraid; when you increase equality in the world, there's not as much fanfare or attention, but the impact actually is deeper and long-lasting. So I'm here to say that and stand up for him on his 70th birthday."

Wilbon grew up on the South Side of Chicago during a time Ali lived part time in Chicago; he recalls seeing the champ shooting dice and hanging out with kids in the neighborhood. Though he was too young to be personally inspired by Ali's example, he said in hindsight it's a profound lesson and more remarkable because that sort of courage is lacking in contemporary society. "He chose to do difficult things," Wilbon said. "People don't want to do that anymore. I thank him for it, and that's something he did underscore for me."

Neil Leifer, who took the iconic photograph of Ali standing over Sonny Liston, said, "I was a kid when I first photographed Ali. The same goes for Howard Cosell — he wasn't much older than me. Ali made him famous. He made a hero out of everybody. But that's the thing about Muhammad that was so special; you didn't have to be Howard Cosell or me working for Sports Illustrated. He treated the kid who came from a high school newspaper the same as he would treat Life mag or Sport Illustrated."

David Jones can attest to that. Living in Kansas City in 1974, Jones had a chance encounter with Ali at a fundraiser. Boxing was, of course, the subject of discussion. Jones' father, to punish him for breaking a window, made him start boxing, and in 1968, Jones became a Golden Gloves champion at 139 pounds. It was during their conversation that Ali learned that Jones worked for TWA. "He said, 'You come and watch me fight George Foreman,'" Jones told TIME. Jones used his airlines connections to make it to Zaire and has been an Ali acolyte since, attending a dozen matches (along with fights by Ali's daughter, Laila) and taking thousands of photographs.
(PHOTOS: Joe Frazier, Ali's Most Famous Opponent)

"Muhammad Ali is many things to many people," says Jones, who traveled from Dallas for the birthday party. "He proved that if you can dream it, you can do it. If you struggle in life, there's an inner spirit that will take you to the next level."

And Ali had fun along the way, says John Calipari, the University of Kentucky men's basketball coach. "The reason I loved him is because of his confidence," he told TIME. "He would talk, and he would back it up. He had great courage to go against the grain. And look how much fun he had." Calipari added: "He understood that he had a brand before anybody understood or heard about brands. He was ahead of the curve."

The party drew numerous celebrities, including Curry and Matt Lauer of NBC's "Today Show." Rocker John Mellencamp, with new girlfriend Meg Ryan in tow, was scheduled to provide entertainment. Angelo Dundee, Ali's longtime trainer, attended the party, as did Ali biographer and photographer Howard Bingham. Three attendees were particularly grateful to be there: Josh Fattal, Shane Bauer and Sara Shourd, the American hikers who were detained in Iran. Ali, as a prominent American Muslim, went to bat to win their release.

On Friday, Lonnie Ali told reporters that her husband is "glad he's here to turn 70, but he wants to be reassured he doesn't look 70." And she said he loves the attention. "Muhammad likes celebrations that involve him and are centered around him. He's still a big kid in that area. He loves birthdays."
« Last Edit: January 15, 2012, 04:15:14 pm by Mellenfan71 » Logged
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