Muhammad Ali named 2012 Liberty Medal recipient
PHILADELPHIA - July 5, 2012 (WPVI) -- Boxing legend Muhammad Ali is the recipient of the 2012 Liberty Medal.
Ali will receive the medal in a ceremony on September 13, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. in Philadelphia at the National Constitution Center on Independence Mall. Action News' own Jim Gardner will host the live broadcast of the Liberty Medal ceremony, which we will stream live on 6abc.com.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and Liberty Medal sponsors made the announcement Thursday.
They said Ali has built a legacy as a "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."
Born Cassius Clay in 1942, Ali is the descendant of pre-Civil War-era American slaves. He grew up in the segregated South and experienced prejudice and discrimination firsthand. As a boxer, he eventually won the Olympic gold medal in Rome in 1960.
Today, as the nation celebrates the 225th anniversary of its founding document, he is recognized as a man that symbolizes all that makes America great.
"In this milestone year," said National Constitution Center President David Eisner, "it is fitting that the Liberty Medal recipient embodies how far we've come as a nation."
6abc, represented by President and General Manager Bernie Prazenica, is the media partner for the Liberty Medal ceremony.
Ali's fans say his greatest legacy is that he stood up for what he believed in. In 1967, he refused to be inducted into the U.S. Armed Forces.
"If I thought going to war would help my people receive their freedom, justice and equality," he said at the time, "You wouldn't have to draft me. I'd go tomorrow."
As a result, Ali was arrested, stripped of his heavyweight boxing title, and convicted of draft evasion.
"We're talking about an extraordinary person, not just a boxer," said Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. "
Ali later took his battle over the draft to the U.S. Supreme Court and won. The high court ruled his religious beliefs were protected by the Constitution.
Since retiring from the ring in 1981, Ali has devoted his life to helping charities in the U.S..and promoting world peace, civil rights and hunger relief.
The Liberty Medal was first awarded in 1989. Previous recipients include rock singer and human rights activist Bono, former South African President Nelson Mandela and former President Jimmy Carter. Six winners have subsequently received the Nobel Peace Prize.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
liberty medal, philadelphia, Muhammad Ali, local/state
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