PHILADELPHIA-For all the right reasons, celebrating the 225th anniversary of our nation’s Constitution, the National Constitution Center, under the leadership of CEO and President David Eisner, presented the legendary Muhammad Ali with the 2012 Liberty Medal. Ira Lubert–whose Independence Capital Partners have been the underwriters of perhaps one of the nation’s most cherished awards for the past six years–also presented Ali with $100,000.
It should be noted that this fantastic event, celebrating our Constitution, has also been supported by Citizens Bank as well as the Galbraith family, the dinner sponsors, and Hublot, the Swiss luxury watchmaker company, which also presented Ali with a U.S. Bank timepiece.
Ali’s wife, Lonnie, and his undefeated world championship boxer daughter, Laila, were part of the ceremonies, making Ali–who is continuing his fight against Parkinson’s disease–a happy former Olympic gold medal winner and heavyweight champion of the world. It was left for Eisner to sum up just why Ali joined past NSC Liberty Medal recipients.
A few past honorees include Nelson Mandela, Presidents George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, director Steven Spielberg and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra O’Connor. Eisner, in paying tribute to Ali, said, “We recognize Ali as a champion of freedom and as the living embodiment of the U.S. Constitution’s 225th anniversary … the award was established to honor individuals of courage and conviction who strive to secure the blessing of liberty to people around the globe.”
Ali recently celebrated his 70th birthday and has continued to break new ground as an advocate for those suffering from Parkinson’s disease, which he has battled since 1972. He has long served as an icon of constitutional ideals and the realization of the “American Dream.” Ali stood his ground as an outspoken citizen for religious and civil rights who took his battle to the Supreme Court and won.
Laila Ali joined a panel of athletes, along with Lonnie Ali, in a fast-paced Q&A for the better part of an hour. Included in the dialogue were Dikembe Mutombo, Claressa Shields, the first-ever American female boxer to win a gold medal, and Susan Francia, who won a gold medal in rowing for the United States. The event was highlighted by a rousing ballad sung by Roberta Flack and appearances by Terrence Howard, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett and Michael Nutter, the mayor of Philadelphia.