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Second Annual 'I Am Ali' Festival Begins This Week


The Muhammad Ali Center’s second “I Am Ali” Festival marking the two-year anniversary of Ali’s death will kick off this Friday, June 1.

Over 50 citywide activities are planned for the 10-day festival. Jeanie Kahnke, the Ali Center’s senior director of public relations and external affairs, said the festival’s purpose is to celebrate Ali’s legacy while marking the second anniversary of his death. Ali died on June 3, 2016.

“Muhammad loved people, and he sparked up, you know, when people were around him, especially kids,” Kahnke said. “So I am quite confident that Muhammad would be, you know, so tickled that we’re having a festival in his name that lasts 10 whole days.”

Kahnke said the festival has activities that will appeal to people of all ages. The activities include an “I Am Ali” movie night at Iroquois Amphitheater, a rooftop garden yoga at the Brown Hotel and an “I Am Ali” photo challenge at the Louisville Visitors Center.

Kahnke said she is most looking forward to the festival’s opening and closing events. The festival begins with a baseball game with the Louisville Bats.

Kanhnke said Ali was a huge baseball fan, as is his wife Lonnie, so "it’s very fitting that we would kick off with baseball.”

The free closing celebration on June 10 will be held at the Ali Center. There will be food and drink vendors, a performance by University of Louisville majorette dance team, the Dazzling Cardettes, and a butterfly dome.

Ali Center Renovations

During the festival, guests will also be able to see the Ali Center’s newly renovated lobby and augmented reality exhibit.

Jean-Paul Grivas was one of the architects on the project. He said the renovations included moving the admissions desk, modifying the Wall of Respect and replacing the floor.

“I think once we made our changes, it really added a lot of light, a lot of character back into the space and allowed a lot more use of the floor itself and also allowed us to really focus on some items,” Grivas said.

An augmented reality exhibit was also added to the lobby.

Michael Baer helped design the augmented reality app, which he said uses new technology that hasn’t been used in other museums in Kentucky. He said he was pleased with how the app turned out.

“It’s just such a fun, cool thing to do, and kind of introduces you into some of the exhibits and some of the mission and legacy of Muhammad Ali,” Baer said.

Guests can download the app at the center to begin the augmented reality experience. Once the app is opened, they will point their phone’s camera between two pillars in the lobby. A compilation of videos then takes guests through Ali’s life, his boxing, his mission and his legacy.

More information about the “I Am Ali” Festival can be found at the Muhammad Ali Center’s website.