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Ali Festival celebrates Louisville-born, boxing legend Muhammad Ali with a week of events

Ali Festival week aims to uphold and promote the vaules of Louisville-born boxing legend through a series of events.
Ali Festival week aims to uphold and promote the vaules of Louisville-born boxing legend through a series of events.

Louisville residents and visitors can celebrate the life and legacy of boxing legend Muhammad Ali during Ali Festival Week.

Beginning June 3, the day of Ali’s death in 2016, the week includes several public events around town.  

Organizers with the Muhammad Ali Center started the festival after his death to commemorate his impact, values and love for his hometown. It’s now an annual event. 

“It makes us remember not just Muhammad, the great Louisvillian, the great Kentuckian, the great humanitarian, but the values he espoused and that he believed in of loving people of being compassionate,” Ali’s widow Lonnie Ali said. 

She said her late husband was a constant source of optimism and that it was hard not to feel it. 

“Muhammad often said that ‘I wish people would everybody the way they love me’,” Ali center CEO and President Marilynn Jackson said. “So I really hope during this week’s festival and this week’s events we can realize his vision of a kinder, more compassionate and just world.”

Events include a Roses & Remembrance ceremony at Cave Hill Cemetery and the Daughters of Greatness Breakfast. This year’s breakfast will honor Nzinga Garvey for her work increasing access to scholarships and resources for medical students of color.

The Ali Center will host a family day on June 5. Attendees can see the Center’s regular exhibits at a discounted price alongside additional activities like arts and crafts, film screenings and boxing demonstrations.

Lonnie Ali said people don’t have to attend to participate. 

“If you don’t do anything else, even if you’re not able to this week, the one thing I would ask all Louisvillians is to try and be kinder, nicer, gentler to your neighbors, to those you don’t know,” she said. 

A full list of Ali Festival events can be found on the festival’s website

Gov. Andy Beshear made June 3 through 10, Ali Festival Week statewide through a proclamation Wednesday.

Louisville Public Media, the parent company of WFPL News, is a sponsor for the Ali Festival.

Breya Jones is the Arts & Culture Reporter for LPM. Email Breya at bjones@lpm.org.