- Associated Press - Sunday, November 22, 2015

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Hundreds of people recently gathered at the Muhammad Ali Center to celebrate its 10-year anniversary and participate in a re-dedication ceremony.

The Courier-Journal reports (https://cjky.it/1N1Xsqi) more than 1,700 people showed up Saturday for the daylong celebration in downtown Louisville.

Organizers were ecstatic over the turnout. Mayor Greg Fischer saluted the humanitarian work of Ali, who did not attend, during the ceremony and former Kentucky Gov. John Y. Brown also stopped by.

“We are over the moon about the attendance and the support and enthusiasm,” said center spokeswoman Jeanie Kahnke.

Unlike the formal, star-studded bash that christened the place a decade ago, the celebration Saturday was for the people. A band played in the main lobby. Kids received balloons, made crafts and got their faces painted with American flags, yellow stars and animals. Everyone received free admission.

A short film playing continuously recounted the construction of the $80 million center. It showed Ali mugging for the camera, throwing a few punches, then printing the word LOVE in black marker on a large beam that was hoisted to the top of the emerging structure.

Several people in attendance said they’ve been inspired by Ali’s work for peace and reconciliation.

Dominique Hazelwood of Louisville said she’s brought her three children to the center countless times, and stopping in was a priority for the family’s weekend.

“I feel like this is something important for them to experience,” she said. “This whole part of history.”

Craig Young, a Cincinnati resident who serves on the center’s board of directors, said the decade celebration marks an important milestone.

“I want to see us pass the torch to the next generations of humanitarians,” Young said.

A company that makes handcrafted wristwatches in Detroit recently announced that it’s partnering with the Muhammad Ali Center on products featuring the boxing great’s name.

Shinola said Thursday that the third watch in its Great Americans Series is the Muhammad Ali Center watch.

Available in men’s and women’s variations, the company said a limited edition of four hundred is planned. The watch is being sold as part of a $2,250 gift set that includes 1960s photographs of Ali by Thomas Hoepker that are signed by the photographer.

Donald Lassere, president and CEO of the Muhammad Ali Center, said in a statement the watch celebrates “the power of Muhammad Ali’s legacy.”

Other products include a bike, paperweight and sweatshirt. Shinola’s Great Americans Series was created to honor iconic Americans.


Information from: The Courier-Journal, https://www.courier-journal.com

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