Louisville - Muhammad Ali won another round
of love and appreciation for his achievements as a fighter in and out of the
The latest celebration of the three-time
world heavyweight champion and self-proclaimed "Greatest of All Time"
featured former champions and Larry Holmes and George Foreman, two notable
erstwhile opponents who gladly came to honour Ali on Thursday night in his
Friends, associates, dignitaries and former
NBA star Shaquille O'Neal also were on hand for the ceremony on the 40th
anniversary of Ali's third fight with Joe Frazier in the Philippines, an epic
14-round battle known as the "Thrilla in Manila." Ali earned his
second victory over Frazier when the former champion didn't come out for the
final round, and that fight is considered one of the greatest events in boxing
The 73-year-old Ali is battling Parkinson's
disease. Seated at a front table with wife Lonnie to his right, the champion
wore sunglasses as a slide show of iconic photos played behind him. He did not
speak and no photos were permitted during the ceremony, but the champ broke a
big smile when O'Neal arrived and took Lonnie's place at the table.
His presence was one of a few yearly visits
home, as he spends most of his time in Arizona along with homes in several
Ali's victory and other notable moments
were highlighted on a backdrop of two dozen magazine covers at different points
of his three-decade career as a fighter and half-century as a humanitarian.
This week's Sports Illustrated cover
features Ali as a young fighter. Other notable moments were featured in a video
montage in which he described himself as "The Greatest."
One cover included Foreman, who has come to
grips with being a footnote in Ali's legacy after his 1974 loss in the
"Rumble In The Jungle" in Zaire.
"This means a lot," a
trim-looking Foreman said, "because it was boxing and we all enjoyed being
part of it. I wish I could have enjoyed it then as much as I enjoy it now."
Ali has been part of many moments in and
out of the ring during a career that included winning an Olympic gold medal and
speaking out on many social, athletic and humanitarian issues. Fittingly, he
was honoured in the centre bearing his name and just four miles from his
Wherever Ali is recognised, Holmes wants to
"I hope we can do this next year and
the year after that," said Holmes, a onetime sparring partner who beat Ali