Muhammad Ali, the boxing legend who amassed several championships during his career, will receive the 2012 Liberty Medal.
Ali, 70, will receive the medal in a ceremony on Sept. 17 at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, reports the Associated Press.
Ali embodies the spirit of the Liberty Medal by embracing the ideals of the Constitution -- freedom, self-governance, equality and empowerment -- and helping to spread them across the globe, said former President Bill Clinton, chairman of the National Constitution Center.
Muhammad Ali symbolizes all that makes America great, while pushing us as a people and as a nation to be better,' said National Constitution Center President and CEO David Eisner, according to the NCC blog. Each big fight of his life has inspired a new chapter of civic action. We look forward to welcoming him back to the Center, particularly during this momentous 225th anniversary year.
The Constitution was drafted in Philadelphia in 1787.
Born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. on Jan. 17, 1942, Ali began boxing at the age of 12. He would eventually become a top amateur and receive the gold medal for boxing at the Olympics,
In 1964, Ali defeated Sonny Liston, earning his first heavyweight title. That same year, he announced his conversion to Islam and opted to change his name permanently to Muhammad Ali.
However, in his prime, he was stripped of his title for refusing to serve in the military during the Vietnam War. He declared to the courts that he was a conscientious objector. After a long legal dispute that reached the Supreme Court, the court ruled in his favor in 1971 and he did not serve jail time.
Not everyone is a great fan of Muhammad Ali, or that he was a conscientious objector, Eisner said, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. But Eisner said everyone should respect the man's ideals and principles.
Three years after his retirement, Ali announced that he developed Parkinson's disease. Researchers believe that repeated blows to the head could have been a factor, the AP reported.
Still afflicted with the disease, Ali cannot physically deliver his speech. His wife, Yolanda, will speak in his place, reported the Philadelphia Inquirer.
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