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    In 2008 Sports Illustrated, one of the country's premier sports magazines, created a legacy award "to honor former athletes and sports figures who embody the ideals of sportsmanship, leadership and philanthropy as vehicles for changing the world." Today Sports Illustrated announced that the award will from now on be called the Sports Illustrated's Muhammad Ali Legacy Award, after the Louisville-born boxer. 

    Ali will be recognized Thursday at the Muhammad Ali Center here in Louisville. The event also is the 40th anniversary of the "Thrilla in Manila," a boxing match between Ali and Joe Frazier. Some say it was one of the greatest fights of all time. 

    In a statement, Ali said, "To have an award named in my honor by Sports Illustrated is something I could have never expected as a young man back in 1963 when I posed for that first cover. I am truly touched. I know there will be a great tradition of champions to receive this award in the future and I look forward to celebrating their spirit and accomplishments.” 

    Ali has already been given many distinctions from Sports Illustrated including a place on the cover 38 times and the award of Sportsman of the 20th Century. 

    The legacy award has been given to two people: Eunice Kennedy Shriver and Earvin "Magic" Johnson. Shriver was the founder of the Special Olympics and for two decades, Johnson has been an entrepreneur, philanthropist, social and political activist. 

    Take a look at all of Muhammad Ali's Sports Illustrated covers here.

    Photo courtesy of Muhammad Ali Center's Facebook page. 

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    About Will Ford

    Covering Louisville music like it's the 6 o' clock news. I've covered Forecastle, Louder Than Life, Moontower, Starry Nights, and Louisville music news for 3 years. Follow me @parasiticnoise

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