Muhammad Ali remains a larger-than-life figure even after his death. For more than two decades, family and friends of the former world heavyweight boxing champion have celebrated Ali’s legacy at Celebrity Fight Night, an annual event established by Jimmy Walker to raise money for the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center in hopes of finding a cure for the disease.
This year’s 23rd event, took place at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort and Spa in Phoenix.
Reba McEntire, a good friend of Ali, hosted the event for the 12th consecutive year. She presented the 2017 Muhammad Ali Celebrity Fight Night Awards to actor Harrison Ford and Italian fashion designer Stefano Ricci, who best represent the qualities associated with the Champ and his fight to find a cure.
The room was decorated with giant images of Ali in various stages of his life and there was a replica of a boxing ring at center stage with his name in lights on top.
“We always like coming here,” Laila Ali, Ali’s daughter, said before the occasion. “There is so much love for the Ali family here.”
Ali’s grandson, Jacob Wertheimer, summed up the spirit of the night when he spoke beside his grandmother.
“It doesn’t make sense for me to think that my grandfather is gone,” Wertheimer said. “When I look around this room and see how much work and love and dedication goes into this night, I don’t think he’s gone.”
This years’ event also announced the establishment of the Lonnie Ali Legacy Care Program founded alongside Celebrity Fight Night and the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center to provide the same palliative treatment that Muhammad Ali received together with new innovative programs for patients and their caregivers.