Muhammad Ali Festival packs bigger punch in 2021
The annual Muhammad Ali Festival, a communitywide celebration that marks the anniversary of Muhammad Ali’s passing and celebrates his impactful legacy and love for Louisville, will take place June 4-13, 2021.
With the recent societal issues that continue to shake up our world—the coronavirus pandemic, a reawakening of racial justice and equality, and a consequent downturn in the tourism industry—the expanded 2021 Muhammad Ali Festival is crafted to provide inspiration, entertainment, education, and activation through events that generate a sense of unity, justice, and a rebirth of Muhammad Ali’s hometown of Louisville. The Festival will kick off with the annual Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards on June 4 and conclude with the Derby City Jazz Festival on June 11-13.
Key partners in the 2021 Ali Festival include Louisville Tourism, the Muhammad Ali Center, Louisville Sports Commission and Derby City Jazz Festival.
“Muhammad Ali was a fighter and a uniter,” said Donald Lassere, President and CEO of the Muhammad Ali Center. “When he passed away on June 3, 2016, Louisville was at the center of a bright and steady spotlight of international news coverage when visitors from all cultures, ages, religions, and races came together with a unified and peaceful intent. Through next year’s Muhammad Ali Festival, we will strive to capture that same sense of harmony and healing, share the power of Muhammad’s legacy, and amplify his voice for social justice through a series of community events that touch people in a personal way and that serve a higher purpose.”
Muhammad Ali Festival events will regenerate tourism to the City and will include diverse activities that involve the community.
“The tourism industry in Louisville is down but not out. As Louisville’s Muhammad Ali once said ‘You don’t lose if you get knocked down; you lose if you stay down,’ and we don’t intend to stay down,” said Karen Williams, President and CEO of Louisville Tourism. “We look forward to this unique festival drawing positive attention to Bourbon City as we continue to honor Louisville’s famous son as well as the City’s authentic bourbon tourism, black culture heritage and iconic museums and attractions, with the Muhammad Ali Center at the core of the festival. This celebration in June will support Louisville’s tourism rebirth, igniting the passion and unity we saw from our community after his passing nearly five years ago.”
The Muhammad Ali Festival will also focus on health equity and wellness. As an athlete, Muhammad Ali became the first three-time heavyweight champion of the world. He was disciplined in his training regimen and dedicated to healthy eating and wellness.
“Muhammad Ali said that champions were made in the long, lonely hours training and preparing for competition, and he practiced what he preached,” said Louisville Sports Commission President and CEO Karl F. Schmitt Jr. “And even when he was no longer in the ring, Muhammad continued to teach us to not shy away from adversity when he shared his Parkinson’s disease battle in front of billions of people as he lit the torch at the Atlanta Olympics. The Muhammad Ali Festival embraces his spirit by adopting exercise and other movement activities as a lifestyle that can lead to better health for all people.”
Festival-goers can unite and bond through a series of musical performances during the last three days of the 10-day Muhammad Ali Festival. “We are very pleased to be a part of the re-birth of the city through the Muhammad Ali Festival,” said Max Maxwell, President and CEO of Derby City Jazz Festival. “After several successful years of bringing people together from across the country, the Derby City Jazz Festival’s programming has grown to include a vast array of experiences to benefit the community, build morale and further establish Louisville as a multicultural destination city. We are thrilled to bring a great line-up of well-known national music acts, health and wellness activations (Fabulous and Fit After Fifty) and unique shopping experiences from vendors in and around the Louisville area.”