Yesterday we lost a giant of a human being…in fact someone larger than life.
I had the great good fortune to meet with Muhammad Ali and work with him starting in 1997. At that time I had just conceived of a program which would eventually become World of Children. I explained to him the concept of creating an award structure to rival the Nobel Prize but centered exclusively on children. He listened patiently and then he asked “What makes a kid from Brooklyn think he can make this happen” (I was born in Brooklyn but had not lived there in almost 35 years). My reply was, “The same determination that made you The Champ”.
He smiled as best he could and then nodded his head and said “I like you kid”, (I was 56 at the time) and with that he endorsed the plan and lent his name and his enormous prestige to the effort. He became our first Celebrity Spokesperson, he wrote about us, attended our events and in spite of the battle he was fighting with Parkinson’s stayed with us for 7 years.
We would not be where we are today without Muhammad Ali, without his strength of conviction in what we had envisioned, without his continuing endorsement and attendance. This was the real Champ, committed to children, to justice and to ideals. His courage to speak out and put his career and life on the line for his beliefs are something rarely if ever seen in today’s world.
Along with the entire world and his family we mourn his loss…the will never be another CHAMP.
God bless you Muhammad Ali.
-Harry Leibowitz, Co-Founder