Since 1960, when he won gold in Rome, to 1996 when he managed with shaking hands to light the Olympic Cauldron in Atlanta, he has been a symbol of all that is inspirational and heroic about the event
In 2012, to mark Alis 70th birthday, a major exhibition is being held at Formans Smokehouse Gallery
, overlooking the London 2012 Olympic stadium. Photographs and paintings of Ali at different stages of his life are being shown alongside audio and video installations, poetry and memorabilia, recording not just his contribution to sport but also his extraordinary humanitarian work through the decades.
The opening private view brought together some of the greats of British boxing over the last 25 years. They included Duke McKenzie, Dave Boy Green, Colin McMillan and Prince Rodney, to name but a few. Other Olympic boxing teams as well as many celebrities will also be invited, including representatives of Amnesty International and Parkinsons research.
Alis brother, Rahaman Ali, flew in from the United States to officially open the private view.
The exhibition organizers and sponsors are teaming up with ex-boxers Oliver Wilson (British Light Middle, Middleweight and Henry Cooper Golden Belt Champion) and Rod Douglas (Commonwealth gold medalist, 4 time ABAE Champion and Olympian) to deliver The Muhammad Ali Outreach Programme, which will work with deserving young boxers from Holland and England. Together with Rahaman Ali and young people from the local community, they will present a non-contact boxing extravaganza at the Private View on the 19th July and in Guildford on 20th.
All artworks at the In the Rings with Ali exhibition is for sale and a percentage of the profits will be donated to Amnesty International, Parkinsons Research, and to a local boxing club in East London.
Three times world heavyweight champion, self-proclaimed The Greatest, Muhammad Ali was never less than entertaining as a fighter. There were his pre-fight insults to opponents delivered in rhyming couplets, his unorthodox fighting style which he described as float like a butterfly, sting like a bee and his homespun, inspirational views on life.
For the last 25 years, despite suffering increasing physical disability associated with Parkinsons Syndrome, Ali has worked tirelessly for the humanitarian causes he believes in, including relief of poverty, education, adoption, race relations, and encouraging people of all races to understand and respect each other.
Ali has helped to provide 232 million meals to those suffering food poverty, and has hand-delivered food and medical supplies to needy communities in Asia, Africa and North and South America.
He is the international ambassador of Jubilee 2000, a global organization dedicated to relieving debt in developing nations.
He has raised millions of dollars for research into Parkinsons Disease.
Ali has been a peace campaigner since the 1960s, when he refused to fight in Vietnam, and he continues to fight for peace to this day.
In the 1960s he worked alongside black activists to try to end race discrimination in the US, and he remains an ambassador for race relations under Obamas administration.
Former President Jimmy Carter called Ali Mr International Friendship and in 2005 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Amnesty International have given him their Lifetime Achievement Award and the Secretary-General of the UN bestowed him with the citation United Nations Messenger of Peace.
No other sportsman has done so much, in so many areas, while fighting severe progressive illness, but as Ali says: He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life