Speaking to Lauer on Tuesday (Aug. 23), Lonnie expressed the importance of public service, a duty her husband loved and kept dear to his heart. Ali died in June at the age of 74 after his long battle with Parkinson’s disease. In addition to his impeccable career as a boxer, he dedicated his voice to tackling racism and other social issues like human trafficking and poverty. “Muhammad had this saying, ‘Service to others is the rent we pay for our room here on Earth,’ and he lived that every day of his life,” Lonnie said. “That’s the actual path he pursued.”
To continue the importance of the champ’s humanitarian spirit, Lonnie introduced Ali 75, an initiative to encourage others to give back. “It’s as simple as taking your neighbor to the grocery who can’t drive or who’s infirm, or joining a 5K run,” Lonnie said. “It can be anything you want to do.” The program challenges those who participate to volunteer 75 hours throughout next year. A series of events for Ali 75 have already taken place in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. The challenge will begin on Jan 17, 2017, on would have been his 75th birthday.
In an interview shortly after his death, Lonnie says her husband was looking to learn more lessons about the world around him.”Muhammad always has understood the big lessons in life,” she explained to USA Today in June. “Some of the smaller lessons Muhammad probably has to learn. Muhammad never asks why. He just takes it and runs with it: “It is what it is, and I’m going to make the best of it.” He never has regrets. Never. He has a strong sense of self; he never forgets who he is. One time my sister told him she felt low, spiritually. She said, “Muhammad, do you ever feel like that?” When he said no, she asked why not and he replied, “Because I’m the most famous man on earth.””
Ali 75 consists of six core principals–confidence, conviction, dedication, giving, respect and spirituality. There’s also the lengthy list of causes volunteers can take part in. From climate action to peace and justice, the campaign allows many people with similar heartfelt causes to meet and change the world together.
To learn more about Ali 75, check out the site here and the interview below.