'Muhammad would have been proud': Widow of Ali to present trophy in his honor to WBSS winner
Prior to his death in June 2016, the iconic three-time heavyweight champion and activist gave his blessing for the tournament trophy to bear his name. The first ever Muhammad Ali trophy will be contested between the two undefeated cruiserweight boxers on Saturday in the Russian capital.
Lonnie, who wed Ali in 1986 and remained married until his death, will personally present the award at Olympiyskiy Sports Complex after the inaugural WBSS final match between Russia's WBA & IBF world champion Gassiev and WBO & WBC titleholder Usyk from Ukraine.
CONFIRMED 🙏👌: Tonight Lonnie Ali, the wife of the late heavyweight icon Muhammad Ali, will present the winner of the #WBSS Cruiserweight Final with the Muhammad Ali Trophy, The Greatest Prize in Boxing pic.twitter.com/Rh1OuzAbc7— Kalle & Nisse Sauerland (@SauerlandBros) July 21, 2018
“Since this is the first Ali Trophy ever presented and as a part of Muhammad’s legacy in boxing, I am proud to be here to represent the Ali family, WBC and its president Mauricio Sulaiman,” Lonnie told the WBSS website.
“Muhammad would have been proud to see one of these champions being rewarded with the trophy that carries his name," she added.
Usyk, who has eleven knockouts from his 14 fights, recently drew parallels between himself and the man nicknamed 'The Greatest', with whom he shares a birthday, citing him as inspiration in his own career.
"I have a big connection with this legendary boxer. We were born on the same day, that’s true. When I knew the tournament for the Muhammad Ali trophy would take place, I couldn’t believe it," Usyk said at Friday's weigh-in.
"But when all the guys taking part signed contracts, I thought if I didn’t also sign up, it would be a kind of betrayal on my part, and naturally I signed a contract," he added.
Nicknamed the ‘Louisville Lip’ during his career, Ali became the youngest boxer to win the world heavyweight championship aged 22 when he knocked out the feared Sonny Liston in 1964 when known as ‘Cassius Clay’.
After joining the Nation of Islam, the 1960 Olympic gold medalist changed his name to ‘Muhammad X’ and then ‘Muhammad Ali’. Upon refusing to be drafted into the US army to serve in the Vietnam War, Ali was imprisoned and stripped of his boxing license, which led to a ring absence of three-and-a-half years.