John To Headline At Muhammad Ali's 70th Birthday Party

Official Press Release: Muhammad Ali's 70th Birthday Party: Hometown Celebration and Line-Up of Special Guests

LOUISVILLE, KY (January 13, 2012)… Muhammad Ali, who once said, “Old age is just a record of one’s whole life,” will be turning a landmark 70 years young on January 17. In Louisville, on Saturday evening, January 14, Muhammad will be celebrating seven decades of accomplishments with special guests and entertainers in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. This private event, a fundraiser for the Muhammad Ali Center, includes a guest list of friends, supporters, luminaries, celebrities, and great people who have made a true difference in his life.

The four hour dinner event will include entertainment and production by David Foster, 16-time Grammy Award-winning musician; a very special solo performance John Mellencamp, Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter, musician, Farm Aid Founder, painter, actor, and life-long resident of neighboring Southern Indiana; Australian singer-songwriter Michael Johns, from the seventh season of American Idol; and PiaToscano, an American singer from the tenth season of American Idol.

Also in attendance will be those who make the news and those who report it: NBC news icons Matt Lauer, Ann Curry, and Bryant Gumbel; ESPN commentator Michael Wilbon; American hikers held in Iran: Josh Fattal, Shane Bauer, and Sarah Shourd.

Sports figures will be there, too: Ali's longtime trainer, Angelo Dundee; Three-time heavyweight boxing champion and Celebrity Apprentice contender, Lennox Lewis; University of Louisville coaches: Rick Pitino and Charlie Strong; and University of Kentucky Coach John Calipari;

Artists of many disciplines will be in attendance including: Las Vegas magician Shimshi; photographers Neil Leifer and Howard Bingham; screen writer Greg Howard; and Academy Award-winning director Leon Gast.

Finally, Commonwealth of Kentucky Officials will be in Louisville to honor "The Champ" on this hometown celebration: Governor Steve Beshear; Ltd. Governor Steve Beshear;Congressman John Yarmuth; and Mayor Greg Fischer.

This momentous birthday celebration kicks off a week-long series of activities--Seven Days for Seven Decades--at the Muhammad Ali Center, that celebrate the incredible life and legacy of "The Champ", whose life has inspired millions of people around the world.

For more information, please visit the Ali Center's web site at


Kentucky Government Officials

Congressman John Yarmuth is the U.S. Representative for Kentucky's 3rd congressional district.

Governor Steve Beshear is an American politician who is the 61st Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Lieutenant Governor Jerry Edwin Abramson is a Democratic politician who is the 55th and current Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky.

Mayor Gregory E. Fischer is a businessman, entrepreneur, community leader, and current Mayor of Louisville, Kentucky.


David Walter Foster, is a 16-time Grammy Award-winning musician, record producer, composer, singer, songwriter, and arranger who currently serves as the Chairman of Verve Music Group.

John Mellencamp is Grammy Award-winning rock singer-songwriter, musician, Farm Aid Founder, painter and actor. A hallmark of John Mellencamp's musical career, spanning more than four decades, has been his dedication to the cause of social justice including his role in founding Farm Aid, his advocacy for working people and the right to aliving wage for all Americans. Apart from the commercial success he achieved with the sale of an estimated 40 million albums, Mellencamp has been honored with 13 Grammy nominations, the Woody Guthrie Award, Billboard's Century Award, ASCAP Foundation's Champion Award and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He continues to record, tour and this spring, Ghost Brother of Darkland County, a musical play that is a collaboration with Stephen King, will debut at Atlanta's Alliance Theater.

Michael Johns is an Australian singer-songwriter who finished in eighth place on the seventh season of American Idol.

Pia Ann Rose Toscano an American singer who placed ninth on the tenth season of American Idol.


Leon Gast is an Academy-Award winning documentary film director, producer, cinematographer, and editor best known for his documentary, When We Were Kings (1996).


Gregory Allen Howard is an American screenwriter best known for writing the screenplay for Remember The Titans (2000) and Ali (2001).


Howard Bingham is the biographer of Muhammad Ali and a professional photographer.

Neil Leifer is a photographer and filmmaker known mainly for his work in the Time Inc. family of magazines and is generally considered the greatest sports photographer in history.

Sports Figures

Angelo Dundee is an American boxing cornerman best known for his work with Muhammad Ali.

Lennox Claudius Lewis is a retired boxer and the most recent undisputed world heavyweight champion.

Rick Pitino is an American basketball coach. Since 2001, he has been the head coach at the University of Louisville.

Charlie R. Strong currently serves as the head coach for the University of Louisville Cardinals football team.

John Calipari is the men's head basketball coach at the University of Kentucky

News Icons

Ann Curry is an American television news journalist, photojournalist, and a co-anchor on NBC's morning television program The Today Show.

Matthew Todd "Matt" Lauer is an American television journalist best known as a co-anchor of NBC's The Today Show.

Bryant Charles Gumbel is an American television journalist and sportscaster, and currently hosts Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel on HBO.

Michael Ray Wilbon is a former sportswriter and columnist for the Washington Post and current ESPN commentator. He serves as an analyst for ESPN and co-hosts Pardon the Interruption on ESPN with former Post writer Tony Kornheiser, and has been doing so since 2001.

American Hikers in Iran
On July 31, 2009, three Americans, Sarah Shourd, Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal were taken into custody by Iranian border guards for allegedly crossing into Iran while hiking near the Iranian border in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Shane Bauer
Shane Bauer, who grew up both in Onamia, Minnesota and San Leandro, California, is a freelance photojournalist and journalist who has worked for Pacifica News Service, Mother Jones,and The Nation.
Sarah Shourd
Sarah Shourd, who grew up in Los Angeles, California, worked in education and social justice in Damascus, Syria, where she provided educational opportunities to refugees from the war in Iraq and taught English.
Joshua Fattal
Joshua Fattal, who grew up in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, is an environmentalist and educator.


Shimshi is currently the resident magician at the Wynn│Encore Las Vegas, and also performs in “Amazed,” a daily show, at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino.

The Muhammad Ali Center is a 501(c)3 cultural attraction and international education center that is inspired by the ideals of Muhammad Ali. Featuring an award-winning visitor experience, educational and public programming, and global initiatives, the Ali Center reaches beyond its physical walls to fulfill its mission: To preserve and share the legacy and ideals of Muhammad Ali, to promote respect, hope and understanding, and to inspire adults and children everywhere to be as great as they can be. For more information, please call (502) 584-9254 or