LOUISVILLE, Kentucky – Boxing legend Muhammad Ali left an indelible mark on the world of sports, but his legacy expands far beyond the boxing ring. He has become a champion of issues facing the developing world and devotes his efforts to tackling global hunger, advocating for child protection legislation, and generating funds for scientific research.
In light of his legacy, the Yum! Brands Foundations presented the inaugural Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards last week on October 3, 2013. The event is described as celebrating those who have made significant contributions toward social justice and positive actions that benefit society. It aims to celebrate “the greatness of people around the world who are making differences in their communities and beyond.”
A unique aspect of the Awards is that each award presented is inspired by six core principles of Ali’s life: confidence, conviction, dedication, giving, respect, and spirituality.
Recipients included former president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Jimmy Carter, who was presented with the Humanitarian Lifetime Achievement Award for being the first president to make human rights a central element of U.S. foreign policy.
Multi-Grammy award winner and multi-platinum recording artist Christina Aguilera received the Humanitarian of the Year Award for her role as global spokesperson for Yum! Brands World Hunger relief and her dedication to philanthropic causes. Aguilera has traveled to Guatemala, Haiti and Rwanda and has helped raise millions of dollars for the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and other hunger relief organizations. “With nearly 1 billion people going hungry each year,” she says, “I’m proud to use my voice to raise awareness and help feed hungry women and children around the world.”
Yum! Brands’ World Hunger Relief initiative is the largest private sector relief effort, which has raised nearly $150 million for the WFP and provided more than 600 million meals globally since 2007. Yum! Brands also made its own PSAs in addition to a variety of other activities to generate awareness about world hunger.
According to the WFP, they reach more than 90 million people with food assistance in 80 countries each year. The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that there are 842 million hungry people in the world (among which an estimated 146 million underweight children) and 98% are in developing countries. The good news is that since the early 90s, the number of hungry has fallen by 17%, but more has to be done to reach the first Millenium Development Goal of halving the proportion of hungry people in the world by 2015.
Six young adults and teenagers from around the world also received awards, including: Muhammed Kisirisa, a 25 year old Ugandan who formed an anti-poverty organization that promotes self-reliance and strives to empower people living in impoverished areas; and Nick Lowinger, a 15 year old from Providence, RI, who started the Gotta Have Sole Foundation, which has provided shoes to over 10,000 thousand homeless and disadvantaged children around the US.
– Rifk Ebeid