Padilla Introduces Bill to Award Muhammad Ali the Congressional Gold Medal

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As Black History Month comes to a close today, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) introduced legislation to award a posthumous Congressional Gold Medal, the nation’s highest civilian award, to American professional boxer and activist Muhammad Ali. The Muhammad Ali Congressional Gold Medal Act would honor the life, legacy, and accomplishments that made Ali one of the greatest athletes and public figures in American history. Representative André Carson (D-Ind.-07) is leading companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

Often referred to as “The Greatest,” Ali earned his title through his inspiring athletic achievements, dedication to ensuring that all Americans have equal rights, and advocacy for underserved communities around the world. Throughout his illustrious career, Ali won three world heavyweight boxing championships and a gold medal at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, amid many other accomplishments. His devotion to humanitarian causes and racial equality earned him many accolades, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, an Amnesty International Lifetime Achievement Award, torchbearer at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic games, and his selection as a “United Nations Messenger of Peace.”

“Muhammad Ali served as an example of strength, service, and dedication for all generations, from his boxing career as one of the most decorated athletes of all time to helping our nation overcome the legacy of Jim Crow and segregation in sports,” said Senator Padilla. “He left a lasting impact on the Los Angeles community and inspired generations of Americans to pursue their dreams. The Congressional Gold Medal is a fitting award for an American who devoted his life and career to uplifting underserved communities in the U.S. and abroad.”

Ali lived in Los Angeles for roughly seven years, and five of his professional fights were held in Southern California. Due to his courage and conviction, the 1987 California Bicentennial Foundation for the U.S. Constitution selected Ali to personify the vitality of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Ali worked tirelessly to support medical research and charitable organizations, including founding the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center and raising over $50 million for Parkinson’s research.

Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Laphonza Butler (D-Calif.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) are cosponsoring the bill.

Full text of the bill is available here.