Busy Inauguration Eve In Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON (AP) - "The Greatest" saluted the nation's first
black president at an inaugural soiree Monday night.
Boxing legend Muhammad Ali, celebrating his 67th birthday, was
the guest of honor at a party for 1,400 that included other
celebrities, lawmakers and native Kentuckians.
Ali will be sitting on the platform Tuesday when Barack Obama is
sworn in as the nation's first black president. And when that
happens, Ali's wife predicts, a torch will have been passed.
"He wouldn't have missed this for the world," Lonnie Ali said
after Monday night's Bluegrass Ball, a celebration of her husband's
67th birthday. Kentucky is the family's home state.
Muhammad Ali carried the dreams of a generation during his prime
as an athlete, and later as a humanitarian.
"What's interesting is that Muhammad had time to grow into his
role as being a world humanitarian," Lonnie Ali said. Obama on the
other hand "will inherit the world on his shoulders, not just the
U.S. And it is a much heavier burden than I think Muhammad had to
"But I think (Obama's) his shoulders are broad," she added.
"He and Muhammad are really made of the same fabric."
Ali, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, was the guest of
honor at the Bluegrass ball, which hosted 1,400 people and was
studded with other celebrities as well.
Native Kentuckian and actress Ashley Judd and artist Simon Bull
unveiled a birthday gift to Ali - a pair of portraits of the boxer
and Obama.
The two appear in the painting depicting a close-up of Obama's
face looking off into the distance. Within the boundaries of the
new president's visage is a depiction of Ali as a boxer gazing over
a fallen opponent - signifying a debt that Obama owes Ali and his
fighting spirit, according to a release by the Muhammad Ali Center,
which commissioned the portraits.
"You've got Barack Obama, who's the leader of the greatest
nation on earth, and Muhammad Ali, who's the greatest of all
time," mused Steve Buttleman, official bugler of Churchill Downs.
"How appropriate is that? It's so fitting."
There was agreement from the mistress of ceremonies, former
Kentucky first lady Phyllis George:
"The seriousness of what they've both done in their lives and
how they've both brought people together, I'm just very proud to be
a part of it," George said.
There's one thing that Obama holds over Ali, though, Lonnie Ali
said. Obama's now probably more recognizable to more people around
the world.
"I do believe you've been surpassed," Lonnie Ali said she told
her husband.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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  • by Jeb Location: Ky on Jan 21, 2009 at 06:53 PM
    To set the record straight...if Barak Obama were to walk in a bank and rob it today and you saw him do it, what description would you give to the police? You would not say a "bi-racial" man just robbed the bank, you would say a BLACK man robbed the bank. I didn't vote for him but my God people, just by plain looks alone I would say he is black. Now, forget the colors and let us see what he does. If he fails, we are doomed. If he succeeds, some of us will have to swallow our pride and accept it.
  • by Hey Ray on Jan 21, 2009 at 04:23 PM
    If you check accurate reports, former Pres. George Bush spent just as much as Obama. GWB figures reported did not consider security costs in original reporting, but Obama's figures do include security costs.
  • by Cole Location: Jackson on Jan 21, 2009 at 08:55 AM
    Folks are going on Federal Law that states that if you have African American blood then you are African American. I agree, He is bi-racial and neither black or white and he even states that. I did not vote for him but wish him well because as a Former Marine I will support the President until he gives me a reason not to.
  • by Bill Location: Ea KY on Jan 20, 2009 at 07:15 PM
    It's sad that so many small minded and mean spirited people can't embrace this great moment in our national journey.
  • by Zatoichi Location: Richmond on Jan 20, 2009 at 02:59 PM
    Hmmmm..Ali and Obama made from the same Islamic fabric?
  • by Joey Location: Lex on Jan 20, 2009 at 07:09 AM
    If the economy is sooooo bad, how in the world are all these people affording the trip to DC? Priorities askew? You bet! I have nothing at all against Obama, but I have a large disdain for the media who have given him a free pass. Bush won twice...why? Because the Dems had NOBODY worth electing. They (the media) created a candidate with Obama. His experience is minimal at best, but the media created a love fest for him by NOT reporting everything. I hope he does well but I will sit back and laugh if he doesn't and point my finger to the media and all the others who jumped on the bandwagon and say "I told you so!"
  • by Goebel Location: Lexington on Jan 20, 2009 at 06:16 AM
    How can Obama be the first black president when he is biracial?
  • by Fred Location: Lexington on Jan 20, 2009 at 05:59 AM
    That's part of the "change" America voted for, Ray... :)
  • by Reality Location: Kentucky on Jan 19, 2009 at 05:10 PM
    I thought most people in US were starving and either homeless or near homeless?
  • by GAYLE Location: Nicholasville on Jan 19, 2009 at 01:55 PM
    It is so wonderful to see all of America this excited over an inauguration. I remember this excitement when John Kennedy was inaugurated when I was in high school. I feel so lucky to experience this "high" twice in my lifetime.
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