Lonnie Ali '86

2015 John E. Anderson Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

Lonnie Ali '86
Vice Chairman
The Muhammad Ali Center Board

Lonnie Ali '86

Lonnie Ali '86

Lonnie Ali, a native of Louisville, Kentucky completed her B.A. degree at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee in 1978. After graduation and a brief stint as an Employment Counselor for the State of Kentucky, Lonnie began her business career in account sales with Kraft Foods, Inc. She continued her business studies at UCLA's Graduate School of Management (now the UCLA  Anderson School of Management) where she received an MBA in 1986 with an emphasis in Marketing.

After her marriage to Muhammad Ali in November 1986, she assumed responsibility for the coordination and eventual management of his business affairs. In September of 1992, Lonnie formally incorporated Greatest of All Time, Inc. (G.O.A.T. Inc.) to centralize and license her husband’s intellectual properties for commercial purposes. She served as Vice President and Treasurer of G.O.A.T., Inc. from 1992 until the sale of the company in April 2006. During her tenure as Vice President, Lonnie managed the daily operations of the company while accompanying her husband on domestic and international business trips.  

While actively managing G.O.A.T., Lonnie partnered with her husband on many humanitarian initiatives around the world, including missions to the Sudan, Uganda, India, Pakistan, the Khyber Pass and Cuba. Domestically, Lonnie has supported, accompanied and spoken at numerous charitable organizations on her husband's behalf, including UNICEF, Special Olympics, Best Buddies, Athletes for Hope, The Lou Ruvo Foundation, Celebrity Fight Night Foundation, Project ALS, Birch Family Services, The Starkey Hearing Foundation, The Magic Johnson Foundation and the Cal Ripkin, Sr. Foundation.

Always an advocate for enhancing educational opportunities for youth, the Alis partnered with Scholastic in 2006 to develop the Muhammad Ali: GO THE DISTANCE reading program. The program provided teachers in grades 3-8 with a researched based curriculum along with instructional practices to motivate learning and improve comprehension in students who struggled academically. As part of the program, Lonnie spoke to groups of students at schools throughout the U.S. about her husband’s dyslexia and how he overcame his fear of reading to become a World Heavyweight Boxing Champion and American Icon.

In 1997, Lonnie and Muhammad helped launch the Muhammad Ali Parkinson’s Center (MAPC) in Phoenix, Arizona. MAPC is dedicated to the comprehensive care and support of Parkinson patients and their families regardless of their ability to afford treatment or other resources.  In 2009, the Muhammad and Lonnie Ali Pavilion was unveiled which houses the newly built Muhammad Ali Parkinson’s Center at Barrow Neurological Institute.

Lonnie and her husband opened the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky in November of 2005 and serve as Lifetime Directors. The Ali Center is a multicultural center with an award winning museum dedicated to Muhammad’s life and legacy. Its educational initiatives focus on promoting respect, hope and understanding; and inspiring people around the globe to be as great as they can be. Lonnie also serves as Vice Chair of the Muhammad Ali Center Board.

After the sale of G.O.A.T., Lonnie was asked to serve on the management board of the newly formed company, Muhammad Ali Enterprises.  Lonnie also remained active in various charitable causes including being an advocate for children’s rights and Parkinson’s Disease research. She served on the Board of Directors of the Michael J. Fox Foundation and partnered with a major pharmaceutical company to launch a national campaign in support of Parkinson’s caregivers. She has been a frequent guest speaker at Parkinson Disease support groups and research gatherings. From 2010 to 2013, Lonnie served on the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues and continues to serve on the Michael J. Fox Foundation Founder’s Council and the Board of the Emory Neurosciences Community Advisory Board.

Lonnie was the 2010 recipient of AARP’s Inspire Award for her advocacy work for Parkinson’s research, patients and caregivers. In 2012 she was named one of Arizona’s 48 Most Intriguing Women as part of the state’s centennial celebration. The National Consortium for Academics and Sports inducted Lonnie into their Hall of Fame in 2013.  Recently, in 2014, she was honored by The Foundation of Wesley Woods with the Key to a Cure Award which recognized her efforts to raise awareness and funding for Parkinson’s research. She has also been honored by the HollyRod Foundation and Child Help.

A proud mother and stepmother, Lonnie lives in Paradise Valley, Arizona with her husband.