Lonnie Ali speaks at Ali Center just before her husband's birthday celebration

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WHAS11.com

Posted on January 13, 2012 at 12:20 AM

Updated Friday, Jan 13 at 12:22 AM

Louisville, Ky. (WHAS11) - He is known simply as The Greatest. As one of Louisville's greatest natives, Muhammad Ali will celebrate his 70th birthday here in the Derby City this weekend.

 

Thursday, the champ's wife Lonnie spoke at Ali Center.

 

The saying goes behind every great man, there's a great woman. No truer words can be said about Muhammad Ali and his wife Lonnie.

 

"We just like being here. People treat us like we're normal, which is a good thing," said Lonnie Ali.

 

Those homegrown feelings are a big reason Muhammad Ali will celebrate his 70th birthday in Louisville Saturday.

 

"What's special about 70, this 70th birthday? asked Mike Colombo.

 

"I don't know. I haven't gotten there yet. Tell me! Muhammad thinks it's special because he gets a lot of parties, you know he's really happy about that!" added Ali.

 

Lonnie, a Louisville native herself, is a Mercy High grad. She and Muhammad have been married for 25 years. They met for the first time when she was just six years before Muhammad's first fight with Sonny Liston.

 

That meeting and many more stories from their life together were told to a crowd gathered Thursday night at the Ali Center.

 

"The aspects outside of boxing really hit me," said Paul McArdle who will attend Ali's birthday celebration.

 

An idol of Ali, Irishman Paul McArdle's only trips to the United States have involved Ali and the Ali Center. He's in town this weekend for Ali's birthday celebration.

 

"How does his legacy live on both with you and his fans throughout the world? asked Mike Colombo.

 

"The legacy will always live on in the museum here. It's the perfect example of that. I think he'll be remembered for years to come," said Paul McArdle.

 

In the museum that bears his name and chronicles his greatness, Ali will no doubt be the main event at his 70th birthday party.

 

"Reaching the age of 70 and still being recognized for his achievements inside and outside the ring is something very special. The culmination of his life and to be able to celebrate that here in Louisville on Saturday night is extremely special for him and to have his friends here is even more special," added Ali.

 

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