Photo EXCLUSIVE: Muhammad Ali Visits THE LION KING National Tour

Former three-time World Heavyweight Champion Muhammad Ali and his family attended the Friday, January 9th performance of Disney's THE LION KING at ASU Gammage Auditorium in Tempe, AZ. (Mr. Ali is a resident of Scottsdale, Arizona).

THE LION KING National Tour performs in Tempe through Sunday, February 8, 2009.

Boxer, born Cassius Marcellus Clay on January 17, 1942 in Louisville, Kentucky, USA. As an amateur boxer (1954-60), winning 100 of 108 matches, he became the 1960 Olympic light-heavyweight champion. Financed by a group of Louisville businessmen, he turned professional, and by 1963 had won his first 19 fights. He won the world heavyweight title in 1964, defeating the purportedly invincible Sonny Liston when he retired at the end of the sixth round.

At that time he joined the Black Muslims and adopted the name Muhammad Ali. After defending the championship nine times within two years, in 1967 he refused to be drafted into the army on religious grounds, and was stripped of his title and barred from the ring. Ali's action earned him both respect and anger from different quarters, but he did not box for three-and-a-half years; he took his case to the Supreme Court and had his boxing licence restored in 1970. In 1971 he was beaten by Joe Frazier, but beat him in 1974 in Zaire, and went on to meet George Foreman later that year, knocking him out in eight rounds to regain his title. He was beaten by Leon Spinks in a split decision (Feb 1978), but regained the title the same year - the first man to win the world heavyweight title three times. Since his retirement he has become one of the most beloved figures the world over.

Disney's The Lion King continues to reign as one of the most popular shows on Broadway and around the world. The Lion King has been seen by over 45 million people in 11 different countries, including cities such as Sydney, Osaka, Shanghai, Taipei, Johannesburg, Seoul, Mexico City and Honolulu. In addition to Broadway and a domestic national tour, The Lion King can currently be seen in London, Hamburg, Paris, Tokyo and Fukuoka. On May 2, 2009, a sit-down production of The Lion King will open at Mandalay Bay Theatre - the first ever full-length Disney Theatrical Production to be launched in Las Vegas.

Disney's The Lion King is currently playing at Broadway's Minskoff Theatre. The show officially opened at the New Amsterdam Theatre, its original home, on Thursday, November 13, 1997. Now in its 11th year, the global phenomenon is the winner of more than 70 major awards worldwide, including the 1998 Tony Award® and NY Drama Critics Award for Best Musical, the 1999 Grammy® for Best Musical Show Album, the 1999 Laurence Olivier Awards (UK) for Best Choreography and Best Costume Design and three Moliere Awards (France) including musical, lighting design and costume design.

For information on The Lion King please visit, www.disney.go.com.

Muhammad Ali Bio Courtesy of Biography.com

Photo Credit: Tim Trumble/ASU Gammage.

Photo EXCLUSIVE: Muhammad Ali Visits THE LION KING National Tour
Phindile Mkhize (Rafiki), Muhammad Ali, Dionne Randolph (Mufasa), and Timothy Carter (Scar)

Photo EXCLUSIVE: Muhammad Ali Visits THE LION KING National Tour
Chaz Marcus Fleming (Young Simba), Muhammad Ali and Marquis Kofi Rodriguez (Young Simba)

Photo EXCLUSIVE: Muhammad Ali Visits THE LION KING National Tour
Muhammad Ali, Ah-Niyah Neal (Young Nala) and Sade LouAnn Murray (Young Nala)

Photo EXCLUSIVE: Muhammad Ali Visits THE LION KING National Tour
Muhammad Ali and the cast of Disney's The Lion King National Tour.

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