Muhammad Ali celebrates 70th birthday with Las Vegas gala

Sat Feb 18, 2012 2:36pm EST

Boxing legend Muhammad Ali stands with his wife Yolanda as he is introduced before the welterweight fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr.  and Shane Mosley at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on May 1, 2010.  REUTERS/Steve Marcus

Boxing legend Muhammad Ali stands with his wife Yolanda as he is introduced before the welterweight fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Shane Mosley at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on May 1, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Steve Marcus

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(Reuters) - Muhammad Ali, the legendary prizefighter who turned 70 last month, will celebrate his birthday Saturday night with a big cast of pop stars and sports icons at a Las Vegas gala to raise money for the battle against neurological disorders.

About 2,000 people are expected to attend the $1,500-per-plate "Power of Love Gala," including singers Stevie Wonder and Snoop Dogg, soccer star David Beckham, and actors Samuel L. Jackson and Anthony Hopkins.

Ali suffers from Parkinsons' disease. The event will raise money for the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, which treats Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Multiple sclerosis and other disorders of memory, movement and mood, according to Megan F. Pruce, spokeswoman for the Cleveland Clinic. The event also will raise funds for the Muhammad Ali Center, a cultural and educational center in Louisville, Kentucky.

"His high profile is helping us to raise awareness for these important diseases that need more funding for treatment," said Pruce. The 16th annual gala usually is a celebrity-packed evening, but Pruce said she doesn't think it's ever had this kind of crowd. "It's taking it to the next level," she said.

She could not say how much money the event, which will include a live and silent auction, is projected to raise. The record for the gala has been $27 million.

Pruce said the gala will be a "Golden Globes" type event with performances and tributes to Ali, the former world heavyweight boxing champion who became famous not only because of his wins in the ring, but because of his personality and social activism.

The event will be broadcast on ABC as "Ali 70th From Las Vegas" on ABC Saturday, February 25 at 4 p.m. Eastern Time. It will re-air on ESPN2 later the same night at 10 p.m. Eastern Time.

(Reporting By Mary Wisniewski)

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