John Cena to be honored with Muhammad Ali Legacy Award

Sports Illustrated announced Thursday that it would bestow WWE star John Cena with the Muhammad Ali Legacy Award next month in recognition of his philanthropy work.

While noting Cena’s success as a 16-time WWE champion, the publication emphasized his efforts with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, where he “has granted nearly 600 wishes for children with life-threatening illnesses, more than anyone else involved with the organization,” Sports Illustrated said.

They also acknowledged him as a supporter of breast cancer awareness and early detection.

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Following the announcement, Cena took to Twitter saying this was “something I never dreamed could be possible.”

“Thank you for this honor, I’ll do best to live up to its reputation,” he continued.

He also told Sports Illustrated that he was “truly thrilled” to be getting the award.

“Ali's commitment to helping others, his dedication to the sport and his generous spirit are incomparable and he was a role model to us all,” the wrestling star said. “To be linked with him in any way is an honor that means so much to me.”

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The honor, which was established in 2008 and renamed to honor Ali in 2015, is given each year to an athlete or sports figure who embodies the ideals of sportsmanship, leadership and philanthropy while using sports as a platform, according to The Associated Press.

Past recipients of the award, which is scheduled to be given to Cena at the Sportsperson of the Year ceremony on Dec. 11 in Los Angeles, include Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jack Nicklaus and Colin Kaepernick, Sports Illustrated said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.