On Saturday, March 23, 2013 stars and athletes from around the country converged on the J.W. Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa in Phoenix, Arizona for Muhammad Ali’s Celebrity Fight Night XIX. The evening opened with the singing of the National Anthem by the Phoenix Boys Choir in which a rare Bald Eagle was released into the room. GRAMMY Award winning leading lady of country music Reba McEntirereturned for her eighth year as emcee, kicking off the night by introducing a special performance by Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers. With Muhammad Ali on stage, international superstar Jennifer Lopez, actor and musician Steve Martin, and philanthropist and owner of the Washington Companies Dennis Washington, were honored with the 2013 Muhammad Ali Celebrity Fight Night Awards. The awards portion of the evening concluded with a special video tribute to Muhammad and Lonnie Ali from legendary musician Paul McCartney.
Following the awards guests were treated to a host of performances under the direction of the multiple GRAMMY® Award-winning songwriter and producer David Foster, who returned for his 14th consecutive year as the evening’s Musical Director. Performers included Billy Ray Cyrus who sang “Hillbilly Heart,” “Achy Breaky Heart,” and “Johnny B. Goode,” along with American Idol finalist Haley Reinhart who sang her rendition of “Bennie and The Jets.” Actress and musician Rita Wilson returned to the Celebrity Fight Night stage to perform “Personally,” followed by the winner of The X Factor, Tate Stevens, who sang “I Got This,” and “Power of a Love Song” for the crowd. Andrea Bocelli gave an unforgettable performance including songs “Ave Maria,” “Funiculì, Funiculà,” Elvis Presley’s “Love Me Tender,” “O sole mio,” “Con Te Partirò,” and a special duet of “Quizás Quizás Quizás” with Jennifer Lopez, marking the first time the duo have ever performed together. Jennifer Lopez closed out the evening with incredible performances of “Get Right,” “Love Don’t Cost a Thing,” “Club Tropicana,” “Let’s Get Loud” and “On the Floor.”
The black tie event also featured cocktails, a silent auction, an elegant dinner and an exciting live auction featuring one-of-a-kind luxury items. The live auction featured a dinner with Reba McEntire at her Beverly Hills, CA home, with special guests Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson and David Foster, which went for a total of $800,000 – two bidders paying $400,000 each. Tom Hanks also threw in two tickets to his upcoming Broadway show “Lucky Guy” plus a backstage meet and greet via phone to seal the bids. Also included in the auction was a week long trip to Tuscany plus a special VIP performance by Andrea Bocelli followed by a private dinner with the musician himself, which sold for $550,000. Celebrity Fight Night XIX raised a total of $7.2 million benefiting the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, as well as numerous other charities. Each year dozens of celebrity guests attend the event that has raised $87 million dollars in 19 years.
Additional celebrity guests included Billy Crystal, Yank Barry, Jerry Colangelo, Bo Derek, Keith Harkin, Evander Holyfield, Mannie Jackson, Michael Johns, Nancy Lieberman, Mario Lopez, Nick Lowery, Harvey Mackay, Joe Manganiello, Sam Moore, Frankie Muniz, Lute Olson, Chris Rich, Ralph Sampson, Kevin Sorbo, Verne Troyer, Kenny Williams and many more.