AIBA World Boxing Championships Chicago 2007 Opening Ceremony

Blends City’s Passion for Sport and Celebration of Excellence

Surprise Guest Muhammad Ali Inspires Athletes, Captures Spirit of Event

CHICAGO (October 22, 2007) – The AIBA World Boxing Championships Chicago 2007 proudly kicked-off this afternoon at the Chicago Theatre.

Closing historic State Street for an athlete procession to the ceremony, thousands of Chicagoans warmly embraced nearly 700 boxers from approximately 120 countries who have come to Chicago looking for the chance to qualify for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

The eleven-day event, which will be the largest world boxing championships in history, will take place from October 23 – November 3 at the University of Illinois-Chicago Pavilion.

“The Opening Ceremony captured how truly honored we feel to host these premier competitors from all across the world and celebrate their accomplishments,” said Jack Sandner, chairman of the Local Organizing Committee for the AIBA World Boxing Championships Chicago 2007.

Surprise guest-of-honor, Muhammad Ali, brought fans to their feet as he graced the Opening Ceremony with his presence. More than 40 years after he wowed the world with his gold medal performance at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, Italy, Ali’s presence gave the world-class competitors at tonight’s ceremony a glimpse of what greatness can create.

“Muhammad Ali personifies the values that the Olympic Movement stands for; commitment, excellence and a devotion to making the world a better place,” said Sandner. “We could not be more pleased that he took the time to share some of his magic with those attending and competing at the AIBA World Boxing Championships Chicago 2007.”

The top eight finishers in nine of the 11 weight classes and the top four in the heavy and super heavyweight divisions in Chicago will earn a spot at the 2008 Olympic Games.

The field is loaded with 27 World Championship medal winners from the 2005 AIBA World Championships in Mianyang City, China, expected to compete.

Also, competing are eight Olympic medalists from the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, including gold medalists Manus Boomjumnong of Thailand and Alexey Tishchenko of Russia.

The AIBA World Boxing Championships are held every two years.

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