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Cheers for Ali at literary ceremony in New York

NEW YORK -- Muhammad Ali owned the night without saying a word.

The boxing great was the guest of honor Thursday night at the 4th annual Norman Mailer Center benefit gala. The ceremony benefited the Norman Mailer Writers Colony, named for the late author.

Ali was in attendance to watch the first ever presentation of the Muhammad Ali Ethics Award, a writing prize for college students. Introduced by emcee Alec Baldwin, Ali sat mute and expressionless in an armchair on a small, makeshift stage as the audience chanted “Ali! Ali! Ali!” He was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease nearly 30 years ago.

Among those receiving honorary awards from the Mailer center were historian Robert Caro and novelist Joyce Carol Oates. Despite his frail health, the 70-year-old Ali stayed until the end.

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