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Brian Bohannon, Associated Press
A detail of the tiles making up a global collection of children's artwork inspired by Ali displayed on a 55-foot-long Hope and Dream wall, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012 at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Ky. Visitors to the Muhammad Ali Center see the three-time world heavyweight champion in his prime, railing against war and racial inequity and delivering knockout punches in the ring. They also see the softer side of a man embracing ideals of respect and spiritual growth.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Muhammad Ali's fists made him famous, but his plight as a social activist was perhaps his biggest fight.

The Muhammad Ali Center in his hometown of Louisville is seen as a lasting legacy to the three-time world heavyweight champion.

Exhibits show Ali railing against war, segregation and poverty. Visitors also see the softer side of a man embracing ideals of respect and spiritual growth.

On Saturday, the 6-year-old center will be in the limelight when Ali is surrounded by friends for a private party celebrating his 70th birthday. The party will double as a $1,000-per-person fundraiser for Ali's beloved center.

Ali, who is battling Parkinson's disease, turns 70 on Tuesday.