John Cena to receive the Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award

The West Newbury native said he was "truly thrilled."

WWE star John Cena at Wrestlemania XXVII news conference at the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Agostini, file)
John Cena. –AP Photo/Evan Agostini

Actor and WWE superstar John Cena will receive the Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award, the company announced Thursday.

The award is given yearly to an athlete or sports figure who “embodies the ideals of sportsmanship, leadership and philanthropy and has used sports as a platform to make the world a better place,” according to a press release. The magazine will highlight the Massachusetts native’s philanthropic endeavors in its Dec. 17 issue.

“I am truly thrilled to receive Sports Illustrated’s Muhammad Ali Legacy Award,” Cena said in the release. “Ali’s commitment to helping others, his dedication to his sport and his generous spirit are incomparable and he was a role model to us all. To be linked with him in any way is an honor that means so much to me.”

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Cena, of West Newbury, has continually broken his own record for the number of wishes granted through the Make-A-Wish foundation, becoming the first to grant 300, 500, and now nearly 600 wishes for children with life-threatening illnesses.

“From his unparalleled work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to his support for a wide range of causes ranging from activism for military families to cancer research, John has made personal outreach and generosity of time and spirit his calling cards,” said Sports Illustrated executive editor Stephen Cannella in the release. “He might just be the most charitable person in sports, and his dedication to philanthropy richly reflects the spirit of the Ali Legacy Award.”

Cena will be honored at the Sportsperson of the Year Awards show, which will air on Thursday, Dec. 13 on NBCSN.

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December 13, 2018 | 8:55 AM