The VIPP Report: Remembering Muhammad Ali on what would have been his 79th birthday

For the FIRST time, his life-long caregiver sits down with me for more than a hour telling me things so many people have no idea about the ‘Greatest of All Time’. This is just a small portion of my interview that I wanted to share.


Special Report by Sherlene Shanklin, WHAS11, ABC Louisville

Muhammad Ali and Sherlene Shanklin at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, KY.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — On Sunday, Muhammad Ali would have been 79. 

On June 3rd, 2016 Ali passed away and thousands lined the streets of Louisville to thank the champ who was not only a boxing champion but an activist and philanthropist respected by many across the world.

For the first time, in an exclusive interview, WHAS11 talked to the person who was his childhood friend, caregiver and sister-in-law. You saw her in many photos over the years. 

Now, Whas11’s Sherlene Shanklin tells you her story of the Champ you didn’t know.

Marilyn Williams says “Muhammad’s mother Odessa Clay and my mother Marguerite Williams were best friends.”

Their families were very close. As a child, she looked up to him as a big brother having no idea that years later she would call him her brother-in-law.

‘Lonnie Ali is my big sister,” Williams said.

Prior to working with family, she was a successful entrepreneur owning her own salon and then worked at the Ford Plant right here in Louisville.

So, when Lonnie was looking for someone to help with their business affairs and later assist Ali and with his Parkinson’s diagnosis, Marilyn was the perfect choice to be his caregiver while some even thought she was their bodyguard.

“I was his security because if you got close to Muhammad you were in trouble if you weren’t supposed to be there,” said Williams.

She talked to me about being a caregiver for Ali. “I knew I had to do the best I could do. I had to be the best. I had to be on it. I knew this man. I knew him ever since I was a child so I had to be on it.”

People always asked, could he speak after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s? Williams said, “Muhammad could smile, stars eyes would just sparkle and he talked a lot with his eyes, he talked with his voice, his hands. He definitely got his message across.”

Anytime ‘the Champ’ could get home he did and Marilyn shared this fond memory.

“Muhammad loved Louisville. You say Louisville if I was working and I said I was going on vacation. Where are you going? I said I’m going to Louisville. I wanna go.”

Williams showing me a piece of art that Ali created.

I also asked Williams could she tell me something about Ali people didn’t know. She sighs before answering–“Muhammad and Lonnie will say this too. He had a kind and loving heart. He saw nothing wrong with no one. He would be with kings and queens, presidents and then turn around and be with the poorest person on this earth or the sickest person on this earth. It didn’t matter to him. He loved all.”

To see everything happening in Louisville sometimes even along the street that bears his name and across the country how does that make you feel?

“Well I can’t actually speak for Muhammad because he can speak for himself but a few things he taught me and that was respect for all mankind. One thing I asked him, I was always asking him questions when I was younger growing up and he told me that there’s good and bad in every race and every religion. There’s good and bad,” Williams said.

The final question of the interview I had to ask what she misses the most about the GOAT?

With tears in her eyes, she responded by saying “His eyes, his kindness, his spirit, his spirit was so beautiful. To be around him he gave you energy. Even if there was a gray day outside he made the sunshine.”

I had to use the video one more time of Louisville’s own, the man who had no problem telling you “I’m still the greatest!!!”

Here’s the link to the story. ->

Contact Sherlene Shanklin at or follow me on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram.

Sherlene Shanklin is an EMMY Award winning journalist. Two-time Society of Professional Journalists, (SPJ) winner for sports writing and best use of social media. Multiple award winner for the Associated Press. Career spans nearly 30 years with an emphasis but not limited to news in Kentucky and Southern Indiana.

The VIPP Report: One of the world’s top African American sculptors is honored by his hometown

Ed Hamilton named Louisvillian of the Year

(Louisville, KY) You’ve seen his works from The Amistad, Muhammad Ali’s steel boxing gloves both in Louisville, The African American Civil War Memorial, ‘Spirit of Freedom’ in Washington to the Unfinished March of the late Dr. Martin Luther King in Newport News.  Now, the American Advertising Federation of Louisville announces that Ed Hamilton will receive the “Louisvillian of the Year” award. 

Hamilton is receiving the award for his outstanding achievement and generous personal contributions in the areas of civic, educational and business.  The sculptor only needed to possess only one of the three, but this talented humanitarian is a true community ambassador who works tirelessly who in turn is an inspiration to so many within Louisville and communities around the U.S. The national acclaimed sculptor gives his time and talents.

Ed Hamilton says “As a citizen of Louisville, KY, I’m proud and honored to have been chosen as the recipient of the 2020 Louisvillian of the Year award.  I know I owe my success to many who saw my talent during the early years of my artistic journey.

It is in the spirit of family, parents that adopted me and are now deceased, Edward Norton and Amy Jane Camp Hamilton.   They raised me to have respect for all people, the value of hard work and development of moral values.  This enabled me to extend myself into the Louisville community. 

To the love of my life and soul mate of 54 years of marriage, Bernadette, I seriously believe if not for her love and support, I would not be the man, the father, or the artist that I am today.  How lucky I am to be alive today.

I extend blessings to all past recipients and indeed I’m in good company.”

Other works Hamilton has designed is the 16th President of the United States and Kentucky native Abraham Lincoln with the Lincoln Memorial which is located along the Ohio River in downtown Louisville. He’s known for but not limited to is The Booker T. Washington Memorial in Hampton, VA, Joe Louis Memorial in Detroit, MI, and the Amistad Memorial in New Haven, CT just to name a few of the many works you can visit around the U.S. 

To learn more about Ed Hamilton and his works contact, Sherlene Shanklin with VIPP Communications for appearance and speaking engagement availability at


VIPP Communications is a full service public relations, event management and production firm headquartered in Louisville, KY with clients and/or projects all over the U.S. We can create, maintain and sustain your brand.  Our clientele range from small businesses, non-profits, corporate leaders, entertainment to current and retired professional athletes.  Contact one of our team members to see if we can assist you at info at vippcommunications dot com.

The VIPP Report: TheSlice, a signature Kentucky Derby Festival event in West Louisville will remember the “Greatest of All Time”


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(Louisville, KY) When you think of the Kentucky Derby you think of food, bourbon, horses and parties.  Well, TheSlice Charities of Louisville, the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage and PNC Bank proudly present TheSlice @KCAAH.  TheSlice-Spice, Style & Soul on Saturday, April 29th from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.  This year’s theme: A Salute to Muhammad Ali: A Life of Inspiration.  The event will be held at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage, located in the heart of West Louisville at 1701 West Muhammad Ali Blvd named after the Greatest of All Time, Muhammad Ali.

For the first time, guests will get to see an exhibit of the late heavy weight champion.  Ali died on June 3, 2016 and the world turned to Louisville, KY as his family, friends and fans sent him off in a champions way.  Throughout the venue you will see a special collection. In the historical procession of Ali through the streets of Louisville the champ did pass KCAAH and the staff thought it was appropriate to have debut his photo exhibit at TheSlice.

“We are excited to have one of Ali’s family members as a special guest”, said Hosea Mitchell, KCAAH’s Chief Operating Officer.  Ibn Ali, son of Rahmaan Ali and nephew of Muhammad.  Ibn is excited and honored to attend TheSlice on behalf of his family. He’s started a program at the Jewish Community Center in Louisville around June.  Additional details will provide in the coming weeks.

TheSlice is the only West Louisville event sanctioned by Kentucky Derby Festival.  Chefs, caterers and restaurants from all over the city will give guests a sample of their cuisine.  Guests walk around the venue and visit food stations and sample their signature dishes. Throughout the evening, guests will enjoy music provided by The Unlimited Band.

Tickets are $65.00 in advance and $75.00 day of event at the venue.  This event is for people 21 years old and up. This is an upscale event where after five attire is suggested.  You can purchase tickets at St. Augustine Church at (502) 584-4602; Better Days Records in The Lyles Mall, JAM BUSTERS at 4906 Popular Level Road in Newburg and KCAAH, 1701 W. Muhmmad Ali Blvd.

If you would like to setup an interview with Hosea Mitchell please contact VIPP Communications at 502-582-7716 or by email at

TheSlice-Spice, Style & Soul started in April 2002 as a modest festival featuring fantastic food and live jazz, blues and R & B music in a unique and elegant atmosphere to welcome in the Derby season in West Louisville.  Today, the annual signature fundraiser of The Slice Charities of Louisville, Inc. is touted as one of Metro Louisville’s most outstanding official Kentucky Derby Festival Events.


 The Slice Charities of Louisville, Inc. is an independent, inner-city focused, public charity that raises funds and makes grant awards to support the ever increasingly crucial “safety net” that today exist only because of the compassionate efforts of the nonprofit social service organizations serving West Louisville and Portland which provide: emergency food, prescription drugs, housing and utility assistance, and after-school programs.



The VIPP Report: Muhammad Ali’s legacy lives on with the next generation

Special by Sherlene Shanklin, WHAS11 Television, ABC, Louisville

Muhammad Ali would have been 75 years old on January 17th, but his influence lives on.  I’ve been in contact with a Louisville entrepreneur.  He’s had a busy week from making sure the pipes in his business were functional, a Stop the Violence Initiative held on Ali’s birthday to his wife having a baby.  Darnell “SuperChef” Ferguson spent the day with his wife Tatahda in an area hospital. Their bundle of joy arrived weighing in at  6 lbs. and 13 oz. and 19 inches long.

Did I mention his name, well its Legend Ali Ferguson.  You got it! Named after the “Greatest of All Time”.

Follow me on  Twitter @Sherlenemediapr and Instagram @sherlenemediapro.


The VIPP Report: Remembering Muhammad Ali




(Louisville, KY) On June 3rd, Louisville native Muhammad Ali died at the age of 74 years of age in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Greatest of All Time, (GOAT) had a champion’s sendoff in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.  On Friday, June 10th, streets throughout the city were blocked off so his 17-car processional could take his final journey to his resting place at Cave Hill Cemetery.

The processional led by family owned A.D. Porter and Sons Funeral Home owned by African-Americans has served the community for more than 100 years.  They traveled down Old Walnut Street, known today as Muhammad Ali Blvd one last time.  Stopping by landmarks and things important to Ali and his family.

When they passed 17th and Muhammad Ali they approached the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage where Aukram Burton, Executive Director for KCAAH captured these breath-taking and historical photos as hundreds stood at that route to say goodbye to Ali.

We invite you to use the photo with the courtesy of Aukram Burton, KCAAH.  If you use the photos, please let us know so we can share with others.

For additional information about the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage by calling 502-583-4100.

To do a story and/or obtain quotes from member of the KCAAH executive staff, please contact Sherlene Shanklin, VIPP Communications at Follow us on Twitter @thevippreport @vippcomm.


The Kentucky Center for African American Heritage is the result of a collection of African American educators, artists and historians who have collaborated to give the long dormant history of African Americans in the region the voice and platform it deserves. This group evolved from the Louisville and Jefferson County African American Heritage Committee into its current mold, with a single unifying goal of promoting the Kentuckiana region’s black heritage.





The VIPP Report: Muhammad Ali leaving no stone unturned


Courtesy: Muhammad Ali Center

As the sun goes down and I begin to prepare for the processional, funeral and memorial service of Muhammad Ali there’s a lot of emotions going through my mind.  Visualizing the brief stop on Interstate 64 right by the Muhammad Ali Center, going down Broadway where he would run to train to seeing the red rose pedals as his hearse arrives at Cave Hill Cemetery.
I made many calls inquiring stories about the Louisville native but I also took a lot of calls and emails from those who wanted to share their stories about the “GREATEST”.  Many of you have guided me and led me from one interview after another.
Growing up in West Louisville right in the community where a legendary boxer worked and trained is significant in so many ways.  The predominantly African-American community is rich in history and tradition.  I grew up on Cecil Avenue.  Its been in the headlines more than I can count these days but that street when I was growing up generated a teacher that children loved, a prominent minister, a current president of a great non-profit organization and a senator.
Ali’s street was the same.  He had teachers, entrepreneurs, physicians, and hardworking people wanting better for their families and especially their children.  Many families had no problem working 12 hours a day to see their child get into college.  Did you know that Ali had honorary degrees from Kentucky State University and the University of Louisville.
Many of the things Ali did he did out of love and not publicity.  There’s people in communities across this world that have the same sense of responsibility.
Friday, June 10, 2016 will be a day for mourners but also a day of celebration because his legacy will live on in the thumbprint he leaves behind.  The reason why I said thumbprint instead of footprints.  The champ left his thumbprint so that future awards in his honor will have his seal of approval leaving no stone unturned.
You can follow me on Twitter at @Sherlenemediapr and Instagram @Sherlenemediapro.


Muhammad Ali and Sherlene Shanklin at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, KY.

The VIPP Report: Remembering Louisville’s own Muhammad Ali


Courtesy: Muhammad Ali Center

Special Report by Sherlene Shanklin, WHAS11 Television, ABC Louisville

On Friday, June3,  the “Greatest Of All Time” has passed away.  Muhammad Ali died surrounded by family and loved ones in Arizona.  The Louisville, Ky. native born Cassius Marcellus Clay to Cassius Sr. and Odessa Clay on January 17, 1942.  Ali was the father of nine children, seven daughters and two sons.

To date Ali remains the only three-time lineal World Heavyweight Champion.  He won the title in 1964, 1974, and 1978.

Growing up as a young girl in the same city, I would see Ali on various occasions but when I close my eyes I can vividly see him running down Broadway with his brother by his side.  Muhammad and Rahman would run and shadowbox. He would be showing off and many times slowing and/or stopping traffic.  As a young girl, I used to say “What in the world is he doing?”  Not knowing he was preparing himself to be one of the most influential people in the world.  I was familiar with boxing because it was extremely popular then. I even had Greg Page and one of his trainers Leroy Edmerson as members of my church.

In hindsight, we take those moments for granted.

Another special moment is when I ran into Ali on Fourth Street in 1986. He was sitting in the back of a box truck signing autographs in front of the Galleria which is known today as Fourth Street Live.  He gave me and my mom an “Introduction to Islam” book.  I remembered he laughed about our names because they were so similar (Shirley and Sherlene).  He turned to me and said ‘how you spell that’ in his larger than life voice.

I’ve been following the household name pretty much all of my adult life.  It was only an added bonus when I had the ability to cover events and stories involving the man who had no problem telling you “I’m so pretty,” “I’m the greatest,” and “The champ is here.”  He gave hope to those that saw no hope and a voice to many who couldn’t speak for themselves.

To Louisville who has a street named in his honor, he was hometown, but to the world he was the man who floated like a butterfly and could sting like a bee. He was “The Greatest”.

Muhammad Ali died at the age of 74 leaving his wife Lonnie Ali of almost 30 years and nine children and grandchildren.

If you have a story and/or photo you would like to share send it to me  You can follow me on Twitter @Sherlenemediapr and Instagram @Sherlenemediapro for additional information and stories I gather in the coming days.

The VIPP Report is a blog created by Shanklin.  If you have a story idea send it to  You can follow us on Twitter @thevippreport @vippcomm @Sherlenemediapr.  


Muhammad Ali and Sherlene Shanklin at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, KY.

Here’s the official link to the story.


The VIPP Report: Muhammad Ali’s childhood home broken into before the first tour even takes place


The surveillance camera at the childhood home of Muhammad Ali in Louisville, KY captures this person entering the home and stealing the air conditioner.

Special report from Sherlene Shanklin, WHAS11 Television ABC, Louisville

The childhood home of Louisville native Muhammad Ali is near completion but now its missing an air conditioner unit thanks to a theft.  The home on Grand Ave in West Louisville was renovated to resemble of the home in which the Clay family lived in prior to Ali’s successful boxing career and humanitarian efforts throughout the world.

The owners of the Muhammad Ali Home Museum tell me that they are offering a $500 reward and released some photos and video of the theft.

If you have any information you are asked to call 574-LMPD.

The home is scheduled for public tours in May 2016.

If you have a Muhammad Ali story and/or photos you would lie to share send it to  You can also follow me on Twitter @Sherlenemediapr and Instagram @Sherlenemediapro for real-time news.

Here’s the link to the WHAS11 news story:
If you have a story idea send it to  You can follow us on Twitter @thevippreport @vippcomm.  

Ali's childhoodhome

This is the childhood home of Muhammad Ali in Louisville, KY in its original state prior to the major renovation. Courtesy: Sherlene Shanklin


The VIPP Report: Muhammad Ali’s childhood home ready for tours

Special from Sherlene Shanklin, WHAS11 Television, ABC, Louisville, KY

Ali's childhoodhome

Work is almost complete on the childhood home of Cassius Clay aka Muhammad Ali.  The Louisville native’s home located at 33rd and Grand Avenue has been restored to when the “Greatest” and his family lived in the West Louisville home.

The restoration is now complete and the only thing to do is move in the furniture says Rev. Charles Elliott, founder of Jesus and a Job.  They help restore the Clay home.  This will be all completed in time for the public dedication on Sunday, May 1st, which is just days prior to the Kentucky Derby.  Fans visiting Louisville will have another place to visit while in town.

I’m awaiting official notification on the cost of the tour but as soon as I get it I will file another report.

If you have a story idea, send it to me at .  you can also follow me on Twitter for the latest in community and entertainment news at @Sherlenemediapr.

If you have a story idea send it to  Follow us on Twitter @vippcomm.


The VIPP Report: Ali’s family releases a photo of the “Greatest” as part of No Shave November

Muhammad Ali's family release this photo of the champ

Muhammad Ali’s family release this photo of the champ

Special from Sherlene Shanklin, WHAS11 Television/ABC Louisville

Today, a photo of boxing legend Muhammad Ali popped up on his official Twitter page this morning.  It came just days after alleged reports of the Louisville native’s health.  International and national media outlets were reporting that “The Greatest” health was deteriorating.  The report came from a former business manager that has not seen Ali for two years according to Ali’s spokesman.  Last week, Ali went to a NBA in Phoenix to watch several players with Kentucky connections.

Then today, a photo of unshaven Ali was trending at one point.  The photo was posted by his wife Lonnie in support of No Shave November.

If you have an unique story you would like to send me about Muhammad Ali, send it to  You can follow me on Twitter @Sherlenemediapr and Instagram Sherlenemediapro.

The VIPP Report: Sherlene Shanklin gets answers on the health of boxing legend Muhammad Ali

Courtesy: Muhammad Ali Center

Courtesy: Muhammad Ali Center

Special report by Sherlene Shanklin, WHAS11 Television/ABC Louisville

We’re getting word  that former boxing heavyweight champ Muhammad Ali is doing just fine tonight. Ali family spokesman Bob Gunnell tells me, reports that Ali’s health is deteriorating are not true.

Gunnell says the champ spent last night taking in an NBA game in Phoenix, cheering on NBA players with roots in Kentucky.

Gunnell  says Ali is doing well.

If you have a story idea, send it to me at  You can follow me on Twitter @Sherlenemediapr and Instagram Sherlenemediapro.

The VIPP Report: The “Greatest” Muhammad Ali is back in his hometown to honor some special people during his annual Ali Humanitarian Awards

Courtesy: Muhammad Ali Center

Courtesy: Muhammad Ali Center

Special report from Sherlene Shanklin, WHAS11 Television, ABC Louisville

We are just a few days away from the Third Annual Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards.  It was created to celebrate the greatness of people from around the world who are making difference in their communities and beyond. The third event will be held at the Louisville Marriott Downtown this Saturday evening, September 19th at 6:30 p.m.

The fundraising gala honors individuals’ significant contributions around the world toward the attainment of peace, social justice, or other positive actions pertaining to human or social capital. The Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to the multi-talented artist and social justice activist Harry Belafonte. Academy Award winning actress, humanitarian and women’s advocate Geena Davis will be honored as the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian of the Year.  Dr. Andrew Moore from Lexington, Kentucky, who founded Surgery on Sunday, will be named the 2015 Kentucky Muhammad Ali Humanitarian of the Year and Rose Mapendo will be honored with the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award for Gender Equality.

There’s also be six people under the age of 30 who will be honored with an award for each of Muhammad’s Six Core Principles: Confidence, Conviction, Dedication, Giving, Respect and Spirituality.

Four-time Olympic Gold Medalist Janet Evans will be the emcee and host for the evening.  In 1996, Evans was the Olympic Torchbearer in Atlanta that passed the torch to Ali at the Opening Ceremonies.

Some of this year’s presenters will be:

Lonnie Ali, along with her husband, is a Vice Chair of the Muhammad Ali Center

Donald Lassere, President and CEO of the Muhammad Ali Center

Greg Fischer, Mayor of Metro Louisville, initiator of the city’s annual “Give A Day” Week, and Compassionate City advocate

Max Joseph, filmmaker, co-host of MTV’s popular Catfish series, and Director of We Are Your Friends

Jennifer Clinton, PhD, President and Global Ties U.S., which helped facilitate the awards process for the Six Principle winners

Dhani Jones, entrepreneur, TV host, author, philanthropist, and former NFL linebacker

Aaron Stevens (aka Damien Sandow), professional wrestler with the WWE, who resides in Louisville, KY

For additional information go to  If you have a story idea, send it to me at  You can also follow me on Twitter @Sherlenemediapr and Instagram Sherlenemediapro.

Email: @VIPPComm.

The VIPP Report: New exhibit opens at the Muhammad Ali Center


The Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville opens a new exhibit. XOXO: An Exhibit About Love and Forgiveness.  It provides children an opportunity to explore their feelings through facial expressions, words, movement, art making and other hands-on activities.

For more information go to

If you have a story idea, send it to  You can follow us on Twitter @vippcomm.


The VIPP Report: Muhammad Ali welcomes the Prince of Wales to Louisville, KY

Muhammad Ali released this updated photo on Twitter 3-20-15 Cheering on the Louisville Cardinals.  He also sent a statement to the Prince of Wales who was visiting Louisville.

Muhammad Ali released this updated photo on Twitter 3-20-15 Cheering on the Louisville Cardinals. He also sent a statement to the Prince of Wales who was visiting Louisville.

By Sherlene Shanklin

On Friday, Louisville native Muhammad Ali sent a warm “Welcome to Louisville” message to Prince Charles and his wife Camilla who are visiting the city as part of a multiple-day trip to the states.  The statement from Ali, which was read by Mayor Greg Fischer during today’s Harmony and Health Initiative Luncheon at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage.

His Majesty Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall,

 Lonnie and I welcome you to our hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, USA! We are honored that you have come to explore, share, and learn about new sustainable initiatives that are so close to your hearts. Louisville prides itself on being a compassionate city and we are confident that you will leave feeling a sense of our southern hospitality, caring for the environment, and yes—our love for college basketball.  As you travel back to your homeland, we hope you know how much this city respects and admires the many contributions you have made in the world. We think you are the greatest.

 –Muhammad Ali

If you have a story that you would like for Sherlene Shanklin to cover send it to  You can also follow me on Twitter @sherlenemediapr or @vippcomm

The VIPP Report: Louisville native Muhammad Ali celebrates his 73rd birthday today

ali_wallpaper_2_1024The VIPP Report:  Louisville native and boxing legend Muhammad Ali celebrates his 73rd birthday today with family and close friends.  The Greatest of all time, (GOAT) has been in and out of the hospital the last month, recovering from an inflection.  As the Louisville Lip continues to recover his hometown will celebrate tonight with a dinner, the world premiere of And in This Ring….Cassius Clay production and two new temporary exhibits will be on display at the Muhammad Ali Center.

Today, Ali is trending on social media with fans, celebrities and athletes from all over the world sending him birthday wishes.  The Ali family appreciates all of the prayers and well wishes but they are requesting privacy as they focus on Ali’s recovery.

To celebrate Ali’s birthday, I wanted to share one of the quotes that I love, “If you even dream of beating me you’d better wake up and apologize”.  #GOAT #LouisvilleLip #TheChampishere #Ali #boxinglegend #itsmorethanastory #itshistory

The VIPP Report was created by Sherlene Shanklin who’s also a Louisville, KY native.  She has been following the “Greatest” pretty much her whole adult life, even prior to starting her 20 plus years in the broadcast industry.  She’s covered numerous events, honors and special appearances Muhammad Ali has made over the years.

Shanklin is an Assignment Editor and the creator of The411 with Sherlene Shanklin at WHAS 11 Television, ABC affiliate which finds unique stories and finds a way to put a local spin on them.  You can follow her on Twitter @Sherlenemediapr.

If you have a story for The VIPP Report send it to  You can follow the blog on Twitter @VIPPComm.


The VIPP Report: Muhammad Ali and Lonnie Ali will appear at a rally in Louisville


By Sherlene Shanklin

I’ve have learned that Muhammad Ali and his wife Lonnie will attend a senate race rally in Louisville, KY later today.  The Ali’s will attend Alison Lundergen Grimes senate race rally at the Muhammad Ali Center.  Former President Bill Clinton will be the featured speaker.

If you have a story idea send it to  You can follow us on Twitter @VIPPComm.

The VIPP Report: Muhammad Ali documentary in theatres “I AM ALI”


Special to The VIPP Report: 

By Sherlene Shanklin

On the 40th anniversary of the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’, I had the opportunity to get a sneak peak of the new documentary ‘I AM ALI’. To some he’s the ‘Greatest of all Time’ in the boxing ring, but he also refused to be drafted in the Army and fight in the Vietnam War. The member of the Nation of Islam and native of Louisville, Kentucky, faced adversity and still does to this day in his own hometown. But when you watch the film, there was a silver lining and that was his family. In the film, the father of nine, gives his fans a rare look into his life as a father. The two hour documentary shows you how the confident fighter stayed grounded and what meant the most to him.

The story of Cassius Clay, known today as Muhammad Ali, shows how he kept his family close even when they were thousands of miles away. His brother, Rahman says he and his brother were like salt and pepper. You didn’t see one without the other for many years. Rahman trained right alongside the champ. Their parents attended many of the matches and was there as he trained.

This film is unique because it is viewed through the eyes of his two of his daughters. They are the producers of the film. Back when recording phone calls and videos were virtually unheard of, Ali did just that to preserve history and memories for his loved ones. He says in the film ‘This is history’. He would have conversations with his children and record them. On one call he asked his young daughter did she know her purpose. In her little voice she responds that she wants to help others.

The film takes you through the stages of his life. It explains the reason why he started to learn the art of boxing. A Louisville police officer who happened to also be a boxing coach ran into Ali and his brother right after their bicycle was stolen. They were so upset that they literally wanted to fight anyone they saw. The officer suggested that they learn how to fight first. At the age of 12, weighing 87 pounds, that’s what he did. Right in the basement of the building where his bike was stolen, he learned very quickly how to defend himself.

The film takes you through some of the biggest fights in Ali’s career both in and out of the ring. From segregation to his boxing suspension. He says ‘Titles and a little money didn’t mean a thing if you are not free.’

NFL Hall of Famer and activist Jim Brown appears in the film. He discusses the turbulent times in Ali’s life where he showed courage when he was being isolated because of his beliefs, evading the draft, and having his crown being taken away. Brown says he thought Ali was suffering inside.
In 1967, Brown and other top black athletes met with Ali so he could discuss with them why he decided not to join the Army. Brown, Bill Russell, Lew Alcindor, (known today as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), Walter Beach, Bobby Mitchell, Sid Williams, Curtis McClinton, Willie Davis, Jim Shorter and John Wooten stood by Ali’s side in a press conference.

While Ali didn’t fight in the ring he found a new platform to have his voice be heard. He went to universities all over the country. The standing room only venues were full of scholars. Ali jokingly admitted that when he was in school he didn’t make the best grades but his knowledge and sincerity made him a scholar and respected by many.

The film talks to people close to him like his former trainer, the late Angelo Dundee, boxer Mike Tyson, and a rare appearance by Ali’s son, Muhammad Ali Jr. He talks about never wanting to be in the spotlight. Like most children with famous parents, fans always wanted Ali Jr. to measure up to his father. He said he found himself always being challenged to fight and when he didn’t, people would pick on him.

What’s so poignant in the film is when someone says ‘Who doesn’t know Muhammad Ali?’ I’ve travelled all over the world and when I say I’m from Louisville, one of the first things that many will say, isn’t that the home of the ‘Greatest’?

Throughout the film, I looked for Louisville landmarks. From Ali running down Broadway holding up traffic to a scene where his car turned off Main Street. It’s ironic that some 40 years later the Muhammad Ali Center would be built in the same area.

On a personal note: I’ve met Ali on several occasions, from him handing out autographed Quran Bibles in front of the Galleria, (known today as Fourth Street Live) as a child, to growing up and becoming a journalist covering him throughout his career as he has battled Parkinson’s disease.
Ali grew up in West Louisville, a predominately urban community and attended Central High School. I also live in that same neighborhood to this day. You watch him on television and have a sense of pride for your home state. I never thought about his international appeal. He’s one of the many who came from my neighborhood and went on to become a phenomenal success.

‘I AM ALI’ is in theatres and video on demand . In Louisville, you will be able to see the documentary at Village 8 Theatre.


Muhammad Ali remembers Nelson Mandela


Statement Regarding Mr. Mandela’s Passing

I am deeply saddened by the passing of Mr. Mandela. His was a life filled  with purpose and hope; hope for himself, his country and the world. He inspired others to reach for what appeared to be impossible and moved  them to break through the barriers that held them hostage mentally, physically, socially and economically. He made us realize, we are our  brother’s keeper and that our brothers come in all colors. What I will remember most about Mr.Mandela is that he was a man whose  heart, soul and spirit could not be contained or restrained by racial and  economic injustices, metal bars or the burden of hate and revenge. He  taught us forgiveness on a grand scale. His was a spirit born free, destined to soar above the rainbows. Today his spirit is soaring through the heavens.  He is now forever free.

 —Muhammad Ali