NEW YORK, April 15, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Rare early-career photos of Muhammad Ali, curated from a collection of more than 3,000 historical images of Ali in training and spending time with his family, are being made available to consumers for the first time by USA TODAY Sports in conjunction with the launch of The USA TODAY Sports store (www.fanphotos.com/usatoday), a new e-commerce destination for digital reprints and images from the archives of USA TODAY Sports.
The Ali images are originally from the library of The Courier-Journal in Louisville, part of the USA TODAY Sports Media Group and the original hometown newspaper of Ali and his family. Eight of the first select images from the collection, curated by USA TODAY Sports Images and licensed through Authentic Brands Group, were donated for silent auction this weekend in Phoenix, AZ, at the annual Celebrity Fight Night fundraiser to benefit the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow Neurological Institute.
USA TODAY Sports is the official media partner of Celebrity Fight Night (CFN).
"We're glad that Celebrity Fight Night could serve as the first platform to debut and help bring awareness to this iconic collection of images," said CFN Executive Director Sean Currie. "USA TODAY Sports has been a great partner in our efforts to raise awareness and funds toward our charitable partners, and this Ali Collection obviously carries great resonance with our ongoing mission and those who have supported us throughout our nearly 20-year history."
Images from the Ali Collection can be purchased by consumers through the new USA TODAY Sports Store, launched in partnership with Brand Affinity Technologies. Brand Affinity has extensive experience operating online photo stores with teams in the National Football League (NFL), National Basketball Association (NBA), National Hockey League (NHL) and Major League Baseball (MLB), and last month worked with USA TODAY Sports Images and Major League Soccer (MLS) to launch the MLS online photo store at mls.fanphotos.com.
At the outset, The USA TODAY Sports Store will include the rare Ali Collection as well as live action photography from MLS, plus digital reprints of the front page of USA TODAY Sports going back through 1999. Additional collections and images from other sports will be added over time.
"We are always looking to provide our audience with new and meaningful ways to engage with our content," said Dave Morgan, President of the USA TODAY Sports Media Group. "The USA TODAY Sports Store creates a great opportunity for fans who want to forever commemorate memorable moments in history involving their favorite teams and athletes, just as those moments were captured by USA TODAY Sports and USA TODAY Sports Images."
USA TODAY Sports Images is the largest dedicated sports photography service in North America, covering over 10,000 events each year with a network of more than 300 professional photographers. In addition to the more than 100 local and national media properties within the USA TODAY Sports Media Group universe, USA TODAY Sports Images also provides images to many of the top media companies in the world, either directly or through a worldwide distribution agreement with Reuters Media.
About the USA TODAY Sports Media Group:
The USA TODAY Sports Media Group encompasses all sports initiatives across USA TODAY Sports and Gannett's more than 120 well-known local media brands. It also includes the sports photography wire service USA TODAY Sports Images; leading high school sports destination USA TODAY High School Sports; Sports On Earth, a joint venture with MLB Advanced Media dedicated to great sports writing in all its forms; the social news hub For The Win, and the hundreds of sites within USA TODAY Sports Digital Properties such as TheBigLead.com and mixed martial arts site MMAJunkie.com, among others. USA TODAY is owned by Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE: GCI).
About Celebrity Fight Night
Celebrity Fight Night Foundation is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 1994 by Jimmy Walker to support the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, as well as numerous other charities. For more information, visit www.celebrityfightnight.org.
About Authentic Brands Group
Authentic Brands Group, in partnership with Leonard Green & Partners, is an intellectual property corporation with a mandate to acquire, manage and build long-term value in prominent consumer brands. Headquartered in New York City, ABG's mission is to further enhance brand equity through partnering with best-in-class licensees and direct-to-retail partnerships. ABG brands include Marilyn Monroe®, Muhammad Ali®, Elvis Presley®, Juicy Couture®, Judith Leiber®, Adrienne Vittadini®, Taryn Rose®, Hickey Freeman®, Hart Schaffner Marx®, Palm Beach®, Misook®, Prince®, Spyder®, Ektelon®, Viking®, Bobby Jones®, TapouT®, Sportcraft®. www.abg-nyc.com.
About Brand Affinity Technologies
Brand Affinity Technologies, founded in 2007, is the technology and marketing services company focused on activating, engaging, and monetizing fans. Brand Affinity's offerings power highly-targeted and interactive 360° fan-centric experiences and promotions. Its partners include thousands of celebrities, athletes, professional sports teams and leagues, and event promoters. Brand Affinity Technologies provides over 100 sports teams, entertainment venues, and advertising brands with innovative fan engagement services, including fan photography and e-commerce solutions. For more information, visit http://www.brandaffinity.net.
SOURCE USA TODAY Sports Media Group