It was announced a couple weeks back, but the actual ceremony for Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year Awards was last night (Dec. 11) in Los Angeles. It was there that John Cena was handed the trophy celebrating his being named the 2018 Muhammad Ali Legacy Award winner.
The award itself and the profile on Cena which appears in the magazine and on their website makes it clear the honor is focused on his work outside the squared circle - primarily with Make-A-Wish, but all the ways he gives of himself & his time for the benefit of others. Even though it’s not a prize for his job with WWE, though, Cena says that a WWE Superstar was even considered shows that attitudes toward their “fake” sport are changing:
“So, I’ve just been given the Muhammad Ali Sports Legacy Award here at the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year Awards. It’s truly moving to see some of those moments back and be able to relive some of those moments and to mentioned in the same sentence as Muhammad Ali let alone to be respected for comparable legacies is simply incredible.
I just want to say that I accept this award tonight on behalf of all the WWE Superstars, because I believe if put in my shoes they would all make the exact same choice. Tonight is a wonderful night for WWE, because here I am, a sports entertainer being awarded a tremendous honor among athletes. It’s not something that probably would have happened a few years ago, but it’s amazing to see cultural change and people have open minds about what we do and accepts as just being damn good at what we do. So like I said up there, I’m actually sending this award to Connecticut so it can be displayed in WWE headquarters, because that’s where it belongs. It’s part of all us, it’s for all of us. I’m headed on to Hong Kong to keep that legacy thing, so like I said I love what I do and I’m gonna be doing what I love and tonight was a tremendous honor, so thank you Sports Illustrated.”
Join us in offering Cena congrats, as his hard work aimed at lifting others is deserving of the attention he’ll get for this award. And let us know if you think this really is a sign that sports entertainment is being accepted along with “real” sports now, or if a crossover star like Cena is just an exception.