The 61-year-old, who suffers from degenerative Parkinson's disease, picked up a special award late Thursday for his lifetime achievements.
Ali, who started out as Cassius Clay, was world heavyweight boxing champion from 1964 to 1967 when he was stripped of his title for refusing to fight in the Vietnam War.
In 1974 he became the first boxer to regain the title when he beat the previously invincible George Foreman in their Rumble in the Jungle in Kinshasa.
The audience gave him a lengthy, standing ovation after a tribute speech by British supermodel and actress Liz Hurley which she gave in German.
Actor Klaus Maria Brandauer, whose films have included Out of Africa and the Bond movie Never say never again, also won a lifetime award.
Other Bambis were given to supermodel Heidi Klum, singer Dido, German rocker Petter Maffay, Adidas boss Herbert Heiner, cyclist Jan Ullrich and Germany's World Cup-winning female football team.
The Bambis are one of Germany's most sought-after awards, handed out for 55 years now and covering everything from sport and pop to politics and economy.