Boxing great and humanitarian Muhammad Ali is about to receive an honor reserved for those of the highest distinction, whose lives have impacted millions and whose deeds have brought great honor and prestige to a city, a state or a nation.
He’s having an airport named after him.
Ali, considered by many as the greatest athlete of the 20th century, was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. Now, Louisville is honoring its hometown hero by renaming the city’s airport after Ali.
City officials announced this week, after a petition drive that was started following "The Greatest's" 2016 death, that Louisville International Airport will be renamed Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.
"Muhammad Ali belonged to the world, but he only had one hometown, and fortunately, that is our great city of Louisville, Mayor Greg Fischer said, the Courier-Journal reported.
“Muhammad became one of the most well-known people to ever walk the Earth and has left a legacy of humanitarianism and athleticism that has inspired billions of people,” Fischer said.
Muhammad Ali belonged to the world, but he only had one hometown. Today’s decision to change @flylouisville’s name to Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport is a major piece of a broader effort to celebrate those deep ties. pic.twitter.com/mxXyX4pILl— Mayor Greg Fischer (@louisvillemayor) January 16, 2019
“It’s important that we, as a city, further champion The Champ’s legacy,” he said. “And the airport renaming is a wonderful next step.”
There are a few steps to go before the name change is official. The city still needs Federal Aviation Administration approval and must finalize an agreement to use his name and likeness.
The city will also spend about $100,000 in marketing and rebranding to align the airport name change to the city's tourism efforts, the newspaper reported.
Ali, who was born Cassius Clay, would have turned 77 years old Thursday, and city officials hope the renaming and marketing changes are finished by June for the I Am Ali festival, the anniversary of his death in 2016.
We are so excited to announce that @FlyLouisville will be changing it's name to Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport. Keeping Muhammad's legacy alive in his hometown that he loved so much is vital to the Ali Center's mission.— Muhammad Ali Center (@AliCenter) January 16, 2019
What a great birthday present for The Champ! pic.twitter.com/7bICfilkzw
Louisville International Airport will be renamed after the city's legendary boxer, Muhammad Ali.— BOXING CORNER 2️⃣4️⃣/7️⃣ (@boxingcorner247) January 17, 2019
Now his name will be among the first things visitors and travelers see when they fly into his beloved hometown.
The new name: Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport.
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