The mark of a sports legend is a person’s ability to remain in the hearts and minds of those they impact, long after the final days of their professional career. Few names in American history hold that type of weight— but Muhammad Ali is one of them. The World’s Greatest was a title rightfully earned by Ali, as he left his mark across professional boxing, activism, and philanthropy. He was ranked the greatest athlete of the 20th century by Sports Illustrated. An honor Ali undoubtedly deserved after fighting his way through 21 boxers to win the world heavyweight title, at the same time winning 14 unified title fights. A record that went unbeaten for 35 years.
Three years after his death in 2016, Muhammad Ali is still being celebrated for his undeniable influence on the sport of boxing and pop culture as a whole. Officials from the Louisville Regional Airport in his hometown of Kentucky, have announced that they will rename the airport in his honor. The Louisville International Airport will become the Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport. The announcement comes on what would have been the champ’s 77th birthday.
As of right now, officials are hard at work finalizing an agreement with Muhammad Ali Enterprises LLC, to gain the rights to use Ali’s name and likeness. Following that agreement, airport officials are set to spend $100,000 on necessary changes to reflect his presence.
Greg Fischer, Mayor of Louisville spoke highly of Ali during a news conference regarding the new honor to be bestowed upon the late great champion.
“Muhammad Ali belonged to the world, but he only had one hometown, and fortunately, that is our great city of Louisville,” Fischer said.
Ali’s widow, Lonnie Ali said in a news release that she is proud of the name change and that although Ali was a “global citizen,” he never forgot where he came from.
According to NBC News, Louisville mayor Greg Fischer cited research showing that Ali’s name recognition is even greater than Louisville’s, and that he’s working to make sure Ali’s ties to the city of Louisville are stronger than they’ve ever been. Rightfully so and beginning with an airport bearing his name is far from a bad start.
Socially and politically, Muhammad Ali stood at the epicenter of the civil rights movement at the height of his career. Refusing to be drafted into the U.S. military due to his religious beliefs, and disagreement with any African-American involvement in the Vietnam War. An ordinary person would not risk all that he’d worked for in the face of standing for what’s right, but Muhammad Ali was far from ordinary. That’s what made him a titan, he was larger than life with a charismatic persona, and the fists to back up the trash talk that made him a pop cultural phenomenon.