Following what would have been the boxing legend’s 77th birthday in January of last month, Mohammad Ali’s hometown of Louisville is set to be re-naming its airport after him in a touching tribute.
The boxing star was born under the name of Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr on January 17, 1942, in Kentucky, Louisville. He was self-titled as the “Greatest of All Time” and famous for the catch-phrase “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” He was a three-time heavyweight champion, with a record of 56 wins, 37 of which he achieved via knock-out. He sadly passed away in 2016 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.
The Mayor of Louisville, Greg Fischer announced that the city’s Regional Airport Authority had voted to rename the Airport after the late sports-star as ‘Muhammad Ali International Airport’. Later this year on June 3rd, a formal re-naming ceremony shall take place during the “I am Ali” festival, as new signage will be installed across the airport building and throughout the main city roads that lead up to it.
Approximately 4.7 million pounds of cargo and 3.2 million passengers passed through the airport in 2014 alone. The airport constitutes of three runways and is spread out across 1,500 acres. It is inclusive of a range of postal services such as Worldport and UPS, the United Parcel Service.
Muhammad Ali’s Widow Lonnie Ali released the following statement: “I am proud that the Louisville Regional Airport Authority and the City of Louisville are supportive of changing the name of the Louisville International Airport to reflect Muhammad’s impact on the city and his love for his hometown. I am happy that visitors from far and wide who travel to Louisville will have another touch point to Muhammad and be reminded of his open and inclusive nature, which is reflective of our city. Muhammad was a global citizen, but he never forgot the city that gave him his start. It is a fitting testament to his legacy.”
The Airport Authority board has signed an official agreement with Ali Enterprises LLC for the legal use of the boxer’s name. The airport-renaming is expected to increase the city’s tourism, as hopefully Mohammad’s fans, following and new visitors will be encouraged to use its services.
“Adding Muhammad Ali’s name to the Louisville International Airport reminds travellers from around the world that our city is a place to have a touch-point with one of the most-recognized icons of all time,” said president and CEO of the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau Karen Williams.
By Manisha Bhanot.