Muhammad Ali’s hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, has renamed its airport in honour of the world champion boxer who died in 2016.
The Louisville Regional Airport Authority board announced its decision on Wednesday to call the airport the Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport.
“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,” said Mayor Greg Fischer. “It important that we, as a city, further champion The Champ’s legacy, and the airport renaming is a wonderful next step.”
Lonnie Ali, his widow, said she was proud of the board’s decision.
“Muhammad was a global citizen, but he never forgot the city that gave him his start,” she said in the statement.
Ali’s boxing career was launched with the help of a team of investors in Louisville. Those businessmen introduced Cassius Clay, as he was known, to his long-time trainer Angelo Dundee.
Ali died at the age of 74, after a decades-long battle with Parkinson’s disease. He was buried in a private ceremony in Louisville, after his coffin passed by thousands of well-wishers in the city’s streets.
Last year, Ali’s boyhood home in West Louisville was renovated and turned into a museum. An educational and cultural center in the city also bears his name.
Ali was first directed toward boxing by Louisville police officer and boxing coach Joe E. Martin, who encountered the 12-year-old fuming over a thief’s having taken his bicycle.
Ali said in his 1975 autobiography that shortly after his return from the Rome Olympics, he threw his gold medal into the Ohio River after he and a friend were refused service at a “whites-only” restaurant and fought with a white gang.