Louisville has made its airport's name The Greatest.
The board of the Louisville Regional Airport Authority voted
Wednesday to rename the airport after the city's most famous son. The new name
is 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," Louisville mayor Greg Fischer said
in a prepared statement. "It is important that we, as a city, further
champion The Champ's legacy, and the airport renaming is a wonderful next step."
Ali, an Olympic gold medalist and three-time heavyweight
boxing champion, was named Sportsman of the 20th Century by Sports Illustrated.
But he ultimately became known as much for his civil rights and humanitarian
work as for his time in the ring. Ali was presented with the Medal of Freedom
by president George W. Bush in 2005. He died in 2016.
In announcing the airport name change, Fischer cited
research that shows Ali has much higher name recognition than the city of
The name change will be a boon to Louisville tourism, the
local destination authority said.
"Adding Muhammad Ali's name to the Louisville
International Airport reminds travelers from around the world that our city is
a place to have a touchpoint with one of the most recognized icons of all time,"
said Louisville Tourism CEO Karen Williams. "It supports current marketing
efforts to engage in Ali's 'Footsteps of Greatness' as a reason to inspire
visitation to Louisville."
The Muhammad Ali Center, a museum and learning center
dedicated to Ali's life and legacy, is one of the tourism anchors of downtown
Muhammad Ali Airport will continue to go by its current code
of SDF, rather than changing to ALI.