Muhammad Ali would have been 77 years old if he were alive today.
Born Cassius Clay, Ali defeated Sonny Liston in 1964 and became the Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the World.
Ali won the World Heavyweight Boxing championship three times and won the North American Boxing Federation championship as well as an Olympic gold medal.
Muhammad Ali became a controversial figure when he draft dodged and refused to serve in the Vietnam War.
Ali was also stripped of his Heavyweight title in 1967.
While controversial to some, Ali was beloved by many for the same reason mainly for his self-belief and strong religious and political convictions.
For his many life accomplishments, Louisville International Airport will soon be Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport, the Louisville Regional Airport Authority announced yesterday, one day before what would have been Ali’s 77th birthday.
“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 at a news conference yesterday.
“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.”
Ali’s widow, Lonnie Ali, said in a news release from the board that she is proud of the name change. She said that although Ali was a “global citizen,” he never forgot his hometown.
Ali had many supporters and mentees.
Former NCAA and NBA Champion Derek Anderson thought the world of Ali.
Anderson tells his life story in his book, “Stamina,” and promotes his philosphy through his nonprofit, Stamina Foundation / Acts of Kindness. Despite all the hardships he endured, Anderson said that he never allowed his life to slide into the negative territory of drugs or crime. Even as he stumbled while experiencing early success as an NCAA player – suffering major injuries to both ACLs – he persevered, eventually making it to the NBA to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Los Angeles Clippers.
The champ often gave him sound advice: “Read more so you can learn more so you can educate more so you can be kind more,” Anderson said, quoting advice given by a trusted friend, mentor, and legendary athlete. “Muhammad Ali taught me that.”
In 1999, Ali was crowned “Sportsman of the Century” by Sports Illustrated. Ali died in 2016 after a long bout with Parkinson’s Disease.
Officials are working to finalize an agreement with Muhammad Ali Enterprises LLC in order to use the boxer’s name and likeness, airport officials told the paper. Once the agreement is approved, officials are set to spend $100,000 to make changes to the airport that will reflect Ali’s presence.