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Mayor Fischer celebrates decision to rename Louisville airport to honor Muhammad Ali

1/30/2019, noon | Updated on 1/30/2019, noon
Mayor Greg Fischer said he is pleased and proud of a recent decision by the Louisville Regional Airport Authority Board ...
The Louisville Regional Airport Authority Board recently decided to rename the city’s airport for its native son, Muhammad Ali (pictured).

Mayor Fischer celebrates decision to rename Louisville airport to honor Muhammad Ali

Mayor Greg Fischer said he is pleased and proud of a recent decision by the Louisville Regional Airport Authority Board to rename the city’s airport for its native son, Muhammad Ali.

The new name is Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport. The airport’s three-letter International Air Transport Association Location Identifier – SDF – will not change.

“Muhammad Ali belonged to the world, but he only had one hometown, and fortunately, that is our great city of Louisville. 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,” the Mayor said. “It’s important that we, as a city, further champion The Champ’s legacy, and the airport renaming is a wonderful next step.”

The vote came after a recommendation from a board working group that had studied renaming for more than a year.

“This is a historic day for the airport and our region,” said Jim Welch, chair of the Airport Authority Board. “By choosing to rename the airport for Muhammad Ali, a world-renowned humanitarian honored as a United Nations Messenger of Peace and an athlete honored as Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the 20th Century, we as a community are honoring his legacy and celebrating this global icon who is a fellow Louisvillian. This tells the world how proud we are to associate ‘The Greatest’ with not only our great city, but our great airport.”

Muhammad Ali’s widow, Lonnie Ali said, “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 also authorized an agreement with Muhammad Ali Enterprises, LLC for use of Ali’s name. Citing research showing that Muhammad Ali has much greater name recognition than Louisville, Ky., Mayor Fischer said the airport renaming is just one piece of a much broader effort to share and celebrate Ali’s Louisville ties, and he’s organizing a community work group to develop plans to do that.

As the city of Ali’s birth, and the place that throughout his life he proclaimed as “the greatest city in the world,” the Mayor said, “It is our obligation and opportunity to showcase the many stories and complexities that made up the man known as ‘The Greatest of All Time.’”

Elevating and further celebrating Ali as a hometown hero complements the city’s Lean Into Louisville initiative, which is a series of conversations, presentations, activities and art exhibits to confront the history and legacy of all forms of discrimination and inequality.