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Louisville renames airport after hometown hero Muhammad Ali

Posted: 10:12 PM, Jan 16, 2019
Updated: 2019-01-16 23:12:30-05

Louisville visitors will fly "like a butterfly" after the city renames its airport after hometown great Muhammad Ali.

After Wednesday's vote on a recommendation by a working group that studied renaming for more than a year, the city announced the airport will become the Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport, instead of Louisville International Airport.

Heavyweight champion boxer Ali labeled himself "The Greatest of All Time," and was among the most famous and beloved athletes on the planet. Ali was known not only for his athletic prowess but also for his social activism. He died in 2016 after decades with Parkinson's disease.

"This tells the world how proud we are to associate 'The Greatest' with not only our great city, but our great airport," Jim Welch, chairman of the Airport Authority Board, said in a statement .

Ali's widow, Lonnie Ali, expressed her support for the name change: "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."

Though the airport's name will change, the airport's three-letter International Air Transport Association Location Identifier, SDF, will not.

Louisville Tourism says the city stands to reap economic benefits by boosting Ali-related tourism, much as the city has done in establishing Bourbonism as a global tourist experience.

"Muhammad ... has left a legacy of humanitarianism and athleticism that has inspired billions of people," Mayor Greg Fischer said in a statement. "It important that we, as a city, further champion The Champ's legacy, and the airport renaming is a wonderful next step."