Louisville renames airport after native son Muhammad Ali

Officials announced Wednesday that the Louisville International Airport will be renamed for Muhammad Ali, who was born and buried in the Kentucky city.

The decision arrived via a unanimous vote of the Louisville Airport Authority with one board member abstaining, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. Board members had been mulling the proposal since 2017.

Before the renaming, the airport was simply known as Louisville International Airport.

Mayor touts ‘legacy of humanitarianism’

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, who proposed the motion, applauded the decision.

“Muhammad Ali belonged to the world, but he only had one hometown, and fortunately, that is our great city of Louisville,” Fischer said. “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 died in 2016 at 74 years old. He had a 56-5 record as a boxer, including three stints as the world heavyweight champion. He also won the light heavyweight gold medal at the 1960 Olympics.

Ali was as well-known for his activism and protests outside the ring as he was for his accolades and outsized personality as a boxer.

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Muhammad Ali's funeral procession through Louisville
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Muhammad Ali's funeral procession through Louisville
A mourner throws a rose onto the hearse carrying the body of the late Muhammad Ali as it enters Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S. June 10, 2016. REUTERS/John Sommers II
LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: Police wait the hearse carrying the body of Muhammed Ali to pass by his childhood home on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. The funeral possession wound through Louisville, preceding a memorial service and giving the public an opportunity to honor the four-time world heavyweight boxing champion, who died on June 3 at age 74. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: People wait along the childhood street of Muhammed Ali for his funeral procession to pass by on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. The procession preceded a memorial service, giving the public an opportunity to honor the four-time world heavyweight boxing champion. Ali died on June 3 at age 74. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: People get their picture taken in front of Muhammad Ali's childhood home on Grand Avenue on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. The funeral procession for Ali will be traveling over 20 miles on a designated route throughout Louisville. The four-time world heavyweight boxing champion died on June 3 at age 74. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: Friends and family of Muhammad Ali shake hands with people in the crowd lining Grand Avenue as the funeral procession motorcade drives in front Ali's childhood home on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. The funeral procession for Ali was traveling over 20 miles on a designated route throughout Louisville on the way to Cave Hill Cemetery. The four-time world heavyweight boxing champion died on June 3 at age 74. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: Brown Rawls (man middle) and his family have their photo taken in front of a Muhammad Ali back drop in the front yard of house down the street from his childhood home on Grand Avenue on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. The funeral procession for Ali will be traveling over 20 miles on a designated route throughout Louisville. The four-time world heavyweight boxing champion died on June 3 at age 74. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
Brandon Liggons, 2, (L) holds an image of Muhammad Ali during the funeral procession for the three-time heavyweight boxing champion in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., June 10, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: People stand in front of Muhammad Ali's childhood home on Grand Avenue on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. The funeral procession for Ali will be traveling over 20 miles on a designated route throughout Louisville. The four-time world heavyweight boxing champion died on June 3 at age 74. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
Jerry Martin walks his horse, Rekoa, fashioned as a riderless horse, outside boxing legend Muhammad Ali's childhood home where mourners wait to pay their respects during a funeral procession on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. Thousands of people from near and far were expected to line the streets of Muhammad Ali's hometown Louisville on Friday to say goodbye to the boxing legend and civil rights hero, who mesmerized the world with his dazzling skills. / AFP / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
A man walks down the street with a huge painting of boxing legend Muhammad Ali outside his childhood home where mourners wait to pay their respects to a funeral procession on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. Thousands of people from near and far were expected to line the streets of Muhammad Ali's hometown Louisville on Friday to say goodbye to the boxing legend and civil rights hero, who mesmerized the world with his dazzling skills. / AFP / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
People sit in lawn chairs outside boxing legend Muhammad Ali's childhood home where mourners wait to pay their respects during a funeral procession on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. Thousands of people from near and far were expected to line the streets of Muhammad Ali's hometown Louisville on Friday to say goodbye to the boxing legend and civil rights hero, who mesmerized the world with his dazzling skills. / AFP / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman places flower peddles along the entrance to Cave Hill Cemetery for the funeral procession for boxing legend Muhammad Ali on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. Ali will be laid to rest Friday, the culmination of a two-day farewell for the beloved boxing legend and civil rights hero who electrified crowds the world over. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Two men hold up placards reading 'Me, We', a quote by boxing legend Muhammad Ali as they wait outside his childhood home with other mourners to pay their respects during a funeral procession on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. Thousands of people from near and far were expected to line the streets of Muhammad Ali's hometown Louisville on Friday to say goodbye to the boxing legend and civil rights hero, who mesmerized the world with his dazzling skills. / AFP / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
The coffin bearing the remains of Muhammad Ali is loaded into a hearse at the A D Porter & Sons funeral home during the funeral procession for the three-time heavyweight boxing champion in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., June 10, 2016. REUTERS/Adrees Latif TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
The hearse carrying the remains of Muhammad Ali leaves the A D Porter & Sons funeral home during the funeral procession for the three-time heavyweight boxing champion in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., June 10, 2016. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
People wait to view a procession for boxing legend Muhammad Ali pass on the way to Cave Hill Cemetery June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. Thousands of people from near and far were expected to line the streets of Muhammad Ali's hometown Louisville on Friday to say goodbye to the boxing legend and civil rights hero, who mesmerized the world with his dazzling skills. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Thirteen-year-old Malik Parker shadow boxes outside boxing legend Muhammad Ali's childhood home where mourners wait to pay their respects during a funeral procession on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. Thousands of people from near and far were expected to line the streets of Muhammad Ali's hometown Louisville on Friday to say goodbye to the boxing legend and civil rights hero, who mesmerized the world with his dazzling skills. / AFP / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
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Once reviled, Ali died a hero

After changing his name to from Cassius Clay to Ali with Malcolm X sitting by his side and conscientiously objecting to participating in the Vietnam War, he was largely reviled by a significant portion of the U.S. population, similar to the wrath delivered to Colin Kaepernick today.

His decision cost him his world championship in 1967.

But as public sentiment changed, history recognized Ali for the great social leader that he was. That an American city is enthusiastically renaming its airport after Ali is a testament to the impact he had not only as an athlete, but a social justice champion who changed the way Americans think about issues.

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