Louisville airport renamed for Muhammad Ali

Louisville, January 17, (Online): Louisvillians will soon be floating — flying, in fact — like a butterfly.
Airport officials overwhelmingly voted Wednesday to rename Louisville International Airport for native son Muhammad Ali, the city’s heavyweight boxing legend and humanitarian who died in 2016.
The new name: Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport.
The airport’s three-letter identifier, “SDF,” will not change. Alice International Airport in Alice, Texas, uses the “ALI” designation.
The Louisville Regional Airport Authority’s board, which is appointed by Louisville’s mayor and Kentucky’s governor, approved changing the name at the recommendation of a working group.
“Even as we honor and celebrate him, we will also positively boost our city’s global identity,” said Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, an airport board member. “Muhammad loved this city, and he was never shy about bragging on us. So we should certainly never be shy about bragging on him. And he’s part of us.”
Board member Nikki Jackson, the senior vice president and regional executive of the Louisville Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, served on the working group. She said the move can “amplify the brand” of the Louisville region.
Speaking as a black woman, she told the board she is “always looking for opportunities for people who look like me to be validated and exalted and celebrated. It doesn’t happen a whole lot.
All but one board member voted for the change in a voice vote. Mary Rose Evans, the boards vice chair who voted “present,” did not immediately return a phone call Wednesday afternoon.
The action still requires finalizing an agreement with Muhammad Ali Enterprises to use Ali’s name, but airport authority executive director Dan Mann said he expects that can be done soon and at no cost to the airport agency.
Lonnie Ali, Muhammad Ali’s widow, said in a statement that the name change will give visitors to Louisville another “touch point” with Ali.
“Muhammad was a global citizen, but he never forgot the city that gave him his start,” she said. “It is a fitting testament to his legacy.”