An avenue in southern Russia has been renamed “Muhammad Ali Prospekt” in honor of the legendary U.S. boxer, Grozny City Hall reported Thursday.
The Chechen capital of Grozny renamed Kirov Prospekt and unveiled a commemorative plaque in a ceremony attended by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who called Ali “an example of a true Muslim and a great athlete,” the government website reported.
"People like him are born once in a millennium. Despite the severity and composure in the ring in his life, he was a kind-hearted man. He always wore the name of our beloved Prophet Muhammad with honor,” said Kadyrov.
The Chechen leader said that he now hoped to build a boxing gym on the avenue, so that local athletes could train to meet similar heights in world boxing.
The plaque reads: “Absolute world boxing champion and global sporting legend, Muhammad Ali was the greatest sportsman of all time and of all people. He was a symbol of will, courage and strength.” It includes a quote from Ali: “I am more a Muslim than a boxer.”
Ali died June 3, 2016, aged 74, after being hospitalized for a respiratory illness. He was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1984.
"We are honored to have an avenue in Grozny named after this legendary athlete. We will do everything to ensure that it became one of the most beautiful and comfortable in the city," said mayor of Grozny Muslim Khuchiev.
Muhammad Ali is a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame, an Olympic gold medalist and three-time world heavyweight champion. He thrived in the spotlight and was famous for his provocative and loquacious ringside manner. During the Vietnam War, Ali was a conscientious objector, refusing to join the U.S. Armed Forces for religious reasons.