Miami Beach

The Miami Beach street where Muhammad Ali ‘shook up the world’ now bears his name

Commissioners Micky Steinberg, Michael Grieco, Joy Malakoff, Mayor Philip Levine, Ricky Arriola and John Elizabeth Aleman pose in front of the new street sign honoring Muhammad Ali Way, also know as Convention Center Drive on Tuesday.
Commissioners Micky Steinberg, Michael Grieco, Joy Malakoff, Mayor Philip Levine, Ricky Arriola and John Elizabeth Aleman pose in front of the new street sign honoring Muhammad Ali Way, also know as Convention Center Drive on Tuesday. cmguerrero@elnuevoherald.com

The street in Miami Beach where Muhammad Ali’s legend was born now bears the boxing icon’s name.

On Tuesday, Beach commissioners approved adding a new name to Convention Center Drive: “Muhammad Ali Way.” Mayor Philip Levine proposed the change after Ali’s death on June 3.

A 22-year-old Ali, then known as Cassius Clay, grabbed the world’s attention Feb. 25, 1964, at the Miami Beach Convention Center when he upset Sonny Liston in a heavyweight title bout that became a seminal sports moment of the 20th century.

“I shook up the world!” Ali boasted in a ringside interview after he won.

Tuesday’s unveiling began with a compilation of video footage showing Ali training in South Beach at the 5th Street Gym, driving a convertible by Art Deco hotels and, of course, running across the ring, arms stretched high, after his victory against Liston.

“What’s amazing is all this happened right next door at the Miami Beach Convention Center,” Levine said at Tuesday’s unveiling.

Lonnie Ali, the boxer’s widow, wrote a letter to the city saying her family was thrilled by the honor.

“Miami became Muhammad’s home while he was still a young Cassius Clay,” Lonnie Ali wrote. “It was here he began his professional career as a professional boxer in earnest, under the watchful eye of Angelo Dundee,” Ali’s trainer.

Ali’s name will go on a green street sign with two boxing gloves after Miami-Dade commissioners give final approval. The city debuted the sign outside City Hall after Tuesday’s meeting.

But Convention Center Drive isn’t alone in receiving The Greatest’s name.

“I’m going to have a son next week,” said Commissioner Ricky Arriola, whose girlfriend is days away from giving birth. “His middle name is going to be Ali.”

Joey Flechas: 305-376-3602, @joeflech

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