LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A Louisville Legend was laid to rest Monday as family and friends said goodbye to Jimmy Ellis. The former Heavyweight Champion of the World died Tuesday, May 6 after a long battle with Alzheimer's Disease. He was 74.
Now, there's an effort underway to make Ellis a hometown hero.
You've seen the large mural banner's on buildings all over Louisville with our hometown heroes. A group led by local boxing supporters certainly believe Jimmy Ellis belongs in that group.
They say Ellis was a hometown hero in every sense of the word; not only because he was the heavyweight champion of the world from 1968 to 1970 and Muhammad Ali's sparring partner and friend, but also for his work for years mentoring young athletes in the area.
Muhammad Ali said of Ellis, "In the world of heavyweights, I have always thought Jimmy was one of the best." The Muhammad Ali Center's Jeannie Kanke said because of Ali's high regard of Jimmy Ellis, the Center supports the idea of a banner.
His family said it would have been great to have the banner when Ellis was alive, but that his spirit is still with us and his six children would be honored if it happens.
"Every city I've ever gone to and believe me I've traveled extensively," Jimmy Ellis' brother Jerry Ellis said. "Every champion of any major sport has always gotten recognition, I don't care if it's San Diego, Los Angeles, Detroit or Chicago. When you have a world champion that's very special and something to be proud of as a city."
Terry Middleton is among a group of local boxing supporters who plan to work on getting Ellis's banner up. The folks with Hometown Heroes said they would love to entertain the idea of having a banner for Jimmy Ellis and say his name has come up in several discussions.
If approved by Hometown Heroes, supporters do need sponsors to help out with funding. If you'd like to help you can contact Terry Middleton at (812) 945-6965.
Copyright 2014 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.
1115 Mt. Auburn Road
Public File Contact: