The mayor of Louisville Greg Fischer has compared Sunil Gavaskar with the great boxer Muhammad Ali. Louisville has honored the former India cricketer by naming a cricket ground after him. Fischer is on a visit to Mumbai as part of the Strong Cities Network of which Louisville is a member.
"Not everyone can be the greatest athlete, but everyone can be a great humanitarian. From a human standpoint, Mr. Gavaskar is one of the most beautiful people I've met. When he came to Louisville, he gave people time; always had time for one more photograph. The way people crowded around him… to me, he was the Muhammad Ali of cricket," says Fischer.
In October last year, Gavaskar traveled to Louisville for the inauguration of the Sunil M Gavaskar Cricket Field (SMGCF). However, the mayor revealed that the idea of naming it after Gavaskar came from Indian origin resident of Louisville Jai Bokey, whom he described as a "humble but very smart person."
"We had a big banquet for Gavaskar at the Muhammad Ali Center and to see all that come together in one place made me feel very good about the spirit of our city. It is the home of Ali and a new home for Gavaskar." The importance of cricket development in his city is not lost on Fischer: "I'm hoping to attract more cricketers to Louisville. One of our goals is to have a player of IPL quality someday and when they ask from where he is from, we can say, 'From Louisville, Kentucky — the home of Sunil Gavaskar Field and Muhammad Ali.'"
Fischer also showed surprise after he got to know there is no ground named after Gavaskar in his home city, Mumbai. "That's a tragedy. Then, the folks in Mumbai need to come to Louisville," he said with a chuckle.
Gavaskar has 34 Test centuries, which was a record number of tons for two decades. It was broken by Sachin Tendulkar in December 2005. He was also the first person to score centuries in both innings of a Test match three times and first ever to score 10,000 runs in Tests.