David Haye
David Haye launched a petition for boxing legend Muhammad Ali to be given an honorary knighthoodGetty

Former WBA world heavyweight champion David Haye has launched a petition urging Prime Minister David Cameron to confer an honorary knighthood on Muhammad Ali. Haye, who idlolises the boxer, has started a change.org petition, calling for Ali's contribution to be recognised.

Widely known as the greatest boxer of all time, Ali is a former three-time heavyweight world champion, is one of the most recognised sports figures on the planet and has been crowned Sports Personality of the Century by BBC.

The change petition comes ahead of Ali's visit to Britain next week, where he will officially open an exhibition titled, I Am The Greatest, at the O2 arena in Greenwich, which will run from 3 March until 31 August.

Speaking to the media, Haye said, "Like millions of others around the world Muhammad Ali is a hero of mine and the inspiration that made me want to become a boxer."

"This may well be 'The Greatest's' last visit to the UK and he deserves to be recognized formally, not only for his sporting achievements that made him one of the most recognizable people on the planet, but also his amazing humanitarian work over many years that have had an impact across the world."

"Muhammad loves t he UK. He first came to prominence here when he fought Henry Cooper nearly 53 years ago and he's entertained and enthralled us ever since."

"The Greatest' has received many major awards and high honours worldwide and I believe it's time the UK honoured him too. Please sign the petition to credit Muhammad Ali with the honorary knighthood he fully deserves," Haye said.

Honorary knighthood is reserved for non-UK nationals who are special to the country, with previous recipients being U2 lead singer Bono and Hollywood director Steven Spielberg. Ali, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, retired from the sport in 1981, winning 56 off his 61 professional fights.