The Illawarra has been renamed The Volkanovski as a tribute to world UFC featherweight champion, and Windang local, Alex Volkanovski.
"Some towns give their heroes the key to the city, here in the Illawarra we're going to go one bigger, and we're going to give our hero the keys to the pub," The Volkanovski publican Ryan Aitchison said.
Mr Volkanovski won the UFC Featherweight Championship in 2019, defeating Max Holloway and in a rematch retained the title in 2020.
After a delay due to COVID-19, Mr Volkanovski again retained his title in 2021 going up against Brian Ortega.
Mr Volkanovski will face up against Chan Sung Jung for UFC 273 on 9 April 2022 and hopes to once again bring the title home to the Illawarra.
While Mr Volkanovski's prowess in the ring has brought him global recognition, his service to the local community outside of it means he is just as deserving of the keys to the pub, said Mr Aitchison.
"He always talks about where he comes from and he raves about the place, and now it's time for us to start raving about our hero, a remarkable human that is an inspiration and a role model for everyone."
Mr Volkanovski's name is not only on the hoardings around the pub, he has left his mark on the food and drink as well.
With help from the team at Dusty Lizard Brewing, Mr Volkanovski has brewed his own, signature beer, and has brought in the finest cuts from Superior Meats on Addison.
"His motto is if he's having a pub, it's going to have the best pub steaks in the region," Mr Aitchison said.
Working with his wife Emma, the pair have crafted feature cocktails featuring Illawarra plum gin from Headlands Distilling.
The pub will donate $1 from each Volkanovski beer and cocktail to Shell Cove-based Kidzwish Foundation to support children with a disability or illness and their families.
Mr Volkanovski will be cooking a steak and pulling beers on March 17 to kick off the new name, with another local sporting legend said to be in attendance to sample the fare.
"I don't think a pub has ever gone to this level to support its hometown hero, and we want to put our region on the map as the kind of place that goes that extra mile in support great role models and people that do great things for the area," Mr Aitchinson said.
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