Columbia Pictures/Getty Images(LOUISVILLE, Ky.) — Muhammad Ali’s body was returned on Sunday to his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, where the legendary boxer and humanitarian will be laid to rest and honored in a traditional Muslim funeral on Thursday and an inter-faith service on Friday, a family spokesperson announced Monday.
World political and religious leaders come together to remember “The Greatest.”
World political and religious leaders have set aside differences and come together to pay respects to Ali at his funeral, a true testament even after his death to how the “People’s Champion” lived his life.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and King Abdullah II of Jordan, as well as former U.S. President Bill Clinton are expected to speak at the service, held at the KFC Yum! Center, this Friday at 2 p.m., Ali family spokesperson Bob Gunnell said during a news conference Monday.
Representatives from multiple religions, including Islam, Christianity, Catholicism, Judaism, Mormonism and Buddhism will also be present.
“The service will be open to the public and those who can’t attend can view a live stream at alicenter.org,” Gunnell added.
Ali’s wife, Lonnie Ali, and his daughter, Maryum Ali, will also speak at the funeral, in addition to actor Billy Crystal, sportscaster Bryant Gumbel, and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.
The Yum! Center can accommodate a crowd of 15,500, and a media briefing Monday at 5:30 p.m. will announce how the public can obtain tickets, Gunnell said.
A Traditional Muslim Jenazah to Take Place Thursday
In addition to the inter-faith funeral service on Friday, a traditional Muslim Jenazah will be held at Louisville’s Freedom Hall on Thursday, Gunnell announced.
Freedom Hall is the location of Ali’s last fight in Louisville on Nov. 29, 1961.
People of all faiths are welcome to attend the Jenazah at Freedom Hall, which can seat up to 18,000 people, Gunnell said.
Imam Zaid Shakir, who will preside over Friday’s service, explained the significance of Thursday’s Jenazah.
“The Jenazah prayer, or funeral prayer, is an obligation that the Muslim community in its entirety owes to any deceased individual from the community,” Shakir said.
Procession to Take Place Through Ali’s Hometown
In addition to the two services, there will be a procession through the streets of Louisville on Friday, according to the Ali Center website.
“In addition to the funeral, there will be a procession throughout Louisville to allow the general public to pay their last respect to the ‘Greatest of All Time.'” The Ali Center website states, “the procession will travel northbound on Bardstown Road, westbound on the Watterson Expressway, and then north on I-65 to westbound I-64 (exiting 9th Street ramp). Then traveling west on Muhammad Ali Blvd. to 34th Street, left on 34th Street to Broadway, making a left on Broadway and then traveling to Cave Hill Cemetery. The route includes locations that were historically important to Muhammad.”
Since Ali’s death of natural causes on Friday evening, an outpouring of goodwill towards “The Greatest,” a man who united many across cultural, religious, and political barriers has emerged.
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama also expressed their mourning at his passing.
“Muhammad Ali was The Greatest. Period. If you just asked him, he’d tell you. He’d tell you he was the double greatest; that he’d ‘handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder into jail,'” the president and first lady said in a statement on Saturday. “Like everyone else on the planet, Michelle and I mourn his passing. But we’re also grateful to God for how fortunate we are to have known him, if just for a while; for how fortunate we all are that The Greatest chose to grace our time.”
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