World Bulletin / News Desk
A funeral procession for Muhammad Ali began in his hometown here Friday on the final day of services for the legendary activist and boxer.
The procession travelled through the city’s center on a 18-mile (30-kilometer) route, taking Ali’s body and more than a dozen accompanying vehicles to the street named after him, a museum that stands as a tribute to his sports and humanitarian accomplishments and to his childhood home.
Crowds had lined up Louisville streets and rooftops along a section of interstate to watch the procession, estimated to take 90 minutes to complete.
Will Smith, who played Ali in the 2001 eponymous biopic drama, and former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis was among the pallbearers, according to the family.
The casket was taken to the Cave Hill Cemetery where Muhammad Ali was laid to rest in a private ceremony.
Gunnell told The Associated Press that Tyson was not sure he would attend the memorial service because he was very emotional upon learning of Ali's death and was not sure if he could contain his emotions.
Fans chanted “Ali, Ali” and some wept as the procession entered the cemetery.
With the graveside service complete, crowds have now gathered at the Kentucky Yum! Center, where an interfaith service is set to honor the legend.
Ali began preparing the details of his own funeral service a decade ago, said family spokesman Bob Gunnell, and the plans were made public in advance.
In accordance with Ali’s wishes, organizers distributed thousands of free tickets to the service that can be viewed online at alicenter.org.
Nearly 15,000 are expected to attend the service that will include eulogies by comedian Billy Crystal, sportscaster Bryant Gumbel and family members. Ali’s wife, Lonnie, who was married to the champ for 30 years and at the time of his death, will also deliver remarks.
Ali died last Friday after decades of a very public fight against Parkinson’s disease. He was 74.
At approxicmately 3.00pm, the congregation was asked to rise as Ali’s family entered the room. Outside, Louisville police estimate that more than 100,000 people turned out for the funeral procession. Just after half an hour, a recitation from the Koran by Imam Hamzah Abdul Malik was read in accordance with the dear Ali’s wishes before the ceremony began with the speakers including former President Bill Clinton.
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