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Thousands Gather for Muslim Funeral to Late Boxer Mohammed Ali in Louisville | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Boxing Legend Muhammad Ali speaks to the audience after accepting the Athlete of the Century award at the Sports Illustrated 20th Century Sports Awards at New York’s Madison Square Garden, in this December 2, 1999 file photo. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

London-Thousands of admirers of late boxer Mohammed Ali Clay attended the funeral of the heavyweight champion in his hometown of Louisville in Kentucky, United States.

An estimated 14,000 people, representing many races and religions, attended the Jenazah, or funeral in Arabic, where he was repeatedly feted as “the people’s champion.” Mourners prayed over the body of a man who battled in the ring and sought peace outside it.

Ali, a three-time heavyweight champion known for his showmanship, political activism and devotion to humanitarian causes, died on Friday of septic shock in an Arizona hospital at the age of 74.

Ali and his family planned his funeral for 10 years, making sure it would honor his Muslim faith while also adapting to the demands of Western media-driven culture.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and comedian Billy Crystal were expected to deliver speeches in honor of Ali during Friday’s event, at the KFC Yum Center.

“The passing of Muhammad Ali has made us all feel a little more alone in the world,” said Sherman Jackson, a Muslim scholar at the University of Southern California.

Jackson praised Ali for advancing the cause of black Americans during and after the civil rights movement of the 1960s.