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World Pays Tribute to Muhammed Ali | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Pallbearers escort the casket of the boxing legend Muhammad Ali during the Jenazah prayer service at the Freedom Hall in Thursday in Louisville, Kentucky. AFP

London – Thousands gathered as boxing legend Muhammed Ali is laid to rest in his hometown in Louisville, Kentucky. Ali died last week at the age of 74.

Muhammed Ali returned an emperor to the town he grew in, where black people were banned from attending public places.

The funeral procession started, 10:30 AM, amid thousands of attendees, some of which came from Asia or Africa, as they lined the streets and threw flowers on the coffin as in walked down Muhammed Ali Boulevard. The funeral passed by his childhood house, Muhammad Ali Center, and the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage.

The interfaith ceremony started with funeral prayer for the three-times heavyweight champion; non – Muslims were asked to pray each according to his own faith.

A number of presidents, officials and personnel attended the memorial at Freedom Hall. Free tickets to attend the funeral at the sports center were out.

After that, a private burial ceremony for the hero started with his children and family members. The casket was carried by actor Will Smith, former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis, and six other people.
Smith played the champion in 2001 film “Ali” and was nominated for Academy Award for Best Actor for his role.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan cut his trip short and didn’t attend the final ceremony in Louisville because of the way the organizers treated him. Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily News reported sources in the presidency office saying that Erdogan was not allowed to put a piece of Kaabah’s Kiswah on the coffin.

Dogan News Agency hinted to a possible disagreement between Erdogan’s bodyguards and U.S. security.
A local taxi driver Fred Delon said: “My hero was imprisoned by his body,” because Muhammed was suffering from debilitating Parkinson’s disease for three decades. Delon concluded: “Now he can truly fly like a butterfly.”