Thousands of people have gathered to pay their last respects to boxing legend Muhammad Ali who passed away at age 74 a week ago.
The two-day funeral began on Thursday at the Freedom Hall arena where Ali had some of the best bouts at the dawn of his distinguished boxing career. Some 14,000 free tickets were issued to attend the jenazah, reports Tass.
On Friday, his body will be driven across the streets of his hometown Louisville to the 22,000-seat basketball arena KFC Yum! Center, where the final public goodbye will be paid to Ali.
CNN quoted Ali’s spokesman Bob Gunnel as saying that former president Bill Clinton, longtime sportscaster Bryant Gumbel and comedian and Ali friend Billy Crystal will be among those delivering eulogies.
According to ABC News, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and King Abdullah II of Jordan are also in Louisville to pay their tribute to the world’s unmatched boxer.
Born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. in 1942 in Louisville, Kentucky, the legendary boxer converted to Islam in 1964 assuming the name of Muhammad Ali.
He first tried boxing gloves at the age of 12 and six years later he won gold at the 1960 Rome Olympics in the light heavyweight category.
Boasting a record of 56 wins and five losses including 37 knockputs, Ali, nicknamed ‘The Greatest,’ is the only boxer as of today to be named five times by respected boxing magazine The Ring as the “Fighter of the Year”.
He is also the only three-time lineal World Heavyweight Champion, having won the titles in 1964, 1974 and 1978.
He reigned as the undisputed Heavyweight World Champion between February 25 and September 19, 1964, while Sports Illustrated magazine named him “Sportsman of the Century” and BBC called him “Sports Personality of the Century”.