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Muhammad Ali’s body arrives in his hometown, funeral to be watched worldwide by billions

Muhammad Ali’s body arrives in his hometown, funeral to be watched worldwide by billions

Washington: The body of legendary boxer Mohammad Ali  arrived in his hometown Louisville in Kentucky on Sunday, where a public procession and memorial service will be held on Friday.

The memorial service of Ali, born Cassius Marcellus Clay, will be followed by a private funeral where former US president Bill Clinton will participate, Efe news reported.

The final journey will be witnessed by worldwide audience of billions, making it one of the biggest events in TV history.

According to Ali’s beliefs, his burial will be led by an imam and conducted under Muslim rites.

“Following his wishes, his funeral will reflect those principles and be a celebration open to everyone. Lonnie (his wife) and the entire Ali family invite everyone to join them for the celebration in Muhammad’s home town of Louisville, Kentucky,” Family spokesman Bob Gunnell said.

“The service, the funeral plans were done years ago by Mr Ali who discussed them personally. All family members were having a tough time,” he said.

The burial ceremony will be private with the sole participation of his family, former US President Bill Clinton, comedian Billy Crystal and journalist Bryant Gumbel, the spokesman detailed.

Family and close friends will bid farewell to the legend in a private ceremony on Thursday in Louisville, said family spokesman Bob Gunnel on Saturday.

“Muhammad’s extraordinary boxing career only encompasses half his life. The other half was committed to carrying a message of peace and inclusion to the world. Following his wishes, his funeral will reflect those principals and will be a celebration open to everyone,” spokesman Bob Gunnell said Saturday.

On Friday, a procession bearing the body of the triple world boxing champion will be marched through the streets of Louisville, first around the museum and cultural centre of Ali and later through the boulevard that bears his name and then to the Cave Hill cemetery.

Ali converted to Islam and was a member of the religious organisation the ‘Nation of Islam’, like Malcolm X, symbol of the most radical civil rights movement in the 60s.

Ali, who had battled Parkinson’s disease for 32 years, died in Phoenix, Arizona, on Friday evening after being admitted to hospital with a respiratory condition on Monday.