Thousands Line The Streets For Muhammad Ali’s Funeral

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Update: Thousands of people lined the streets of Louisville, KY to watch Muhammad Ali’s funeral procession through his hometown. The procession spent over an hour going past sites integral to Ali’s life, including his childhood home, his gym, and the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage. Along the route, people threw flowers on the windshield of the hearse, and held signs memorializing Ali. Mourners also chanted his famous slogan, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” The famous athlete and activist, who passed away on June 3, had requested that his funeral service be a “teaching moment,” according to the BBC. The funeral events began with a Muslim prayer service attended by over 10,000 people. The services continue this afternoon with a 3 p.m. memorial service held in the KFC Yum! Center.

This story was originally published on June 6, 2016.
Muhammad Ali’s passing at 74 sparked a widespread outpouring of grief and sentiment recognizing him for his athletic and social achievements. Now, his memorial service has been announced. Ali will be honored in an Islamic funeral prayer program held on Thursday, June 9, at Freedom Hall in Louisville, Kentucky. Freedom hall was the venue for Ali’s first professional fight, a six-round decision against Tunney Hunsaker in 1960. Louisville was Ali’s hometown. 14,000 tickets are available for the ceremony, which is faith-inclusive. “To be properly prepared for burial, prayed over and then buried is a right owed to every single Muslim,” Imam Zaid Shakir, who is slated to preside over the ceremony, said in a statement. “In the case of someone of Muhammad Ali’s stature, to leave any of those rights unfulfilled would be a crime.” Ali’s funeral will occur the following day at another ceremony at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville. That ceremony will be much more interfaith, as it will include representatives from Protestant, Catholic, Buddhist, Mormon, and Jewish faiths. Billy Crystal and Bill Clinton, among Ali’s close friends, will speak at the ceremony, which will also include poetry and and eulogies from other friends and family. Other speakers include Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and King Abdullah II of Jordan. Will Smith, who played Ali in Ali, will be among the pallbearers. That ceremony is also open to the public, with 22,000 tickets available at the box office starting Wednesday. For those unable to attend, the Muhammad Ali Center will stream the ceremony live on their website.

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