By Lee Kainoelani
By Lee Kainoelani
Rabat – Boxing legend, Muhammed Ali, has been laid to rest in his hometown in the state of Kentucky, U.S.A., according to Al Jazeera.
Ali died last week at the age of 74. The funeral procession followed was attended by tens of thousands of fans. At least 100,000 people lined the streets to say their final goodbyes to Ali, according to the Associated Press.
Ali’s private burial ceremony, on Friday at Louisville’s Cave Hill Cemetery, was followed by a memorial. Many world leaders attended the private burial, including former US president Bill Clinton.
As the interfaith service went about, a crowd of up to 15,000 people burst into applause, chanting, “Ali! Ali!” when a Muslim religious leader welcomed the audience to “the home of the people’s champ”.
In his tribute, Clinton said Ali “is truly a free man of faith”.
Lonnie Ali, widow of the legend, said her husband was “proof that adversity can make you stronger”, growing up in a segregated country.
Pastor of a Louisville church, Kevin Cosby, said Ali “dared to love America’s most unloved race”, referring to African-Americans.
People lined the streets, throwing flowers, and shouting, “Ali! Ali!”, as the hearse carrying his body left the funeral home, while others carried banners and photos of Ali.
Lawrence Montgomery, a former neighbor of Ali, said that he has “mixed emotions”, knowing that Ali, who was suffering from the debilitating Parkinson’s disease for decades, is no longer in pain, according to Al Jazeera.
“He was a marvelous young man. Very cordial and playful,” Montgomery said, recalling that as a child Ali already wanted to be a boxer.
The funeral procession took place on Muhammed Ali Boulevard, and ended with a private burial ceremony before the public memorial service at the KFC Yum! Center, a sports arena in Louisville, Kentucky.
Actor Will Smith, who played the three-time heavyweight world champion in the film “Ali”, helped carry the coffin with former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis, and family members.
US President Barack Obama was not able to attend the memorial service because of his daughter’s high school graduation, but one of his closest aides, Valerie Jarrett, read a letter on his behalf.
Many prominent leaders, including King Abdullah II of Jordan, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and International Olympic Committee President, Thomas Bach were expected to be in attendance on Friday. Former Ali opponents George Foreman and Larry Holmes were also expected to be in attendance.
A Muslim prayer service in Louisville was held on Thursday, drawing thousands of mourners, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Ali joined the Nation of Islam sect in 1964, changing his name from Cassius Clay to Muhammed Ali. He later left that sect to practice Sunni Islam.