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Muhammad Ali's final journey: Thousands pay tribute to boxing great

Thousands pay prayerful tribute to boxing great Muhammad Ali at his Louisville hometown at his funeral

Louisville (Kentucky): A mass funeral procession for Muhammad Ali yesterday in his hometown Louisville, with a hearse carrying the boxing legend’s remains heading into the streets where thousands gathered to say goodbye. Spectators carried signs and flowers, and some even chanted the name of the three-time heavyweight world champion, who died last week at the age of 74 after a long battle with Parkinson's disease.

A fan holds a photograph of boxing legend Muhammad Ali as spectators wait for the arrival of Ali’s funeral procession to enter Cave Hill Cemetery, Kentucky yesterday. PICS: AP/PTI, AFP
A fan holds a photograph of boxing legend Muhammad Ali as spectators wait for the arrival of Ali’s funeral procession to enter Cave Hill Cemetery, Kentucky yesterday. PICS: AP/PTI, AFP

The procession started at about 10:30 am, roughly an hour behind schedule.

Actress and former wife of Ali, Veronica Porche attends his Jenazah service
Actress and former wife of Ali, Veronica Porche attends his Jenazah service

The cortege will pass by sites that were important to “The Greatest”: his childhood home, the Ali Center, the Center for African American Heritage — which focuses on the lives of blacks in Kentucky — and, of course, along Ali Boulevard before arriving at the Cave Hill Cemetery for a hero’s burial.

Ali’s daughter, Laila during the Jenazah prayer service on Thursday
Ali’s daughter, Laila during the Jenazah prayer service on Thursday

A fan watches a Muhammad Ali slide show in Kentucky yesterday
A fan watches a Muhammad Ali slide show in Kentucky yesterday

Pallbearers escort the casket of Ali during the Jenazah prayer service at Freedom Hall in Louisville, Kentucky on Thursday
Pallbearers escort the casket of Ali during the Jenazah prayer service at Freedom Hall in Louisville, Kentucky on Thursday

Turkey prez not to attend funeral

Istanbul: Turkey’s president has cut short his trip to the US and will not attend the funeral of boxer Muhammad Ali, his office said yesterday, amid reports of a rift with the ceremony’s organisers.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan had specially flown to Louisville in the southern US state of Kentucky to say farewell to Ali. Erdogan on Thursday attended a prayer ceremony for Ali and had been due to attend the funeral yesterday. But the president’s office said that Erdogan left the United States for Turkey late Thursday after attending the prayer ceremony.

The Dogan news agency quoted presidential sources as saying funeral organisers refused to allow Erdogan to lay a cloth from the Kaaba — the cube-shaped structure at the centre of Islam’s most sacred mosque — on Ali’s coffin. Erdogan and the Sunni cleric who heads Turkey’s religious affairs agency, Mehmet Gormez, had also wanted to give readings from the Koran but were not allowed to. The president’s bodyguards and US Secret Service agents also clashed briefly while he was in Louisville.

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