Ali coming home as 'citizen' of world
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP):
Muhammad Ali crafted the plan for his final tribute years ago, long before he died. On Friday, his family will honour him, just like he planned, with a global celebration in his hometown.
A procession will carry his body down an avenue in Louisville that bears his name, through his boyhood neighbourhood and down Broadway, the scene of the parade that honoured the brash young man - then known as Cassius Clay - for his gold medal at the 1960 Olympics.
A day after Ali died at age 74 from complications of Parkinson's disease, a family spokesman outlined plans for Ali's funeral as people from Manila to Louisville to his adopted home of Arizona mourned the boxing great's passing.
The family "certainly believes that Muhammad was a citizen of the world ... and they know that the world grieves with him", spokesman Bob Gunnell said at a news conference in Scottsdale, not far from Ali's home in his final years.
Family members will accompany Ali's remains to Louisville within the next two days. A private funeral will be held on Thursday.
After the Friday procession, a memorial service, which is open to the public, will be held. Eulogists will include former President Bill Clinton, comedian Billy Crystal - who has done a masterful impression of Ali and sports television host Bryant Gumbel.
The ceremony will be led by an imam in the Muslim tradition, but includes representatives of other faiths. Utah Senator Orrin Hatch will represent the Mormons.
"Muhammad Ali was clearly the people's champion," Gunnell said, "and the celebration will reflect his devotion to people of all races, religions and backgrounds."