Muhammad Ali's funeral set for Friday
Muhammad Ali's funeral will be held on Friday in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, and will be preceded by a public procession.
Bob Gunnell, a spokesman for Ali's family, announced the funeral arrangements on Saturday afternoon, less than 24 hours after the three-time heavyweight boxing champion and sports icon died at the age of 74.
Gunnell said Ali died at 12:10 a.m. ET on Saturday from septic shock due to unspecified natural causes. Ali spent the last hour of his life surrounded by his
family after initially being hospitalised in the Phoenix area on Monday.
The family "certainly believes that Muhammad was a citizen of the world ... and they know that the world grieves with him,'' Gunnell said.
A procession, starting at 9 a.m. ET on Friday, will carry Ali's body down an avenue 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.
After the procession, a memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET at the KFC Yum! Centre and will also be open to the public. Eulogies will be given by former President Bill Clinton, Bryant Gumbel and Billy Crystal, who famously has done a masterful impression of Ali.
The ceremony will be led by an imam in the Muslim tradition but will include representatives of other faiths. Utah Senator Orrin Hatch will represent 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.''
Gunnell said Ali "did not suffer" in the hours prior to his death and described Ali's final moments with his family as "solemn" but "beautiful".