Thousands line route to bid farewell to the ‘greatest boxing champion’


Thousands of people on Friday cheered and threw roses in the streets of the Muhammad Ali’s hometown Louisville as they bid farewell to the boxing legend and civil rights hero known as “The Greatest.”

A mass funeral procession, according to AFP, a private burial and public memorial service will wrap up two days of tributes to the three-time heavyweight world champion, who died last week at 74 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.

According to BBC, the onlookers cheered his cortege as it passed by on its way to a city cemetery where he was then buried in a private service for family and friends.
The ex-heavyweight champion and rights activist died last Friday aged 74.

An interfaith memorial service for the boxer is now being held at a major sports centre.

Former President Bill Clinton is to deliver one of the eulogies.

For more than two hours, the funeral procession moved slowly through the city of 600,000 in the southern US state of Kentucky where Ali was born at a time of racial segregation.

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

Fans were in a festive mood — taking photos, cheering, applauding and chanting Ali’s name in the bright sunshine as they lined a route through the streets of Louisville, Kentucky’s biggest city, that stretched about 18 miles (30 kilometers).

Spectators threw red roses and other flowers onto the hearse carrying Ali’s remains, blocking much of its windshield by the end of the procession. About 20 limousines transporting Ali’s family and close friends followed in the cortege.

Police officers jogged alongside the hearse as it passed Ali’s boyhood home, to keep the large crowd out of the street.

“The kids love him, he’s always stood for hope in this neighborhood,” Toya Johnson, who wore an Ali T-shirt, told news agency AFP.

(Inputs from BBC and AFP, Photo: Reuters)