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MOSCOW, June 10. /TASS/. Thousands of people flock to the city of Louisville in the US state of Kentucky to pay their last respects to the world’s greatest boxer Muhammad Ali, who passed away at the age of 74 a week ago, according to US media reports.
The two-day funeral of the boxer began on Thursday at the Freedom Hall arena, where Ali had some of the best bouts at the dawn of his distinguished boxing career. Some 14,000 free tickets were issued on to attend the jenazah, which is Muslim funeral prayer.
On Friday, his body will be driven across the streets of his hometown Louisville to the 22,000-seat basketball arena ‘Yum! Center,’ where the final public goodbye will be paid to Ali at 2:00 p.m. local time.
CNN reported citing Ali’s spokesman Bob Gunnel that "Former President Bill Clinton, longtime sportscaster Bryant Gumbel and comedian and close Ali friend Billy Crystal will be among those delivering eulogies."
"The eight pallbearers include Will Smith, who played Ali in the biopic "Ali," and former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis, along with family friends and relatives," according to CNN reports.
According to ABCNews, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and King Abdullah II of Jordan are also in Louisville to pay their last tribute to the world’s unmatched boxer.
Born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. in 1942 in Louisville, Kentucky, the legendary boxer converted to Islam in 1964 assuming the name of Muhammad Ali.
He first tried boxing gloves at the age of 12 and six years later he won the gold of the 1960 Olympics in Rome in the light heavyweight category.
Boasting a record of W56-L5, 37 KOs, Ali, nicknamed ‘The Greatest,’ is the only boxer as of today to be named five times by respected boxing magazine The Ring as the Fighter of the Year. He is also the only three-time lineal World Heavyweight Champion having won the titles in 1964, 1974 and 1978.
He reigned as the undisputed Heavyweight World Champion between February 25, 1964 and September 19, 1964, while Sports Illustrated magazine named him ‘Sportsman of the Century’ and BBC named him ‘Sports Personality of the Century.’.