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Thousands of people attend funeral of Muhammad Ali

11 June 2016 11:56


Thousands of people have gathered in Louisville, Kentucky, in the US to attend the funeral of African American boxing legend Muhammad Ali.

A funeral vehicle embarked on a route through Louisville that would carry Ali’s body past landmarks such as his boyhood home on the West End, traditionally an African-American section of town, and the Muhammad Ali Center, a museum in the center of the city.

Thousands of people were later expected to fill the KFC Yum Center for a memorial featuring eulogies by former US President Bill Clinton and comedian Billy Crystal.

Ali, who converted to Islam in 1960 at the age of 18, died a week ago at age 74 as one of the most respected men in the United States.

Ali, one of the most celebrated athletes of the twentieth century, lost three years of his boxing career for refusing US military service during the Vietnam War.

He had millions of admirers around the world for advocating racial equality and for his defense of Islam.

A three-time world heavyweight champion, he was a role model for African Americans as well as American Muslims.

Pallbearers escort the casket of boxing legend Muhammad Ali during the funereal prayer service at Freedom Hall on June 9, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. (AFP photo)

Generally referred to as one of the greatest boxing heavyweights of all time, Ali was known for his highly unusual fighting style which involved dazzling speed, lightning-fast reflexes and constant movement around his opponents.

In 1967, Ali refused to be inducted into the US military, citing his religious beliefs and opposition to American involvement in the Vietnam War. He was immediately stripped of his heavyweight title.

Ali was equally powerful outside the ring as well, becoming a civil rights icon of the 20th-century.

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