Dignitaries, movie stars, fans and friends of boxing legend Muhammad Ali are expected to attend his funeral procession and private burial at the Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky on Friday, on June 10 (June 11, Manila time), CNN reported.
Actor Will Smith, who played the boxing champ in the Oscar-nominated movie “Ali” in 2001, and former heavyweight Lennox Lewis, will be two of the eight pallbearers.
Family spokesman Bob Gunnell said that they have worked out a series of events starting June 8 that would lead to the burial of Ali.
Gunnel said that they will not release a full list of guests who will attend the memorial service.
But former President Bill Clinton, actor and comedian Billy Crystal, and Bryant Gumbel are among those expected to give eulogies.
Gunnel also reveled that it was Ali who prepared the activities for his own funeral 10 years ago.
“This is what I would like to see, this is the type of program that I would like to see, that is inclusive of everyone, where we give as many people an opportunity that want to pay their respects to me,’ ” said Gunnell, as he quoted the three-time heavyweight champion.
Gunnell also said that Ali wanted the memorials to be done based on Muslim tradition. Ali, 74, died on June 4 following a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.
Gunnell said that many people in Kentucky were involved in planning for the memorials. They were also asked to sign non-disclosure agreements.
On June 8, Wednesday, the city of Louisville will sponsor the “I Am Ali” festival that will celebrate the boxer’s journey.
There will be arts, entertainment and education activities. Aside from that, “there will also be a wall where children can write what they want to be the greatest in,” CNN said.
On June 9, Thursday, a brief program of prayer dubbed jenazah will be held at the north wing of the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center.
Imam Zaid Shakir, a Muslim scholar and co-founder of Zaytuna College in Berkeley, California, will lead the short service.
“To be properly prepared for burial, prayed over and then buried is a right owed to every single Muslim. If no one fulfills those rights, then the entire community has fallen into sin. In the case of someone of Muhammad Ali’s stature, to leave any of those rights unfulfilled would be a crime,” said Shakir in a statement.
On June 10, Friday, Ali’s funeral procession will travel along the street named in his honor, Muhammad Ali Boulevard. It will past his childhood home before going to Cave Hill Cemetery, where he will be laid to rest.
City officials encourage residents to line the streets to greet the procession as it passes.
The memorial service will be the main public celebration of Ali’s life which will be held at the 22,000-seat KFC Yum! Center in Louisville on Friday afternoon.