Rousing memorial rite as thousands
say final goodbye to Muhammad Ali

June 11 2016 11:56 AM

Thousands of people in Louisville, Kentucky bid their final goodbye to boxing legend Muhammad Ali who was laid to rest in his hometown on Friday, June 10.

Mourners who lined the streets chanted and threw flowers during the more than three-hour funeral procession of the “people’s champion” who was later buried at the Cave Hill Cemetery, ABC News reported.

The procession passed by Ali’s childhood home on the West End, and the Muhammad Ali Center, a museum in the center, which is also home to the Kentucky Derby.

Among the pallbearers of the three-time heavyweight champion were actor-singer Will Smith, who won an Oscar nomination for the movie “Ali,” and world heavyweight champions Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis.

After the private burial, a public memorial service was held at KFC Yum Centre that featured eulogies from former President Bill Clinton and actor Billy Crystal.

Ali, the most magnetic and one of the controversial athletes of the 20th century, died of septic shock in a hospital in Arizona last June 3, 2016. He was 74.

In a eulogy, President Bill Clinton said he wept “like a baby” while watching Ali take the final steps to light the Olympic cauldron in 1996 in Atlanta, during his presidency, ABC News said.

Clinton also recalled a time when he caught Ali holding two fingers behind his head to form the shape of bunny ears. “I was trying to be dignified.”

Crystal remembered the first time he met Ali in 1974, when he was just a stand-up comedian.

After the show, in which he imitated Ali, the boxer approached him and gave him a “big hug,” Crystal said.

“You’re my little brother,” Crystal said the boxer told him. Since then, Ali called him “little brother,” ABC News reported.

Lonnie, wife of Ali, recalled a story about a white Louisville police officer who helped a 12-year-old Cassius Clay when his bike was stolen.

“America must never forget when a cop and an inner city [kid] talk to each other, then miracles can happen,” said Lonnie said, who received a standing ovation from the crowd, ABC News said.

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