Muhammad Ali (Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr.) was one of the greatest American boxers of all time. He was born on January 17, 1942 in Louisville, Kentucky and he died on June 3, 2016 in Scottsdale, Arizona at the age of 74.
The boxing legend’s Memorial service was held in Louisville, Kentucky. The services began in Louisville on June 9, 2016, with an Islamic Janazah prayer service at Freedom Hall on the grounds of the Kentucky Exposition Center. On June 10, 2016, the funeral procession passed through the streets of Louisville ending at Cave Hill Cemetery, where his body was interred during a private ceremony.
Muhammad Ali’s grave is marked with a simple granite marker that bears only his name. A public memorial service for Ali was held at downtown Louisville’s KFC Yum! Center during the afternoon of June 10. The pallbearers included Will Smith, Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson, with honorary pallbearers including George Chuvalo, Larry Holmes and George Foreman. Muhammad Ali’s memorial was watched by an estimated 1 billion viewers from all over the world.
Years before his death, Muhammad Ali and his innermost circle began working on a document with the exact details on how he wished to say goodbye to the world. That document grew so thick they began calling it The Book.
“The message that we’ll be sending out is not our message — this was really designed by The Champ himself,” said Timothy Gianotti, an Islamic studies scholar who for years helped to plan the services. “The love and the reverence and the inclusivity that we’re going to experience over the coming days is really a reflection of his message to the people of planet Earth.”
The 74-year-old three-time heavyweight champion wanted the memorial service in an arena. He wanted multiple religions to have a voice while honoring the traditions of his Muslim faith. And he wanted ordinary fans to attend, not just VIPs.
Actor, comedian, writer and producer, Billy Crystal was honored to eulogize the great boxer and gave a touching tribute to Muhammad Ali at his memorial service.