With millions watching from around the world – and 15,000 at the KFC Yum! Center – two presidents, a comedian, clergy from four faiths and family and friends on Friday gave a final farewell to Louisville’s Muhammad Ali, the three-time heavyweight champion who was hailed as a fighter for freedom and messenger of love and peace.
President Bill Clinton saluted him as a “universal soldier for humanity.”
Billy Crystal said he was like a “Shakespeare or Mozart or Picasso, who comes along only once in a thousand years.”
And President Barack Obama, in a message delivered by a senior aide, said he “showed how a descendant of slaves could become ‘king of the world’ and help inspire a skinny kid with a funny last name to have the audacity to think he could be anything – even the president of the United States.”
The three-hour ceremony was part prayer meeting, part political rally and part comedy club.
Friend John Ramsey described how he watched with Ali at ringside during the 2000 Olympics as an American won a fight – and how Ali insisted on going to the locker room afterward to cheer up the loser… see more