Written By: Towanna Hogue
Muhammad Ali, born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr., in Louisville, KY (January 17, 1942 – June 3, 2016) was an American gold medalist, three-time world heavyweight boxing champion, philanthropist, activist, devoted husband and father, died of complications from septic shock at the age of 74 in a hospital located in Phoenix, AZ. He also suffered from Parkinson’s disease for more than 30 years.
Muhammad Ali was not just admired for his athletic gift and buoyant personality but also for his political, religious and social stances. In 2005, Ali was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush, and in the same year the $60 million Muhammad Ali Center, a nonprofit museum and cultural center focusing on peace and social responsibility, opened in his hometown of Louisville, KY.
Dee Muldrow said, “Muhammad Ali gave us a lot of great moments in the boxing ring, but what he may be remembered for just as much is his quick wit and his biting quotes. Ali never shied away from jumping into racial issues and making his opinions known. ‘The Greatest’ was also perhaps the world’s most popular Muslim, and he never stopped defending his religion. Always, Forever “The Greatest”.
Many were in attendance to not only celebrate his life,but to honor and pay their respects to Ali as well as his family. Fifteen thousand (15,000) people attended the funeral and over 100,000 people turned out for the funeral procession. The actual memorial service was about three hours long, and was held at the ‘KFC Yum Center’ in downtown Louisville, KY. Bob Gunnell, a family spokesperson said, “Muhammad wanted this to be a free event, an event that was open to all.”
Muhammad Ali’s current wife Lonnie Ali said in one of many eulogies, “Muhammad indicated that when the end came for him, he wanted to use his life and his death as a teaching moment. He wanted to remind people who are suffering that he had seen the face of injustice. He never became bitter enough to quit or engage in violence.”
Ali’s children were in attendance; Laila Ali, Rasheda Ali, Hana Ali, Maryum Ali, Jamillah Ali, Khaliah Ali, Muhammad Ali Jr., Miya Ali and Asaad Ali. Will Smith, Lennox Lewis, and Mike Tyson were pallbearers. In attendance were Spike Lee, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ambassador Shabazz, Whoopi Goldberg, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Sugar Ray Leonard, Evander Holyfield, David Beckham, Don King, Bernard Hopkins, Former NBA coach Pat Riley, and Martin Luther King III. Bryant Gumbel, comedian Billy Crystal and former President Bill Clinton gave a eulogy. Bill Clinton actually gave the final speech, where he talked about Muhammad Ali lighting the Olympic torch in Atlanta in 1996.
For full article, pick-up the latest issue of ONYX Magazine