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Lennox Lewis, Will Smith Will Be Pallbearers at Ali's Funeral

Former world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis will be a pallbearer at Muhammad Ali's funeral, along with Hollywood star Will Smith.

The funeral is to be held in his hometown of Louisville at 2pm local time on Friday.

Lewis, who reigned as undisputed world heavyweight champion after beating Evander Holyfield in 1999, was on Monday night named as a pallbearer - as was Smith, who was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Ali in the 2001 film of the same name.

The other pallbearers will be Jerry Ellis - the brother of Jimmy Ellis, Ali's former sparring partner and fellow world heavyweight champion - and Ali's cousins John Grady and Jan Wadell, nephew Ibn Ali, former brother-in-law Komawi Ali and family friend John Ramsey.

Ali, formerly named Cassius Clay, died in Phoenix, Arizona, at the age of 74 on Friday evening local time. He had been admitted to hospital earlier in the week with a respiratory condition having suffered with Parkinson's disease for 32 years. His family said in a statement that he died from complications related to his condition.

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The memorial service, at the KFC YUM! Centre in the Kentucky city, will be open to the public and streamed live on the internet for those unable to attend.

It will be preceded by a Jenazah - an Islamic funeral prayer programme - also for the public at midday on Thursday at the Freedom Hall, where Ali made his professional debut with victory over Tunney Hunsaker in 1960 and fought for the last time in Louisville against Willi Besmanoff a year later.

Among the speakers at "The Greatest's" funeral will be Malcolm X's daughter Attalah Shabazz, wife Lonnie Ali, eldest daughter Maryum, American actor Billy Crystal, former US president Bill Clinton and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the president of Turkey.

"Everything that we're doing here was blessed by Muhammad Ali, and was requested," said family spokesman Bob Gunnell, who broke the news of the former world heavyweight champion's death.

"He wanted the memorial service to reflect his life, and how he lived. He wanted everyone to be able to attend. He was the people's champ, and he wanted the memorial service to reflect that.

"We want this to be inclusive of everyone. That's why we set Freedom Hall - not just with its historical significance but with the size of Freedom Hall, so that everyone fits in.

"That Muslims and people of all faiths could attend, and perhaps learn more and be like Muhammad Ali, and open their hearts to everybody.

"This is not a political statement, this is not about politics, this is about how Muhammad Ali lived his life."

Since Ali's death, tributes have been as widespread as they have been heartfelt, with one-time rival George Foreman and long-term friend and business manager Gene Kilroy among those to tell Press Association Sport of their sense of loss.

"Each time one of us leaves, I tell everybody: Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, we were really just one guy," Foreman said. "And every time one slips away, you feel like you've lost a piece, and Muhammad Ali was the greatest piece of all."

Tags: Muhammad Ali image  
User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by LacedUp on 06-07-2016

I guess what was said about Rahman Ali was true then. Sad.

Comment by Kris Silver on 06-07-2016

God were like the gossiping folk at the back of a funeral here “Why is so and so a pall bearer, mahamamamaa”. None of our business fella’s, we don’t own Ali or any input. His family would have either directly…

Comment by Weltschmerz on 06-07-2016

[QUOTE=deathofaclown;16769965]Haha that actually went through my mind. When my old man died, we had to think of a good excuse as to why his friend couldn't be one. Me and the others doing it were about 6'1 roughly and his…

Comment by deathofaclown on 06-07-2016

[QUOTE=Weltschmerz;16769946]This is not meant as a joke but maybe Tyson is too short.[/QUOTE] Haha that actually went through my mind. When my old man died, we had to think of a good excuse as to why his friend couldn't be…

Comment by Weltschmerz on 06-06-2016

[QUOTE=deathofaclown;16769521]I was wondering that too. If i was going to think of any fighter of the last 20/30 years that it would be, i'd have thought Tyson. Ali and Tyson seemed to get along and in the very few interviews…

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