LOUISVILLE, Ky. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The president of Turkey and king of Jordan joined the long line of world leaders, religious figures and superstars set to speak at Muhammad Ali’s funeral Friday.
Ali family spokesman Bob Gunnell announced funeral details at a news conference Monday.
California imam and scholar Zaid Shakir will preside over the service at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville.
Speaking at the funeral will be representatives of multiple faiths, including Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Mormonism and Catholicism. They will be followed by Ali’s wife, Lonnie Ali; daughter Maryum Ali; actor Billy Crystal; sportscaster Bryant Gumbel; Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and King Abdullah II of Jordan.
President Bill Clinton will deliver a eulogy.
The Dalai Lama was invited, but sent regrets that he will be unable to attend.
The day before his star-studded funeral, members of Muhammad Ali’s Islamic faith will get their chance to say a traditional goodbye to the Champ.
Gunnell announced that a Jenazah, a traditional Muslim funeral service, will be held at Freedom Hall at noon Thursday. It will be open to all.
They chose the venue both because it seats 18,000 and because it holds historical significance for the hometown hero. Ali fought, and won, his first professional fight there in 1960.
Gunnell said Ali, who converted to the Islamic faith in the 1960s, started planning his own funeral nearly a decade ago. Gunnell said he wanted his services “to reflect his life and how he lived” with a heart open to people of all colors and creeds.
Ali was a champion fighter inside the ring, but outside he was a champion of tolerance and inclusion. Both of those themes will take center stage during the two massive public services for the three-time heavyweight champ who died Friday at age 74, CBS2’s Kenneth Craig reported.
Friend and one-time rival George Foreman told “CBS This Morning” that Ali’s power wasn’t in his punch, but his presence.
“To say he was the greatest boxer was a put-down. He was bigger than boxing, he was bigger than anything,” Foreman said.
In all, more than 30,000 members of the public will be able to attend both services, and Ali’s family says he was involved in the planning, and gave the events his blessing before he died.
Daughter, Laila Ali, says she’s grateful.
“I’m happy; he’s no longer struggling and that’s what gives me comfort so again, I’m sad he’s not here, I’m sad I can’t hug him and kiss him,” Ali said, adding there will never be any one else like him.
A private funeral will be held on Thursday before the public service on Friday.
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