MUHAMMAD Ali will be laid to rest Friday, the culmination of a two-day farewell for the beloved boxing legend and civil rights hero who electrified crowds the world over.
Thousands from near and far are expected to line the streets of Ali’s native city of Louisville in the southern US state of Kentucky to bid goodbye to the three-time heavyweight world champion who died last week at 74 after a decades-long battle with Parkinson’s.
Starting at 9 am (1300 GMT), the funeral procession will wind through the city of 600,000 where Ali was born at a time of racial segregation.
It will pass sites that were important to “The Greatest”: his childhood home, the Ali Center, the Center for African American Heritage — which focuses on the lives of blacks in Kentucky — and, of course, along Muhammad Ali Boulevard before arriving at the Cave Hill Cemetery for a private burial.
Actor Will Smith — who earned an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Ali on the silver screen — and former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis will be among the pallbearers.
An anonymous individual has pledged to cover the path to the grave with red rose petals.
Friday afternoon, Ali will be honored at an interfaith memorial service at a large sports arena that will bring together VIPs and fans alike.
Some 15,500 people are expected to attend — with free tickets snapped up in a half-hour and a black market for the coveted tickets sprouting online.