MUHAMMAD Ali made his final journey through his home town in a funeral procession as thousands of mourners lined the streets where the future heavyweight champion of the world once chased school buses in hiking boots to train for his fights.
His cherry-red coffin, draped in an Islamic shroud, was loaded into a hearse as a group of pallbearers including former boxers Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis and actor Will Smith left the funeral home in a double file.
Ali’s nine children, wife, two ex-wives and other family members joined the motorcade.
The 17-car procession set out for a Louisville cemetery on a 19-mile route expected to take Ali’s body past his boyhood home, the gym where he learned to box and the museum that bears his name, by way of Muhammad Ali Boulevard.
He was laid to be rest under a headstone inscribed simply “Ali”, in a private graveside ceremony, followed by a memorial service attended by more than 15,000 people, including former president Bill Clinton and comedian Billy Crystal.
Ali, the most magnetic and controversial athlete of the 20th century, died last Friday at 74 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. A traditional Muslim funeral service was held on Thursday, with about 6,000 admirers from all over the world.
Tyson was added at the last moment to the list of pallbearers. Rumours that Donald Trump would attend were quashed when the Republican presidential candidate reportedly called Ali’s wife Lonnie to inform her he was unable to make it.
President Barack Obama was unable to make the trip because his daughter Malia was graduating from high school.