Muhammad Ali had made plans for his own funeral years ago, saying he wanted an open and inclusive service.
The legacy of Ali, regarded as a lot more than a world class boxer, will continue to live on. As a civil rights activist and humanitarian, Ali had a significant impact on several lives. He is counted among the most celebrated personalities in the world. Politicians, sportsmen and entertainers remember the influence Ali’s life had.
Ali stated planning his funeral “a decade ago,” spokesman Bob Gunnell said. “As he convened the meeting, he said, ‘This is what I would like to see, this is the type of program that I would like to see, that is inclusive of everyone, where we give as many people an opportunity that want to pay their respects to me.'” As reported by CNN, Ali wanted the funeral to be conducted in the Muslim tradition.
Ali had been fighting Parkinson’s for more than thirty years. Earlier this week, he was transported to a hospital in Arizona with a respiratory condition. His death was confirmed by his family on Saturday.
Ali wrote in his 2013 autobiography titled The Soul of a Butterfly: Reflections on Life’s Journey how he would like to remembered, as reported by CBS News.
“I would like to be remembered as a man who won the heavyweight title three times, who was humorous, and who treated everyone right,” Ali wrote.
“As a man who never looked down on those who looked up to him, and who helped as many people as he could. As a man who stood up for his beliefs no matter what. As a man who tried to unite all humankind through faith and love. And if all that’s too much, then I guess I’d settle for being remembered only as a great boxer who became a leader and a champion of his people. And I wouldn’t even mind if folks forgot how pretty I was.”
Several people who were asked to sign nondisclosure agreements were involved in the planning of Ali’s memorials. President Bill Clinton, actor Billy Crystal, and journalist Bryant Gumbel are among the personalities who will give eulogies.
However, the entire list of people attending the service has not been disclosed. Will Smith, who played the lead role in the film Ali, and former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis will be among the pallbearers.