IOC President Heads to Muhammad Ali Funeral

(ATR) Thomas Bach will pay tribute to fellow Olympic gold medalist Muhammad Ali, joined by IOC colleagues in the U.S.

UNITED STATES - AUGUST 03:  OLYMPISCGE SPIELE: ATLANTA 1996 am 3.8.96, Muhammad ALI mit der GOLDMEDAILLE von 1960  (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 03: OLYMPISCGE SPIELE: ATLANTA 1996 am 3.8.96, Muhammad ALI mit der GOLDMEDAILLE von 1960 (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)

(ATR) Thomas Bach is one of the many high-profile guests who will attend the funeral ceremony of Muhammad Ali in Louisville, Kentucky this Friday.

The ceremony to honor the three-time heavyweight champion will be held at the KFC YUM! Center at 2:00 pm and will also be streamed online at alicenter.org. The procession throughout the streets of his hometown will begin at 9:00 am. At capacity the arena can hold more than 20,000.

An Olympic champion at the 1960 Summer Games in Rome and one of the most controversial and influential social activists of his time, Ali will be honored by foreign dignitaries and past Presidents at the service that could last for hours.

U.S. IOC members Anita DeFrantz and Larry Probst, who's also president of the U.S. Olympic Committee will join the IOC president at the memorial. Other IOC members and Olympic officials could also attend.

A delegation from Rome, where Ali won his gold medal, includes Nino Benvenuti, the middleweight boxing gold medal winner in 1960.

Turkish President Recep Erdogan and King Abdullah II of Jordan are among the foreign dignitaries expected to attend the ceremony as well as the IOC president. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, sports journalist Bryant Gumbel, comedian Billy Crystal and Ali’s wife Lonnie are among those who will deliver eulogies at the ceremony.

A prayer ceremony will be held on Thursday at Freedom Hall starting at midday with as many as 18,000 expected in the arena that was the venue for Ali's last fight in Louisville,Nov. 29, 1961, about against Willi Besmanoff.

"Everything that we're doing here was blessed by Muhammad Ali and requested," a spokesperson for the Ali family Bob Gunnell said.

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

Written by Kevin Nutley

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