Muhammad Ali funeral procession begins

AFP , Friday 10 Jun 2016

Muhammad Ali
Boxing legend Muhammad Ali died at age 74 after health problems complicated by a long battle with Parkinson's disease (Photo: AFP)

A mass funeral procession for Muhammad Ali began Friday in his hometown Louisville, with a hearse carrying the boxing legend's remains heading into the streets where thousands gathered to say goodbye.

Spectators carried signs and flowers, and some even chanted the name of the three-time heavyweight world champion, who died last week at the age of 74 after a long battle with Parkinson's disease.

The procession started at about 10:30 am (1430 GMT), roughly an hour behind schedule.

The cortege will pass by 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 hero's burial.

Many of those lining the 18-mile (30-kilometer) route took photos of the hearse and limousines carrying Ali's relatives and close friends.

Toya Johnson wore an "Ali" T-shirt and was waiting close to her hero's boyhood home to see him one last time.

"He would have loved people to gather like this, so we do it. I came at 7:00 am to be sure to get a spot for my chair in the shade," Johnson told AFP.

"The kids love him, he's always stood for hope in this neighborhood. For the youth here, he is an example, and this (example) is not over!"

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