Mourners pack Kentucky Expo Center for Muhammad Ali prayer service
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Thousands of mourners, including celebrities and public figures, filed into the Kentucky Exposition Center on Thursday for Muhammad Ali's Janazah.
Approximately 14,000 people were expected to attend the Islamic prayer service for the boxing titan and humanitarian who died Friday of septic shock at age 74.
Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson and boxing promoter Don King were among the early arrivals at the Expo Center, along with members of the public at large.
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Imam Zaid Shakir led the service, which featured several speakers who delivered prayers and heartfelt remembrances of the man who many have said was the most recognized person on the planet.
Islamic scholar and professor of religion Dr. Sherman Jackson directed some of his comments to those closest to Ali.
"May part of your solace come from the fact that you ultimately recognize that your sense of loss is only so great because God's gift to you, in the form of Muhammad Ali, was himself so singular and so magnificent," Jackson said.
The ticketed event took place in the North Wing of the Kentucky Exposition Center. An overflow of attendees watched the service on big screen monitors in the Expo Center's Freedom Hall, where the former heavyweight champion boxed in many fights during his career.
"Muhammad Ali put the question as to whether you could be a Muslim and an American to rest," Jackson said. "Let us hope that that question is interred with his remains."
Earlier on Thursday, Ali's casket was moved from A.D. Porter & Sons Funeral Home on Bardstown Road in Louisville to the Expo Center where it was on display during the Janazah. Ali's body will not be present for Friday's memorial service at KFC Yum! Center at Second and Main Streets.
"I must bid you farewell," Jackson said. "So I say to you, 'So long, my illustrious champion.'"
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