Muhammad Ali’s widow speaks at funeral
Muhammad Ali wanted his death to be a "teaching moment".
The boxing legend died from septic shock on June 3 after a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease, and at his public memorial service on Friday (06.10.16), his widow Lonnie Ali spoke of how he was prepared to sacrifice all he had to follow his soul.
She told mourners at the KFC Yum! Center in Kentucky: "Muhammad indicated that when the end came for him, he wanted to use his life and his death as a teaching moment. He wanted to remind people who are suffering that he had seen the face of injustice
"Even in death, Mohammad has something to say. It is far more difficult to sacrifice one’s self in search of peace than to take up arms."
During her speech, Lonnie also spoke of how her husband got into boxing when he was 12 after he told a policeman, Joe E. Martin he was going to "whip" the person who had stolen his bike, prompting the officer to tell him to learn to box first.
She added: "[The cop] handed him the keys to a future in boxing he could have scarcely imagined
"America must never forget that when a cop and an inner-city kid talk to each other, then miracles can happen."
After Lonnie spoke, two of her husband’s children followed her onto the stage, with his eldest daughter Maryum reciting a poem, and third child Rasheda urging him to "fly butterly, fly" as she spoke of his influence on both his family and the wider world.
She said: "You have inspired us and the world to be the best version of ourselves. May you live in paradise free from suffering. You shook up the world in life now you’re shaking up the world in death.
"Now you are free to be with your creator. We love you so much Daddy. Until we meet again, fly butterfly, fly."
The multi-faith ceremony – which was planned according to Muhammad’s wishes – began when Hamza Abdul Malik gave a reading from the Quran.
Rabbis Michael Lerner and Joe Rapport gave addresses and Venerable Utsumi and Sister Denise performed a Buddhist chant.
Ambassador Shabazz – the daughter of civil rights activist Malcolm X – wept during her speech as the audience applauded her words.
She said: "We all have the same god, we just serve him differently – rivers, lakes, ponds, streams, oceans all have different names but they all contain water.
"So do religions have different names, and yet they all contain truth.
"It doesn’t matter whether you’re Muslim, Christian or a Jew – when you believe in god, you should believe all people are part of one family."
Those in attendance at the service include Arnold Schwarzenegger, Yusuf Islam – who was previously known as Cat Stevens – former US President Bill Clinton, Will Smith, Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson.