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Summary

  1. A memorial event for Muhammad Ali has been held in Louisville, Kentucky
  2. The heavyweight boxing champion and civil rights activist died last week aged 74
  3. Earlier, Ali's body made its final journey through the streets of his home city
  4. Thousands lined the streets to cheer on the cortege and throw flowers on to the cars
  5. Ali was buried in a private ceremony attended by friends and family

Live Reporting

By Courtney Subramanian

All times stated are UK

Live coverage ends

That brings to an end our live coverage of the memorial service for Muhammad Ali. Thank you for reading and goodbye.

Muhammad Ali
AP

Final prayers for Muhammad Ali

The imam
APTN

Imam Zaid Shakir has said a final prayer for Muhammad Ali, bringing the memorial event to a close.  

Final prayers....which is a poem about Ali from the Imam.

2nd part of the poem by the Imam in the style of Ali

And that's it from the Yum centre, a beautiful and fitting ceremony. #AliFuneral

'A truly free man of faith' - Bill Clinton on Ali

"It is the choices Muhammad Ali made that have brought us all here today," Bill Clinton at the memorial service

"It is the choices Muhammad Ali made that have brought us all here today," Bill Clinton at the memorial service

Former US President Bill Clinton described Ali as a "truly free man of faith" who "realised he would never be in full control of his life".

A universal soldier for common humanity, I will always think of Ali as a true man of faith.

Refused to be imprisoned by a disease that kept him longer than Nelson Mandela in South Africa.

Mr Clinton said he had "thrilled at" Ali the boxer as a young man and "wept like a baby" as President seeing Ali's hand shake as he lit the Olympic flame in Atlanta in 1996.

His speech received a standing ovation 

Bill Clinton remembers he was "weeping like a baby seeing his hands shake and his legs shake" as Muhammad Ali lit the Olympic torch in 1996

'He made our fights his fights'

Bryant Gumbel
APTN

Broadcaster Bryant Gumbel said few people would forget how Muhammad Ali made them feel.

Mr Gumbel recalled how as a 17-year-old he was "awestruck" after shaking Ali's hand, and said Ali had a profound impact on his generation.

He gripped our hearts and our souls and our conscience and made our fights his fights for decades.

People like me - young, semi-gifted and black - will never forget what he gave us.

He gave us levels of strength and courage we didn't know we had.

Mr Gumbel said the world still needed Ali and his principles.

Hating people because of their colour is wrong, Ali said, and it doesn't matter which colour does the hating - it's just plain wrong.

Billy Crystal reflects on 42 years of friendship

Billy Crystal delivered his eulogy, quipping, "we're at the halfway point. I was clean-shaven when this [service] started." 

The actor and comedian shared his favourite memories of Ali, describing him as a friend who he could always count on. 

Crystal received lots of laughter after impersonating the boxer, adding how Ali referred to him as "my little brother." 

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"He was tremendous bolt of lightning," Crystal added.  

Crystal called Ali a "silent messenger" who taught us "life is best when you build bridges between people not walls".

Billy Crystal speaks during a memorial service for boxing legend Muhammad Ali on June 10, 2016 at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky.
Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

'God's last boxing bell will sound in heaven'

Ali’s daughter Mayrum took the stage after her mother, reading a poem she wrote in honour of her father. 

"God's last boxing bell will sound in heaven," she said. 

 She spoke of the legacy her father left behind.

“If I had a dollar for every story [about Ali]", Mayrum Ali said, "I could paper the sky.” 

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His life provides useful guidance

Ali's wife, Lonnie, reflected on her husband's childhood and his life-changing encounter with an officer who introduced him to boxing at the age of 12. 

"America must never forget that when a cop and an inner city kid talk to each other – miracles can happen," she said.

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In her eulogy, Lonnie Ali thanked everyone for their support. She also spoke about her husband's power and influence. 

"If Muhammad didn't like the rules he rewrote them", she added. 

But she emphasised his love for his country. 

"Muhammad challenged his government, but he never ran from it, or America."

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'Muhammad Ali was America'

President Barack Obama's adviser Valerie Jarrett has read a statement from the president, who is attending his daughter's high school graduation with his family. 

"He was bigger, brighter and more influential than just about anyone in his era," Obama wrote. "You couldn't have made him up, and yes, he was pretty too."

Obama compared Ali to America, describing him as "brash, defiant, pioneering, joyful," and "always game to test the odds".

"Muhammad Ali was America. Muhammad Ali will always be America," Obama wrote. "What a man."

Valerie Jarret delivers a message from President Barack Obama during Muhammad Ali"s memorial service, Friday, June 10, 2016.
David Goldman/AP

Malcolm X's daughter pays tearful tribute

Malcolm X's daughter, Ambassador Shabazz, holds back tears as she speaks about Ali's death. 

She recalled her father loving Ali like a little brother and as an entrusted friend. The two men spoke of issues like how to make a difference in the lives of others, she said.

"Having Muhammad Ali in my life somehow sustained my dad's breath in me," she said before she began to cry. 

Ambassador Shabazz (L) and US Senator Orrin Hatch (R) during the Muhammad Ali funeral service at the KFC YUM! Center in Louisville, Kentucky.
ERIK S. LESSER/EPA
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A champion for indigenous communities

Chief Oren Lyons calls Ali a champion of indigenous communities in the US.

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Rabbi Lerner suggests next president is a 'she'

Rabbi Lerner
European Photopress Agency

Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun Magazine, delivered an impassioned speech urging the crowd to evoke Muhammad Ali in causes such as the fight against racism and ending mass incarceration. 

He received the biggest cheers after referring to the next US president as a female - a reference to Democrat Hillary Clinton. 

"Tell the next president of the United States that she...," prompting the crowd to erupt in applause as former President Bill Clinton laughed in his seat.

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Senator Orrin Hatch praises Ali

Republican Utah Senator Orrin Hatch recalls his friendship with Ali, noting that the boxing legend "took the pen of history and wrote his own title in the textbooks". 

Senator Hatch said Muhammad Ali was not the "prize fighter" or  the "world champion" but "he was Muhammad Ali, The Greatest". 

The longtime senator added Ali was a committed civil rights fighter, international diplomat and effective emissary of Islam. 

"Our differences fortified our friendship, they did not define it," he added.

US Senator for Utah Orrin Hatch speaks during the Muhammad Ali funeral service at the KFC YUM! Center in Louisville, Kentucky.
ERIK S. LESSER/EPA
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'I'm black and I'm pretty'

Dr Kevin Cosby, a senior pastor at Louisville's St Stephen Baptist Church, was the first to deliver remarks on Ali's life and the civil rights struggle. 

"Before James Brown said ‘I’m black and I’m proud’, Muhammad Ali said ‘I’m black and I’m pretty’," Dr Cosby said.

“He dared to love black people at a time when black people had a problem loving themselves," he added.

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Interfaith service begins

The interfaith service at the KFC Yum! Center is now under way. 

Per Ali's wishes, Imam Hamzah Abdul Malik opened the service with a recitation from the Quran.

Ayah Kutman, a second-generation Syrian immigrant, then translated the Imam's words into English. 

Tune in to hear our live coverage of the service here.

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Before the service, the silence was briefly broken as former President Bill Clinton appeared on stage. 

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Celebrities and global figures in attendance

Notable figures were in attendance for Ali's private burial service. Ali's longtime friend and promoter Don King is seen crying as he arrives for the service. 

Promoter Don King wipes his eyes as he arrives for the funeral service for the late boxer Muhammad Ali in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., June 10, 2016.
Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Rev. Jesse Jackson, former Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the musician Common also attended the private service. 

Rev. Jesse Jackson arrives at a memorial service for boxing legend Muhammad Ali at the KFC Yum! Center on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky.
Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images
Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai arrives for the Muhammad Ali funeral service at the KFC YUM! Center in Louisville, Kentucky.
ERIK S. LESSER/EPA
US musician Common arrives for the Muhammad Ali funeral service at the KFC YUM! Center in Louisville, Kentucky.
ERIK S. LESSER/EPA

Memorial service to welcome thousands

About 15,000 people are expected to attend a public memorial service at the KFC Yum! Center for the boxing legend. The interfaith service will start later than scheduled - 1500 local time (1900 GMT) due to the funeral procession beginning nearly 90 minutes after it was slated to start. 

Former president Bill Clinton, actor Billy Crystal and TV journalist Bryant Gumbel are among those who will speak about Ali and his life achievements. 

Prayers from an imam, a Christian priest and a rabbi are expected at the interfaith service.

The BBC's Ashley Semler reports from inside the stadium that it's getting crowded. 

We're inside the KFC Yum! Center waiting for the Muhammad Ali memorial service to begin. The stadium is filling up.

We're inside the KFC Yum! Center waiting for the Muhammad Ali memorial service to begin. The stadium is filling up.

Private service is under way

The boxing legend is being laid to rest at Cave Hill cemetery in a private burial service. News crews have stopped filming while the service is taking place. 

Actor Will Smith and ex-boxers Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis were among those serving as pallbearers at the burial. 

Throngs of spectators convened outside the cemetery, where a street littered with rose petals welcomes the motorcade. 

Actor Will Smith greets the public while riding in the funeral procession of Muhammed Ali on June 10, 2016 in Louisville,
John Moore/Getty Images
Actor Will Smith greets the public while riding in the funeral procession

Tribute in the sky

The streets of Louisville are not the only place where fans are paying tribute to "The Greatest." 

A plane hovered above, trailing a banner that read, "Muhammad Ali. The Greatest". 

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Funeral procession now over

The procession arrives at the cemetery
Reuters
The funeral cortege arrives at the cemetery
Procession arrives
AP
Thousands lined up at the cemetery

Muhammed Ali's funeral procession is now over and has arrived at Cave Hill Cemetery for a private service.

Look back at the life of The Greatest

This clip comes from a 1964 interview in which the champion announced he was changing his name from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali.

Cassius Clay was my slave name. I'm no longer a slave.

This was one of the key moments in his life. And it was a life of momentous battles and seemingly daunting challenges, from which he normally seemed to emerge victorious - from his greatest bouts to his fights against racial and religious prejudice and even with the US government.

This clip is contained in BBC iWonder's timeline of his life and career. If you would like to learn more about the man who declared himself to be "The Greatest", go to the full iWonder timeline.

The champ has arrived home

The procession has just passed Ali's childhood home, according to the BBC's Suzanne Kianpour:

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Funeral service has been delayed

The memorial service has been delayed by one hour due to the late start of the procession.

It will now begin at 1500 local time (1900 GMT).

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'RIP Muhammad Ali. Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee'

On Grand Avenue in Louisville, these small children have their own special chant for Ali, as captured by the city's mayor Greg Fischer. 

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Ali designed funeral to include all walks of life

The BBC's Aleem Maqbool describes the crowd as a mix of black and white, young and old as well as rich and poor. 

Ali and his wife drew up a plan for his funeral up to 10 years ago with the aim of allowing as many people from all walks of life as possible to participate. 

He was a man who connected with people, Maqbool says, and wanted to in his death as well. 

Spectators wait for the arrival of Muhammad Ali"s funeral procession to enter Cave Hill Cemetery, Friday, June 10, 2016, in Louisville, Ky.
John Minchillo/AP
Mourners hold signs outside Muhammad Ali"s childhood home during the funeral procession for the three-time heavyweight boxing champion in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., June 10, 2016.
Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Spectators filmed as Ali's hearse passed by, cheering and placing flowers on the vehicle. 

The mood was a combination of somberness and spirited cheers as the motorcade continued toward Cave Hill Cemetery. 

Check out Maqbool's powerful interview with a fan mourning the icon's loss.   

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'His refusal to be beaten was truly amazing'

Amir Khan
Reuters
Amir Khan said Ali stood up for what he believed in

British boxer Amir Khan, who met Muhammad Ali twice, says Ali was an inspiration to him.

“There are many sides to Ali but if you’re looking at it from a purely boxing standpoint what he achieved was remarkable,” he told BBC Urdu’s Adil Shahzeb.

“No one gave him a shot against Sonny Liston, who was meant to destroy him, but he proved everyone wrong. Again in the rematch he overcame him. Against George Foreman he shocked the world again. But the thing that stands out with Ali, especially from fights against Joe Frazier and Ken Norton when he broke his jaw, is that Ali had a spirit which refused to be beaten or overcome by anyone. I’ve not seen that in any fighter. His heart and his refusal to be beaten was truly amazing.”

Khan says he admires how Ali “stood up for what he believed in, even if it meant giving up his world title and wealth”.

“At the time he ruffled a few feathers with his beliefs but he always carried himself in a dignified way. There were so many good causes and things he did in his life away from boxing – that is why the world has reacted the way it has done at his death.”

A riderless horse for Muhammad Ali

A Muslim prayer service was held in Louisville on Thursday.

But why was there a riderless horse present? 

The BBC's World Have Your Say explains:

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Fans wait for a last glimpse of 'The Greatest'

The streets were lined with fans as the procession continued along a route highlighting Ali's life in Louisville. Some members of the crowd chanted, "Ali! Ali!" while others remained reverent as the motorcade cruised by. 

Onlooker Inez Hughes held back tears as she stood against the rail overlooking the interstate for a chance to see the hearse carrying Ali's body. 

"This is the last time to see him ride by," said the Louisville native. "This is history."

Others watching were unable to stop the tears.

The BBC's Aleem Maqbool in Louisville said people watching were very emotional and some were crying.

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'Someone who could not be bought, sold, or tamed'

Listen to the BBC World Service report on how Ali's Vietnam War stance brought him closer to the civil rights movement - and what Reverend Jesse Jackson had to say about him: 

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Procession cars display a butterfly

Cars in the motorcade procession have displayed butterfly images in honour of Ali's famous quote: "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee." 

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Remembering a hometown hero

Yejide Travis, a 55-year-old woman from Louisville, grew up near Ali's childhood home. She recalled her first encounter with Ali on the street. 

"I was five and this big strong man who was so pretty picked me up," she told the AP news agency outside the Muhammad Ali Center. 

"He was kind to me. He looked me in the eye, made me feel special. And I haven't forgotten it in 50 years."

Travis remembered spotting Ali around town with a trail of children following him. 

"He was the people's champion. He loved us well. He asked you how you were doing and he really wanted the answer," she said. "He was the greatest of all time. There will never be another.''  

People lining the streets
AFP

Erdogan misses Ali funeral

Turkey newspaper
Milliyet

From BBC Monitoring:

The fact that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan returned from the States early, without actually attending today's funeral ceremony, was covered by several Turkish media outlets.

CNN Turk said that this was a "surprise" development, and speculated that Mr Erdogan may have decided to leave after his request to read from the Koran during the memorial service was turned down. 

FoxTV said that Mr Erdogan's request to make a speech at the service had been rejected.

Milliyet ran the headline "Farewell to the legend" ("Evsaneye veda") on its front page and also carried a picture of Mr Erdogan attending a prayer ceremony in honour of the boxer.  

Ali's global reach

The presence of thousands at Muhammad Ali's funeral, including luminaries from around the world, underscore his impact as a global hero. 

Ali boxed in at least 12 different countries throughout his career as well as serving as a humanitarian and activist .

World heavyweight boxing champion Cassius Clay (later Muhammad Ali, 1942 - 2016) signs autographs during a visit to the London Free School children's play group and families' group at 34 Tavistock Crescent, the home of Rhaune Laslett, in Ladbroke Grove, London, 15th May 1966. The group was later known as the Neighbourhood Service. Clay is in London for his upcoming title defence against British champion Henry Cooper.
R. McPhedran/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Ali staged many of his high-profile fights in developing countries in part to illuminate those nations' problems. He also visited North Korea and Afghanistan as a goodwill ambassador and delivered $1m worth of medical supplies to Cuba. 

In 1990, Ali visited Iraq on his own accord in an effort to negotiate the release of American hostages captured after Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait. The global figure helped in the release of 15 hostages. 

Former world heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali (C) sits with Afghan students during his visit to Karte Sei High school for Girls November18, 2002 in Kabul, Afghanistan. Ali is in Kabul on a three-day mission as a special UN guest as the 'U.N. Messenger of Peace.'
Paula Bronstein/UNICEF/Getty Images

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar pays tribute in BBC interview

Basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has called Ali his "friend and his brother", in a BBC interview, and says they had known each other since they were teenagers.

"Muhammad Ali is the epitome of the concept of the living legend," he said of Ali before his death. "He has inspired and thrilled generations of fans around the world as an athlete and humanitarian. Throughout his life he has been one of a kind. They truly threw away the mould when he was born."  

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Muhammad Ali and Kareem Abdul Jabbar
Sports Illustrated
Muhammad Ali with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Cleveland in 1967

Ali's final journey is under way

Limos leave the funeral home
Reuters

Outside the front of the funeral home, the pallbearers have put the casket, covered in a cloth bearing Arabic writing, into a limousine for its final journey.

Then the procession sets off, with crowds of people clapping, punching the air and yelling out "Ali! Ali!"

'This man of heart and principle would always stand his ground'

British poet Benjamin Zephaniah wrote an ode to his hero Muhammad Ali. 

Watch below, via BBC Sport:

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Chechnya's unusual Ali connection

From BBC Monitoring:

Shortly after Muhammad Ali's death, the authorities in Russia's republic of Chechnya took the unusual decision to name a major street in the capital Grozny after the late boxer. Previously, it bore the name of Sergei Kirov, an associate of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.

Chechnya's strongman leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, normally has few kind words to say about anything related to America, but reacting to Muhammad Ali's death, he called him "the wisest person on earth".

"My childhood dream is now gone together with Muhammad," Mr Kadyrov wrote on Instagram. "I always wanted him to come to Chechnya, so that I, a boxing-fan boy, could shake his strong hand."

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Hundreds line Louisville streets

The limousines with Ali's body have yet to leave the funeral home but people are lining the streets and ready to get a final glimpse of their hero.

Crowds outside the funeral home
Reuters
Boy holds photo of Ali
Reuters
Huge pictures of Ali in the ring
AFP
Boy wearing boxing gloves
AP