The Greatest returns home for the last time

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LOUISVILLE, KY - Love him or not, there is no denying the legend of the late boxing great, Muhammad Ali.

Ali died Friday night at age 74. As the world prepares to say goodbye this Friday, Louisville welcomes home its native son and has planned a processional through the streets of his hometown.  Mayor Greg Fischer says that will include traveling down Muhammad Ali Boulevard, his boyhood home on Grand Avenue, and ending at the Cave Hill Cemetery.

Self-proclaimed The Greatest, Ali was known for knock-outs inside the ring and humanitarian efforts outside it. He fought for peace. He fought for children.

Fischer says, “We must continue his work as well and remember that while he achieved fame as a boxer his most important fights happened outside the ring.”

Over the weekend, a swarm of bees appeared in a tree outside the Ali Center near a mural of one of his most famous quotes, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”

Before retiring in 1981 and being silenced by Parkinson`s, the champ spent two decades beating every major boxing contender of his generation, including reigning champions like Sonny Liston.

“He`s too ugly to be the world`s champ,” Ali said at the time. “The world`s champ should be pretty like me.”

Never one to shy away from the spotlight in life, that will continue to be his M-O in death. Ali helped plan his own memorial service designed with a message of inclusion.

As Mrs. Lonnie Ali looks on, President George W. Bush embraces three-time heavyweight boxing champion of the world Muhammad Ali after presenting him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2005, during ceremonies at the White House. White House photo by Paul Morse, courtesy of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum/NARA.

As Mrs. Lonnie Ali looks on, President George W. Bush embraces three-time heavyweight boxing champion of the world Muhammad Ali after presenting him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2005, during ceremonies at the White House. White House photo by Paul Morse, courtesy of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum/NARA.

Statement by President George W. Bush on the passing of Muhammad Ali 

Laura and I are saddened by the death of Muhammad Ali, The Greatest of All Time. I gave Ali the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005 and wondered aloud how he stayed so pretty throughout so many fights. "It probably had to do with his beautiful soul. He was a fierce fighter and he's a man of peace, just like Odessa and Cassius Clay, Sr., believed their son could be."

Muhammad Ali was an iconic and historic figure who thrilled, entertained, influenced, and inspired millions.  Americans will always be proud to have been in his corner and called him one of our own.

Laura and I send our heartfelt condolences to Muhammad Ali's family and friends.

Thumbnail Image: Photo: Ira Rosenberg / MGN
Photo: Cliff / Flickr / CC BY 2.0
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