The Latest: Mourners hold interfaith service for Ali
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) The Latest on the death of Muhammad Ali (all times EDT):
Haleh Karimi can barely believe she gets to live in the city that raised The Greatest, Muhammad Ali.
She was one of dozens to crowd into Louisville's Islamic Center for an interfaith service Sunday night to celebrate the hometown hero. Ali famously converted to the Islamic faith and refused to fight in the Vietnam War, though it cost him years of his boxing career.
Muhammad Babar, a spokesman for the Louisville Islamic Center, says Ali would attend prayer services at the center in the past when he was back home visiting Louisville.
Last September, when the Islamic Center was hit by vandalism, Babar says he contacted Ali's wife and the family planned to bring Ali to the center for a ''paint over'' ceremony. But Ali didn't feel well and was unable to attend, so instead sent a message to read at the ceremony.
Karimi, executive director of Interfaith Paths to Peace, said she hopes the world reflects on Ali's death by remembering his call for unity. Karimi says Ali's message of love for all is the only way the world might find peace.
Atendees used markers to write notes to the superstar boxer on a paper banner. Mourners were offered two types of stamps to choose from: a butterfly or a bee.
Muhammad Ali's body has been returned to his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, where he'll be laid to rest in a city grieving the loss of its favorite son.
An airplane carrying the boxing great's body landed in Louisville on Sunday afternoon.
Family spokesman Bob Gunnell says Ali was accompanied by his wife, Lonnie, and other family members and friends. He says the body was taken to a local funeral home.
A public memorial service is planned Friday in Louisville.
Muhammad Ali's brother has taken center stage at a Sunday worship service at the church where their father was a longtime member in Louisville, Kentucky.
An emotional Rahaman Ali clapped and swayed to hymns and hugged members of King Solomon Missionary Baptist Church in Louisville's west end. The church features a painting by Ali's father, Cassius Clay Sr., and isn't far from the pink house where the boxing champion grew up.
Ali's younger brother put his hand to his face, overcome with emotion, as church members paid tribute to his brother, who died late Friday in an Arizona hospital.
During the two-hour service, assistant pastor Charles Elliott III asked the congregation to stand to honor Muhammad Ali. In his tribute, Elliott said ''there is no great man that has done more for this city than Muhammad Ali.''
Elliott's father, the Rev. Charles Elliott Jr., knew Muhammad Ali for decades. He recalled Ali's generosity in support of an anti-hunger program in the city.
Famed fight doctor Ferdie Pacheco once said: ''Cassius Clay was born in Louisville. Muhammad Ali was born in Miami.''
Ali trained on Miami Beach in the early days of his pro career at the 5th Street Gym, a student of Hall of Famer Angelo Dundee. The building where they worked is long gone, knocked down in the early 1990s. But the gym, at least a new version of it, still exists in Miami Beach, with photos of Ali on the walls – partly to pay homage to the past, partly to inspire the fighters who train there now.
''He will always establish a standard of excellence, both in the ring and as a personality,'' said Dino Spencer, who now runs the 5th Street Gym – which to this day hosts a boxing class named for Ali, who was the guest of honor when the gym reopened in 2010. ''He got some people to hate him and some people to love him. That's a lot, to affect everybody. Fighters will always strive for the reactions he had. Most will never come close.''
''His legend will live on,'' Spencer said, as a few young fighters worked out inside the gym, while outside some passers-by stopped to take photos of themselves near the large image of Ali that overlooks the front door. ''His stories will live on – and his example will live on here.''
Jack Nicklaus has only photos of his family and U.S. presidents hanging on the walls of his office at home. The one exception is Muhammad Ali.
He met Ali for the first time in 1996 at the PGA Championship in Louisville, and Nicklaus said it's one of his favorite pictures.
''I had my hands thrown up, sort of, `Don't hit me, please,''' Nicklaus said Sunday. ''I've always liked that picture. It was my first meeting of Ali. We actually touched base quite a few times after that and I got to know him a little bit. Obviously, he didn't communicate all that well. But he meant an awful lot to the sport of boxing and the sporting world.''
People are flocking to Muhammad Ali's boyhood home in Louisville, Kentucky, to pay tribute to the boxing great, leaving flowers, balloons and boxing gloves around the marker designating it a historical site.
The small pink home on Grand Avenue was recently renovated and turned into a museum. Said Dorothy Poynter, who grew up with Ali in the neighborhood, ''We were all so proud of him.''
Another memorial has grown outside the Muhammad Ali Center, a downtown museum that promotes his humanitarian ideals and showcases his remarkable career.
Andrew Hale took his 3-year-old daughter, Chloe, there on Sunday to explain to her who Ali was.
He said: ''He was strong, courageous, and I hope I can be like that one day and just show love to my daughter like he showed his. … She asked me where he is and I said he was in heaven.''
Spectators at the French Open men's final, many of them standing, have paid tribute to Muhammad Ali with a sustained bout of applause before the title match between Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. A photo of Ali, who died Friday at age 74, was shown on the jumbo screen overlooking the Court Philippe Chatrier.
Djokovic told a TV interviewer that he is feeling ''a lot of emotion'' before the ''very important match.''
Murray said he's ''looking forward to it'' because ''these are matches you play for.''
Tennis great Billie Jean King remembered Ali as fun to be around. She witnessed the Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier fight at Madison Square Garden in 1971 and saw him there again in 1999 for Sports Illustrated's celebration of the top athletes of the 20th Century.
''He always whispered in my ear, `Billie Jean King, you are the Queen,''' she said.
King won 12 Grand Slam singles titles during her career in the 1960s and 70s, while Ali was rising to stardom in his sport. King says Ali ''talked the talk and walked the walk.''