Public says goodbye to boxing great Jimmy Ellis Monday morning - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Public says goodbye to boxing great Jimmy Ellis Monday morning

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- He was a heavyweight great who many people think never got the praise and fanfare he deserved -- but that was not the case on Monday when retired boxer Jimmy Ellis was laid to rest.

Family and friends gathered at Canaan Christian Church today to honor the former champ.

Ellis died last Tuesday after a long illness.

During his eulogy, the minister said Ellis was a loving man who had the heart of a champion.

"And, my brothers and sisters, the heart of this champion displayed this kind of love -- for all of those who knew Jimmy knew he loved everyone!" said Rev. Lance West, Ellis' pastor.

Last week, Muhammad Ali remembered his longtime friend as a "master in the ring."

"In the world of heavyweights, I have always thought that Jimmy was one of the best," Ali said in a statement in which he and his wife, Lonnie, expressed condolences.

Ali said his friendship with Ellis began as both rose through the ranks as amateurs in their hometown of Louisville.

"As a former champion, Jimmy was known for exceptional hand speed and a strong chin," Ali said.

Both fighters fought under the tutelage of Angelo Dundee. The great trainer often said that Ellis packed more punch than he was given credit for, Ali recalled. But Ali said Ellis' greatest qualities were his "gentle manner and the compassion in his heart."

"I had a kinship with Jimmy and felt like he and I were of the same cloth," Ali said. "He was a great athlete and a caring man. Great competitors who happen to be great friends are rare. Jimmy Ellis was that to me and I will miss him."

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