Friday's 19-mile procession represents final round for Muhammad - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Friday's 19-mile procession represents final round for Muhammad Ali, 'The Champ'

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- In 1960, the heart of Louisville swelled with pride in celebration of Muhammad Ali's Olympic victory and Friday, the heart of the community will overflow again -- this time lining the streets to honor the passing of our city's greatest champion.

"There will never be another Ali," said Corey Davis, an Ali fan.

Ali's funeral procession begins at the AD Porter Funeral Home off Bardstown road in Fern Creek, and travels about 3.5 miles north onto I-264 toward downtown. 

As the champ's motorcade enters I-65, it passes the shadow of Freedom Hall. Ali won five fights there, the last in November 1961. He called for and delivered a seventh round knock-out against Willie Besmanoff.

From there, it's around hospital curve and onto I-64 East. The Belvedere downtown provides a great place for the public to view the procession as it travels the freeway past the museum bearing Ali's name. 

"I remember seeing him in the mall," said Davis. "He used to come to the school sometimes."

Davis says he'll see the champ one last time on Friday. The Procession will parade past his home as it passes down Muhammad Ali Boulevard between 9th Street and 34 Street, also retracing the outskirts of Ali's alma mater, Central High School.

The school is planning its own dedication for the day. 

"We're asking students, staff, alumni -- anyone connected to Central High School -- to come out here to school," said Raymond Green, Principal of Central High School. "Wear black and gold, showing school pride for 'The Greatest' as the motorcade goes by on Broadway."

The procession cuts over to Broadway from 34th Street, then heads east, weaving through west Louisville and the streets a young boy named Cassius Clay called home. 

Reverend Charles Elliot knew him back then. Before Ali converted to Islam, he attended King Solomon Baptist Church, one block off Broadway at 17th Street.

"That family has truly been a blessing to us," Elliott said.

Elliott's mother babysat Ali's daughter Laila. He says church members will be out in full force.

"Because they love that family," Elliott said.

From there, it's onto Cave Hill Cemetery for burial -- but not before catching a glimpse down 4th Street, what is now Spalding University, where it all began for Ali in the old Columbia gym when he was just 12 years old. 

"He left his bike outside and someone stole his bike and he went inside and said, 'I'm going to whoop somebody,'" said Tori Murden McClure, Spalding University president. "He ran into a police officer Joe Martin who said if you're going to beat somebody you better learn how to box."

In tribute, a bike now hangs in front of the entrance and a mural marking the old boxing gym where Ali trained. 

"Muhammad Ali touched billions of lives," McClure said. "Spalding touched his life, and it's our job to go out, and when someone else gets knocked down, and lift them out."

The motorcade represents 19 miles to retrace history -- a final round for the Greatest.

The procession begins at 9 a.m.

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