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Muhammad Ali laid to rest in Louisville

The life of boxing legend Muhammad Ali has been celebrated in his hometown, Louisville, Kentucky. Tens of thousands lined the roads to watch his casket pass by on its way to the cemetery.

A 17-car motorcade escorted "the Greatest," to his final resting place as fans tossed flowers and petals in the hearse's path. His nine children, his wife, two ex-wives and pall bearers Mike Tyson and Will Smith made up part of the procession.

An estimated 100,000 people holding signs and chanting "Ali! Ali!" lined the streets as a hearse carrying his casket made its way past his childhood home to Louisville's Cave Hill Cemetery.

Ali was laid to rest around noon local time in a private ceremony. A larger, public memorial service was held later in the day.

The memorial service was held at a sports arena attended by celebrities, athletes and politicians, including former President Bill Clinton, comedian Billy Crystal, Sen. Orrin Hatch, director Spike Lee, former NFL football player Jim Brown, Arnold Schwarzenegger, soccer star David Beckham, Whoopi Goldberg and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

The burial came one day after the champion's traditional Muslim funeral, which drew a crowd of 6,000 from all around the world.

Muhammad Ali died last Friday after a three-decade long battle with Parkinson's. He was 74.

Undisputed champion

Ali will be remembered as one of the most important athletes of the 20th century. Besides his multiple championships, Olympic gold medal and impressive win record, he was an outspoken supporter of many political causes. His famous resistance to the Vietnam War and refusal to fight in it inspired countless others, and though his conversion to Islam saw him temporarily banned from his sport and stripped of his titles, he did not back down from his beliefs.

"We've all been dreading the passing of the champ, but at the same time we knew ultimately it would come," Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said. "It was selfish for us to think that we could hold on to him forever. Our job now, as a city, is to send him off with the class and dignity and respect that he deserves."

es/kms (AP, dpa)

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