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Muhammad Ali Funeral Speech By Rabbi Michael Lerner Slams Politicians Who Attack Muslims

'We know what it's like to be demeaned.'

10/06/2016 23:39 BST | Updated 10/06/2016 23:41 BST

A thinly-veiled attack on Republican candidate Donald Trump and the persecution of Muslims received a standing ovation during Muhammad Ali's funeral on Friday.

Rabbi Michael Lerner, an American political activist, told the thousands who had gathered at Ali's funeral in Kentucky that American Jews will not "tolerate" anyone "putting down Muslims and blaming Muslims for a few people".

In the highly political speech, Rabbi Lerner said that he was speaking as a representative of American Jews.

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Rabbi Michael Lerner speaks during Muhammad Ali's memorial service.

The editor of the Jewish magazine Tikkun brought the crowd to its feet four times with his passionate speech.

He said: "We today stand in solidarity with the Islamic community, in this country and all around the world."

He added: "We will not tolerate politicians, or anyone else, putting down Muslims and blaming Muslims for a few people.

"We know what it's like to be demeaned.

"We know what it's like to have a few people who act against the highest visions of our traditions to then be identified as the value of the entire tradition."

His comments received a standing ovation, with loud cheers from those in attendance.

Rabbi Lerner also paid tribute to Ali and his "moral integrity".

He said: "The way to honour Muhammad Ali is to be Muhammad Ali today.

"And that means us, everyone here and everyone listening, it's up to us to continue the ability to speak truth to power. We must speak out, refuse to follow the path of conformity and rule of the game in life. 

"We must refuse to follow the path of conformity."

Rabbi Lerner's comments were heavily praised on social media.

The rabbi also took aim at "racist police and racist judges", who he said imprison African Americans for offences that "white people get away with all the time".

He then had a message for the next US president, saying that "she" should seek a constitutional amendment on how election campaigns are funded.

His suggestion that the next president will be female - and therefore Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton - received rapturous applause and laughter from the crowd.

Former US president, Bill Clinton, was caught on camera smiling as he spoke to actor Billy Crystal during the ceremony.

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Bill Clinton (right) was caught on camera smiling as he spoke to actor Billy Crystal during the ceremony.

Louisville and the rest of the world said goodbye to The Greatest on Friday, showering affection on Ali during a fist-pumping funeral procession through the streets of his hometown, followed by a star-studded memorial service where he was saluted as an outspoken breaker of racial barriers.

An estimated 100,000 people holding signs and chanting, "Ali! Ali!" lined the streets as a hearse carrying his cherry-red casket made its way past his childhood home to Louisville's Cave Hill Cemetery, where a private graveside service was held for the three-time heavyweight champion of the world.

The memorial service was held at a sports arena packed with celebrities, athletes and politicians, including Clinton, director Spike Lee, former NFL great Jim Brown, Arnold Schwarzenegger, David Beckham, Whoopi Goldberg and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

  • Adrees Latif / Reuters
    The casket bearing the remains of Muhammad Ali is loaded into a hearse at the A D Porter & Sons funeral home during the funeral procession for the three-time heavyweight boxing champion in Louisville, Kentucky, on June 10
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    The hearse (center, L) carrying the remains of Muhammad Ali leaves the A D Porter & Sons funeral home
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    A crowd gathers outside the A D Porter & Sons funeral home for the procession to begin for three-time heavyweight boxing champion
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    Mourners gather outside Muhammad Ali's childhood home during the funeral procession
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    Billy Roarx (L) and Bobby Green (R) wait for the hearse to drive by with the casket of the late Muhammad Ali down Muhammad Ali Boulevard to Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky
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    Mourners hold signs outside Muhammad Ali's childhood home
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    A child holds a banner outside Muhammad Ali's childhood home during the funeral procession for the three-time heavyweight boxing champion in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., June 10, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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    LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: Billy Crystal attends the Muhammad Ali Memorial Service at KFC YUM! Center on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Stephen J. Cohen/WireImage)
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    LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: Rashdea Ali-Walsh attends the Muhammad Ali Memorial Service at KFC YUM! Center on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Stephen J. Cohen/WireImage)
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    LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: Former President Bill Clinton attends the Muhammad Ali Memorial Service at KFC YUM! Center on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Stephen J. Cohen/WireImage)
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    LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: Lonnie Ali attends the Muhammad Ali Memorial Service at KFC YUM! Center on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Stephen J. Cohen/WireImage)
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    LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: (EDITOR'S NOTE: Image was created as an Equirectangular Panorama. Import image into a panoramic player to create an interactive 360 degree view) A portrait of Muhammed Ali is displayed at a makeshift shrine at the Muhammad Ali Center after the former champ was laid to rest on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. Earlier in the day a funeral procession and memorial service gave the public an opportunity to honor world heavyweight boxing champion from Louisville. Ali died on June 3 at age 74. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
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    LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: Natasha Mundkur attends the Muhammad Ali Memorial Service at KFC YUM! Center on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Stephen J. Cohen/WireImage)
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    LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: Bryant Gumbel attends the Muhammad Ali Memorial Service at KFC YUM! Center on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Stephen J. Cohen/WireImage)
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    LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: Whoopi Goldberg attends the Muhammad Ali Memorial Service at KFC YUM! Center on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Stephen J. Cohen/WireImage)
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    LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: Natasha Mundkur attends the Muhammad Ali Memorial Service at KFC YUM! Center on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Stephen J. Cohen/WireImage)
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    LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: Ray Lewis attends the Muhammad Ali Memorial Service at KFC YUM! Center on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Stephen J. Cohen/WireImage)
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    LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: Imam Zaid Shakir attends the Muhammad Ali Memorial Service at KFC YUM! Center on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Stephen J. Cohen/WireImage)
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    LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: Arnold Schwarzenegger attends the memorial service for boxing legend Muhammad Ali at the KFC Yum Center in Louisville, Kentucky on June 10, 2016. (Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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    LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: Will Smith attends the memorial service for boxing legend Muhammad Ali at the KFC Yum Center in Louisville, Kentucky on June 10, 2016. (Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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    LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: Former President Bill Clinton attends the memorial service for boxing legend Muhammad Ali at the KFC Yum Center in Louisville, Kentucky on June 10, 2016. (Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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    LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: Billy Crystal attends the Muhammad Ali Memorial Service at KFC YUM! Center on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Stephen J. Cohen/WireImage)
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    LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: Will Smith attends Muhammad Ali's funeral procession June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Stephen J. Cohen/WireImage)
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    LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: Imam Zaid Shakir speaks as Rabbi Michael Lerner looks on at the Muhammad Ali Memorial Service at KFC YUM! Center on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Stephen J. Cohen/WireImage)
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    LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis attend the Muhammad Ali Memorial Service at KFC YUM! Center on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Stephen J. Cohen/WireImage)
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    LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: A general view during the Muhammad Ali Memorial Service at KFC YUM! Center on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Stephen J. Cohen/WireImage)
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    LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: Imam Zaid Shakir delivers a speech during the memorial service for boxing legend Muhammad Ali at the KFC Yum Center in Louisville, Kentucky on June 10, 2016. (Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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    LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: A pair of boxing gloves are placed on a memorial at the Muhammad Ali Center on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. After the funeral and the eulogy, people reconvened at the Muhammed Ali Center to celebrate the life of the iconic sports figure. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
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    LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: Malcolm X's daughter, Attallah Shabazz delivers a speech during the memorial service for boxing legend Muhammad Ali at the KFC Yum Center in Louisville, Kentucky on June 10, 2016. (Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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    Will Smith greets fans as the funeral procession for Muhammad Ali makes its way to Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, Ky., on Friday, June 10, 2016. Ali, a three-time world heavyweight champion, died June 3, 2016, at 74. (Liv Kaiser/Lexington Herald-Leader/TNS via Getty Images)
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    LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: Muhammad Ali's wife Lonnie Ali delivers a speech during the memorial service for boxing legend Muhammad Ali at the KFC Yum Center in Louisville, Kentucky on June 10, 2016. (Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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    The funeral procession for Muhammad Ali makes its way along Broadway to his burial in Cave Hill Cemetery, in downtown Louisville, Ky., on Friday, June 10, 2016. Ali, a three-time world heavyweight champion, died June 3, 2016, at 74. (Pablo Alcala/Lexington Herald-Leader/TNS via Getty Images)
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    Crowds packed all sides of the intersection as the funeral procession for Muhammad Ali turns onto Muhammad Ali Boulevard at 9th Street in downtown Louisville, Ky., on Friday, June 10, 2016. Ali, a three-time world heavyweight champion, died June 3, 2016, at 74. (Charles Bertram/Lexington Herald-Leader/TNS via Getty Images)
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    Fans react to the hearse as the funeral procession for Muhammad Ali makes its way into Cave Hill Cemetery, in Louisville, Ky., on Friday, June 10, 2016. Ali, a three-time world heavyweight champion, died June 3, 2016, at 74. (Liv Kaiser/Lexington Herald-Leader/TNS via Getty Images)
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    The funeral procession for Muhammad Ali makes its way along Broadway to his burial in Cave Hill Cemetery, in downtown Louisville, Ky., on Friday, June 10, 2016. Ali, a three-time world heavyweight champion, died June 3, 2016, at 74. (Mark Cornelison/Lexington Herald-Leader/TNS via Getty Images)
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    Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens, is seen in attendance during the memorial service for boxing legend Muhammad Ali at the KFC Yum Center on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. / AFP / Michael B. Thomas (Photo credit should read MICHAEL B. THOMAS/AFP/Getty Images)
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    Actor Will Smith (R) attends the memorial service for boxing legend Muhammad Ali at the KFC Yum Center on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. / AFP / Michael B. Thomas (Photo credit should read MICHAEL B. THOMAS/AFP/Getty Images)
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    LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: Basketball coach Pat Riley arrives for a memorial service for boxing legend Muhammad Ali on June 10, 2016 at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky. Ali died June 3 of complications from Parkinson's disease. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)
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    Crowds packed all sides of the intersection as the funeral procession for Muhammad Ali turns onto Muhammad Ali Boulevard at 9th Street in downtown Louisville, Ky., on Friday, June 10, 2016. Ali, a three-time world heavyweight champion, died June 3, 2016, at 74. (Charles Bertram/Lexington Herald-Leader/TNS via Getty Images)
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    Hamid Karzai, Former President of Afghanistan, attends the memorial service for boxing legend Muhammad Ali at the KFC Yum Center on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. / AFP / Michael B. Thomas (Photo credit should read MICHAEL B. THOMAS/AFP/Getty Images)
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    Actress and personality Whoopi Goldberg attends the memorial service for boxing legend Muhammad Ali at the KFC Yum Center on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. / AFP / Michael B. Thomas (Photo credit should read MICHAEL B. THOMAS/AFP/Getty Images)
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    Pallbearers including Heavyweight boxing champions Mike Tyson (L), Lennox Lewis (2-L) and actor Will Smith (R) applaud during the memorial service for boxing legend Muhammad Ali at the KFC Yum Center on June 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. / AFP / Michael B. Thomas (Photo credit should read MICHAEL B. THOMAS/AFP/Getty Images)
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    LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai arrives for a memorial service for boxing legend Muhammad Ali on June 10, 2016 at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky. Ali died June 3 of complications from Parkinson's disease. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)
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    LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 10: Boxing promoter Don King arrives for a memorial service for boxing legend Muhammad Ali on June 10, 2016 at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky. Ali died June 3 of complications from Parkinson's disease. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)
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    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 10: Members of the public gather at the O2 in London to watch Muhammad Ali's funeral streamed live from Louisville, Kentucky on June 10, 2016 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Kate Green/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 10: Members of the public gather at the O2 in London to watch Muhammad Ali's funeral streamed live from Louisville, Kentucky on June 10, 2016 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Kate Green/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 10: Members of the public sign the book of condolence at the O2's 'I am the Greatest exhibition' before the Muhammad Ali's funeral was streamed live from Louisville, Kentucky on June 10, 2016 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Kate Green/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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    Spectators cheer after Rabbi Michael Lerner's speech during Muhammad Ali's memorial service, Friday, June 10, 2016, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
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    Lonnie Ali, widow of Muhammad Ali, thanks friends and supporters during a reception at the Muhammad Ali Center on Friday, June 10, 2016, in Louisville, Ky. The funeral and memorial service for the boxer were held earlier in the day. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
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    Former President Bill Clinton delivers a eulogy during Muhammad Ali's memorial service, Friday, June 10, 2016, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
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    Muhammad Ali's daughter Maryum waves to the crowd lining the street as the funeral procession for her father passes in front of his boyhood home Friday, June 10, 2016, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
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    Sportscaster Bryant Gumbel delivers a eulogy during Muhammad Ali's memorial service, Friday, June 10, 2016, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
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    Former President Bill Clinton sits with comedian Billy Crystal along with other guests during Muhammad Ali's memorial service, Friday, June 10, 2016, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
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    Actor Will Smith, center, departs the funeral home, Tuesday, June 10, 2016, in Louisville, Ky., before Muhammad Ali's memorial service. Smith was a pall bearer for Ali. (Michael Clevenger/The Courier-Journal, Pool)
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    Former Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger, center, arrives for Muhammad Ali's memorial service, Friday, June 10, 2016, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
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    Muhammad Ali's daughter Hana waves to the crowd lining the street as the funeral procession for her father passes in front of his boyhood home Friday, June 10, 2016, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
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    Actor Will Smith arrives with his wife Jada Pinkett for Muhammad Ali's memorial service, Friday, June 10, 2016, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
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    Boxing gloves hang on the historic site plaque in front of Muhammad Ali's boyhood home as people watch his funeral procession pass by Friday, June 10, 2016, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
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    Soccer player David Beckham, left, arrives for Muhammad Ali's memorial service, Friday, June 10, 2016, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
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    People line the street in front of the boyhood home of Muhammad Ali as they wait for Ali's funeral procession to arrive Friday, June 10, 2016, in Louisville, Ky. Ali's home is the center building. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
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    Actor Will Smith greets the crowd as he arrives with Muhammad Ali's funeral procession while they enter Cave Hill Cemetery, Friday, June 10, 2016, in Louisville, Ky. Ali's body will rode in a miles-long procession spanning his life — from his boyhood home where he shadowboxed and dreamed of greatness to the boulevard that bears his name and the museum that stands as a lasting tribute to his boxing triumphs and his humanitarian causes outside the ring. Ali died last Friday at 74 after a long battle with Parkinson's disease. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
  • John Minchillo/AP
    Police stand guard along a rose petal covered entrance way to Cave Hill Cemetery before the arrival of Muhammad Ali's funeral procession, Friday, June 10, 2016, in Louisville, Ky. Ali's body will rode in a miles-long procession spanning his life — from his boyhood home where he shadowboxed and dreamed of greatness to the boulevard that bears his name and the museum that stands as a lasting tribute to his boxing triumphs and his humanitarian causes outside the ring. Ali died last Friday at 74 after a long battle with Parkinson's disease. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
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    Muhammad Ali's funeral procession passes as onlookers line the street Friday, June 10, 2016, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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    Promoter Don King wipes his eyes as he arrives for the funeral service for the late boxer Muhammad Ali in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., June 10, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
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    Police clear the street that runs in front of the boyhood home of Muhammad Ali in preparation of the arrival of his funeral procession Friday, June 10, 2016, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
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    Musician and actor Kris Kristofferson shakes hands with the Rev Jesse Jackson (not seen) at a memorial service for the late boxer Muhammad Ali in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., June 10, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
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    A man reaches out to touch the hearse carrying the body of Muhammad Ali as it drives down Broadway toward Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., June 10, 2016. REUTERS/Michael Clevenger/POOL
  • Lucy Nicholson / Reuters
    Mourners hold signs outside Muhammad Ali's childhood home during the funeral procession for the three-time heavyweight boxing champion in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., June 10, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
  • Lucas Jackson / Reuters
    Actor Billy Crystal speaks at a memorial service for the late boxer Muhammad Ali in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., June 10, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
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    Natasha Mundkur, a student at the University of Louisville, speaks at a memorial service for the late boxer Muhammad Ali in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., June 10, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
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    Mourners crowd the venue for a public memorial service for the late boxer Muhammad Ali in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S. June 10, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson