Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 7th 2016 Contents A53
Tuesday, June 7, 2016 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
TRIBUTE TO GREATNESS
LOUISVILLE---Muhammad Ali and his
innermost circle started a document years
ago that grew so thick they began calling
it "The Book."
Its contents will soon be revealed.
In the pages, the boxing great planned in
exacting detail how he wished to say good-
"The message that we ll be sending out
is not our message---this was really designed
by the champ himself," said Timothy Gian-
otti, as Islamic studies scholar who helped
for years to plan the services. "The love and
the reverence and the inclusivity that we re
going to experience over the coming days
is really a reflection of his message to the
people of planet earth."
The 74-year-old three-time heavyweight
champion wanted the memorial service in
an arena. He wanted multiple religions to
have a voice while honouring the traditions
of his Muslim faith. And he wanted ordinary
fans to attend, not just VIPs.
He was never downcast when talking
about his death, said Bob Gunnell, an Ali
family spokesman. He recalled Ali s own
words during meetings planning the funeral:
"It s OK. We re here to do the job the way
I want it. It s fine."
The final revisions were made days before
Ali died Friday at an Arizona hospital, his
family by his side.
For years, the plan was to have Ali s body
lie in repose at the Muhammad Ali Center
in Louisville, Gunnell said. That tribute was
dropped at the last minute because his wife,
Lonnie, worried it would cause the centre
to be shut down, and knew people would
want to gather there in grief.
In its place, a miles-long procession was
added that will carry Ali s body across his
beloved hometown. It will drive past the
museum built in his honour, along the boule-
vard named after him and through the
neighbourhood where he grew up, raced
bicycles and shadowboxed through the
In a city accustomed to capturing the
world s attention for just two minutes during
the Kentucky Derby each year, Ali s memorial
service Friday looms as the most historic
event in Louisville s history. Former pres-
idents, heads of nations from around the
globe, movie stars and sports greats will
descend upon Louisville to pay final respects
to The Louisville Lip.
"It s been a really bittersweet time for
our city," Mayor Greg Fischer said. "We ve
all been dreading the passing of the Champ,
but at the same time we knew ultimately
it would come. 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
President Bill Clinton, a longtime friend,
will deliver the eulogy at the funeral at the
KFC Yum! Centre, where the 15,000 seats
are likely to be filled.
Others speakers will include representa-
tives of multiple faiths, including Islam,
Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Mor-
monism and Catholicism. They will be fol-
lowed by Ali s wife, daughter Maryum Ali,
actor Billy Crystal, sportscaster Bryant Gum-
bel, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
and King Abdullah II of Jordan.
The day before his star-studded funeral,
members of Ali s Islamic faith will get their
chance to say a traditional goodbye to Ali.
A Jenazah, a traditional Muslim funeral serv-
ice, will be held at Freedom Hall in Louisville
at noon Thursday, Gunnell said. It will be
open to all.
They chose the venue because it seats
18,000 and holds historical significance for
the hometown hero. Ali fought, and won,
his first professional fight there in 1960.
Gianotti said yesterday the Muslim funeral
service was "critically important for the
global Muslim community to say goodbye
to their beloved champ."
The inner circle that helped the Alis with
funeral preparations included his attorney
and a business associate, Gunnell said. The
group presented "The Book"---about two
inches thick with funeral details---to Ali in
2010, he said.
"Muhammad, over the course of about
a week, went through the entire plan and
signed it and certified it and approved it,"
Ali s burial will be in Cave Hill Cemetery
in Louisville, the final resting place for many
of the city s most prominent citizens of the
19th and 20th centuries. The luminaries
include Colonel Harland Sanders, the
founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Ali s gravesite will far more subdued, in
contrast to his oversized personality and
life. A modest marker, in accord with Muslim
tradition, is planned, his attorney, Ron Tweel,
said Monday. He would not say what words
will be inscribed on the marker. (AP)
Ali scripted funeral
in detail in 'The Book'
Stephen Curry has withdrawn from consideration
from the Olympics, leaving the US basketball team
without the NBA s MVP.
Curry said Monday in a statement that he has
decided to pull out for "several factors---including
recent ankle and knee injuries."
He didn t say what the other factors were that he
referenced. Several athletes have expressed concerns
about the water situation in Rio and the Zika virus.
The guard is the highest-profile absence for the
two-time defending gold medalists, who will already
be without NBA All-Stars Chris Paul and Anthony
Curry has won a pair of world titles with the Amer-
icans and was a starter when they won the 2014 Bas-
ketball World Cup. He had spoken of wanting the
chance to win Olympic gold, but missed six games
in the postseason with a right knee injury.
"My previous experiences with USA Basketball
have been incredibly rewarding, educational and
enjoyable, which made this an extremely difficult
decision for me and my family," Curry said. "However,
due to several factors---including recent ankle and
knee injuries---I believe this is the best decision for
me at this stage of my career."
Curry said he had spoken with his family, the War-
riors and his representatives, and recently informed
USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo that he
would not go to Brazil.
"Obviously we are disappointed that Steph will
not be available this summer, but we understand
these situations arise and we are fully supportive of
his decision," Colangelo said.
Curry s decision to withdraw was first reported
by the Mercury News.
The Americans have a list of 31 players in their
roster pool for this summer---and plan to name their
12-man roster later this month.
Curry, the first player to be voted a unanimous
MVP and the league s leading scorer, certainly would
have been on it. He started all nine games for the
Americans in Spain, averaging 10.7 points, and his
USA Basketball experience dates to when he played
for the under-19 team in 2007 that won a silver
He could have been the team s biggest star in Rio,
with Kobe Bryant retired and LeBron James still
uncommitted. But Curry decided it s more important
that he rest, following a demanding regular season
in which the Warriors set the NBA record with 73
victories, and a postseason run that s included ankle
and elbow injuries on top of the sprained knee.
"It s an incredible honour to represent your country
and wear USA on your chest, but my primary bas-
ketball-related objective this summer needs to focus
on my body and getting ready for the 2016-17 NBA
season," Curry said.
The Warriors, who have a 2-0 lead over Cleveland
in the NBA Finals, could still have a strong presence
at the Olympics. Klay Thompson, Draymond Green,
Andre Iguodala and Harrison Barnes remain candi-
dates for the US team, while Andrew Bogut (Australia),
Anderson Varejao and Leandro Barbosa (Brazil) and
Festus Ezeli (Nigeria) are on the rosters of their coun-
Paul, who won two golds with the US, had already
opted not to play this time, and fellow point guards
John Wall of Washington and Mike Conley of Mem-
phis are coming off injuries. The Americans still have
Oklahoma City s Russell Westbrook, Cleveland s Kyrie
Irving and Portland s Damian Lillard as possibilities
at the position.
But Curry likely would have started either ahead
of them or alongside one in the US backcourt, as he
did as the shooting guard next to Irving in 2014. He
made 43.8 per cent of his attempts then from the
shorter international three-point arc, and the Amer-
icans will miss his shooting against the zone defences
they face. Colangelo said he had been in contact with
Curry since his injuries and was aware the decision
to withdraw was possible.
Curry won't be on
US team in Rio
NEW YORK---Laila Ali says she ll miss
her legendary father deeply, but doesn t
feel alone in her grief because "the whole
world is sad."
The daughter of Muhammad Ali, who
died Friday in Arizona at age 74 following
a long battle with Parkinson s disease, tells
NBC s Today show yesterday that her father
is "not suffering anymore."
When asked whether he had grown weary
of fighting the condition, Ali said death was
one of the things her father feared and "he
definitely wouldn t want to just move on."
Ali says she ll remember him as "a loving
father," who "always puts children first."
She says she just told her own children
about their grandfather s death yesterday
Ali, a former boxing champion herself,
says she shares her father s trademark con-
Laila: My father is 'not suffering anymore'
In this June 5, 1991, file
photo, former world
Ali prays in the mosque
at his former training
camp in Deer Lake,
Pennsylvania. The day
before his star-studded
funeral, members of
Islamic faith will get
their chance to say a
traditional goodbye to
the Champ. Bob
Gunnell, a spokesman
for Ali's family,
that a Jenazah, a
funeral service, will be
held at Freedom Hall in
Louisville, Kentucky, at
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