Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 12th 2016 Contents A53
June 12, 2016 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY---He carried
a dozen roses into Cave Hill Cemetery
and headed for a patch of grass in the
back corner that seemed too ordinary
for the man buried beneath it.
Farzam Farrokhi had worried there
would be a horde of people yesterday
morning elbowing for a place among
the first to see Muhammad Ali s grave.
Instead he found a quiet and reverent
stream of visitors. There was not yet
a headstone marking the spot. No rope
cordoned off those wishing to kneel,
pray or kiss the grave.
It would have looked like any unre-
markable rectangle of fresh sod had
people not been snapping photos. A
few brought flowers, one left a tiny set
of boxing gloves. A man unfurled an
Islamic flag and laid it alongside the
Farrokhi, a native of Iran, drove 12
hours from his home in Queens, New
York, for Ali s funeral. He was grateful
for no massive crowds so he could sit
and reflect on the life and the death of
The Greatest, who suffered for years
with Parkinson s disease.
"I can t imagine a heart like Ali s
being stuck in a body where he can t
do what he wants to do. Now he can
be free," he said. "Maybe he s shaking
up the next world already."
Ali was buried Friday in a corner of
his hometown s historic Cave Hill
Cemetery, 300 acres famous for its
beauty and wildlife.
Ali picked the site himself. He toured
the cemetery s twisting paths and tow-
ering trees and decided on this spot
just across from a flower patch and a
lake, with a fountain that babbles day
and night. Four geese moseyed across
the road nearby Saturday morning.
His headstone will be simple when
it s installed, in keeping with Muslim
tradition. It will be inscribed with just
one word: Ali.
Jake and Janell Bessler drove from
Evansville to see it Saturday. On the
way, they told their 4-week-old daugh-
ter, Violet, sleeping in her car seat,
about the boxing great and what he
meant to the world.
"We told her this is history, you get
to be a part of it," Janell said. They sat
her in front of the grave and snapped
a photo, so she ll be able to see it one
Visitors trickled in from near and far.
James Terry, a Louisville native, carried
a map of the cemetery, marking the
family plot on the other side where he
will one day be buried. He delighted
at the idea he will share the same dirt
as The Champ.
Roy Johnson, a long-haul truck driver
from Colton, California, was delivering
a load a paper to New Jersey when the
heard about Ali s death. It broke his
heart, he said. Ali made him believe,
as a little black boy, that greatness was
possible if he fought for it hard enough
and never wavered.
Johnson was planning to visit his
son, stationed at Fort Campbell on the
Kentucky-Tennessee border during his
trip. He drove about 100 miles out of
his way to be among the first to see
Ali s grave.
"My heart is beating really fast right
now, I m in awe of this moment," he
said. "I never got a chance to meet him
when he was alive. Now he s just a few
feet away. It s just beautiful to be stand-
Farrokhi stopped at a florist on the
way and surveyed the bouquets of roses.
They had bunches in red and yellow
and white. Then he found one that
mixed all the colors.
"When you think of Ali s fans, they re
every color," he said. "It seemed right,
that s how he wanted the world to be."
He pulled the flowers off the stems
one by one, crushed the petals between
his fingers and sprinkled them on top
of Ali s grave, rows of magenta yellow,
red and white. He repeated it 11 times
until he got to the last flower, a pale
pink one. He kneeled and laid it whole
at Ali s feet. (AP)
MUHAMMAD ALI TRIBUTE
...as fans pay homage at grave
Farzam Farrokhi, an Iranian native now living in
New York, visits the grave of boxing great
Muhammad Ali, yesterday, in Louisville, Kentucky.
Cave Hill Cemetery opened to the public
yesterday, the day after Ali's burial. AP PHOTOS
Muhammad Ali was trying to
win a fourth heavyweight
championship in the late 1970s,
he came to the United Nations
to campaign against apartheid
and injustice and presented then
secretary-general Kurt Wald-
heim with one of his drawings
Nearly 20 years later, Ali
returned to UN headquarters to
be named one of the first UN
Messengers of Peace, an honour
reserved for distinguished people
from the arts, music, literature
and sports who agree to focus
world attention on the work of
the United Nations.
Then secretary-general Kofi
Annan, who started the pro-
gramme in 1997, said "I chose
him because I knew his interest
in peace and in the world."
He said that Ali confirmed
that interest with another gift to
the United Nations---a drawing
of the globe with the inscription:
"Service to others is rent we pay
here on this earth."
"It was so powerful," Annan
said in a phone interview
Wednesday with The Associated
Press from Geneva. "Obviously,
he had lost his speed, his vitality
and energy, but the concern for
others and the love for peace was
very much visible."
At the ceremony in Annan s
office on Sept. 15, 1998 where
Ali officially became a Messenger
of Peace, Annan pinned a small
golden dove on his lapel and gave
him a videotape of his 1979
speech to the UN Special Com-
mittee Against Apartheid. Ali
gave Annan a pair of his red box-
"He said, I don t need it any
more, you take them, " Annan
Ali s wife, Lonnie, who acted
as a spokeswoman for the once
articulate boxer who had diffi-
culty speaking because of his
Parkinson s disease, said the
gloves were symbolic, on her
husband s part, because every-
thing was a struggle.
Despite being slowed by the
disease, Ali remained strongly
committed to his new role.
"He would regularly go off on
humanitarian trips, taking the
title of UN Messenger of Peace
with him, because that s just
something he loved to do," said
Yvonne Acosta, the manager of
the messengers who at the time
included Holocaust survivor and
author Elie Wiesel, actor Michael
Douglas, chimpanzee research
pioneer Jane Goodall and opera
star Luciano Pavaroti.
She said that the highlight for
Ali was a three-day trip he made
to Afghanistan in November
2002---not long after the U.S.
invasion toppled the Taliban fol-
lowing al-Qaida s Sept 11, 2001
attacks on the United States.
"The choice of Afghanistan---
it was his choice," Acosta said.
"He came to us and said this is
something he would like to do,
to raise the profile of a Muslim
country...This was the beginning
of the war with Afghanistan and
he wanted to show support for
his Muslim brothers and sisters."
The Taliban had banned girls
from going to school and she
said Ali wanted to highlight the
revival of education for girls as
well as employment for women,
who had been barred from work.
UN honoured Ali's lifelong
commitment to peace and rights
FILE---In this October 23, 2000, file photo, UN Secretary-General
Kofi Annan, left, jokes with boxing great Muhammad Ali during a
photo session with UN Messengers of Peace at the United
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