It was announced on Saturday, June 4 that Bill Clinton, husband of current Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and former president, is planning to deliver a eulogy at the memorial service for Muhammad Ali.
Ali, legendary heavyweight boxer, died at age 74 on Friday, June 3, after fighting Parkinson’s disease for decades.
Along with Clinton, Bryant Gumbel, a television journalist and sportscaster, and Billy Crystal, an actor, writer, producer, director, comedian, and television host are also scheduled to lead the eulogies. All other eulogists, a spokesman for Ali’s family said during a press conference on Saturday, have not yet been confirmed.
Clinton’s connection with Ali goes back to 2001, when he awarded the three-time world heavyweight champion the Presidential Citizens Medal at the White House. The Clinton family released the following statement after Ali’s death was announced:
‘Hillary and I are saddened by the passing of Muhammad Ali. From the day he claimed the Olympic gold medal in 1960, boxing fans across the world knew they were seeing a blend of beauty and grace, speed and strength that may never be matched again. We watched him grow from the brash self-confidence of youth and success into a manhood full of religious and political convictions that led him to make tough choices and live with the consequences. Along the way we saw him courageous in the ring, inspiring to the young, compassionate to those in need, and strong and good-humored in bearing the burden of his own health challenges.
I was honored to award him the Presidential Citizens Medal at the White House, to watch him light the Olympic flame, and to forge a friendship with a man who, through triumph and trials, became even greater than his legend. Our hearts go out to Lonnie, his children, and his entire family.’
The funeral service and procession for Muhammad Ali will take place Thursday, June 9 in Louisville, Kentucky, which is Ali’s birthplace and hometown. It will also include an interfaith service for friends and family.
The interfaith service will be directed by an imam, a Muslim leader, but will include representation from a variety of religions. Among those representatives is former senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who will represent the Mormon faith. According to the Ali family’s spokesman, the “funeral plans were done years ago by Mr. Ali, who discussed them personally.”
Watch Clinton award Ali the Presidential Citizens Medal below, courtesy of AP Archive via YouTube.
Featured image via Getty.