Muhammad Ali's body arrives home in Louisville ahead of public funeral

Credit: Reuters
  • Video report by ITV News correspondent Emma Murphy

Muhammad Ali's body has arrived back in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, as the city prepares for a public funeral to celebrate his life next week.

A fleet of black cars arrived at the airport to take possession of the body on Sunday.

Louisville is expecting a huge influx of fans wishing to pay tribute to Ali,who rose from a local hero who rose to become a world-renowned sportsman and activist.

The boxer's brother, Rahman, wept openly at a memorial service attended by members of Ali's family.

He told ITV News he hoped for "love and happiness" for Ali's memory.

The boxer had received tributes from scores of high-profile admirers.

Among them was the US President Barack Obama, who said he "shook up the world and the world is better for it".

Bob Gunnell, the Ali family spokesman, speaking at news conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, said: "He'll be remembered as a man of the world who spoke his mind and wasn't afraid to take a chance and went out of his way to be a kind, benevolent individual that really changed the world."

Fans pay their respects to Muhammad Ali at the Ali Center Credit: Reuters

The heavyweight champion died of septic shock "due to unspecified natural causes", while being treated in hospital.

He had been admitted days earlier with respiratory issues linked to Parkinson's disease, with which he had been diagnosed in 1984.

Born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr in Louisville on 17 January, 1942, Ali was a three-time world heavyweight champion and considered to be one of the greatest boxers in history, but was also known for his outspoken, principled stance on civil rights issues.

Full details of the public memorial, dues to take place on Friday, will be revealed tomorrow.

It is understood that Ali himself helped plan the public service.