Turkish president was reportedly denied opportunity to place piece of cloth from Kaaba on Ali’s coffin


news54sf54fs54sf45Controversy broke out in the run-up to the funeral of boxing legend Muhammad Ali when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pulled out after being denied an opportunity to speak.

Tens of thousands of people were anticipating the funeral procession of the former heavyweight champion through his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, while free tickets for the 18,000-person funeral service at the city’s KFC Yum! Centre were quickly snapped up.

The funeral cavalcade was to begin at 9am local time and take the coffin past his childhood home, the Ali Center, the Center for African American Heritage and then down Muhammad Ali Boulevard.

Numerous celebrities and political figures were set to attend, including comedian Billy Crystal, singer-songwriter Yusuf Islam, actor Will Smith and former President Bill Clinton, who was to deliver a eulogy.

Erdogan had initially been pushing to speak at Ali’s funeral service, and did attend an Islamic prayer service held on Thursday.

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