Muhammed Ali's daughters: 'We are sad and laughing - that's what he'd want'

  • 07/06/2016

Preparations are underway for a private funeral service for legendary boxer Muhammad Ali on Friday.

It will be followed by a public memorial in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, a city that some believe is as segregated today as when Ali, a hero of the Civil Rights movement, first put it on the map.

His body has been flown back to his hometown, a hearse taking the coffin through empty streets and to a local funeral home, ahead of private events on Thursday and then a very public memorial on Friday.

Two of Ali's daughters, twins Rasheed and Jamila, have spoken to ITV News, describing their final farewell to the father they loved.

"We gave him kisses on both sides of his cheek. Rasheeda got him one side. We took turns. We were kissing him. We were whispering things in his ears.

"I said a prayer to him in his ear and then I know he heard every word, every bit of everything we were saying to him," Jamila says.

"We are sad and laughing at the same time -- that's what dad would want."

Tourists from out of town are arriving at Ali's modest childhood home while locals take photographs, a sense of pride very evident.

But in a real sense, Ali's lifelong battle to confront discrimination and campaign for change in Louisville has only just begun.

The city remains, in churches, housing and schooling, largely segregated; not legally, but socially and economically.

As Louisville prepares to say goodbye to its greatest son, the city is still trying to overcome its past -- but there's also no doubt Ali did more than anyone here to highlight the same racial divide and work to overcome it.

ITV News