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Best quotes from Ali memorial service

Louisville, United States | AFP |

The following are a selection of key quotes from Friday’s public memorial service honoring boxing legend Muhammad Ali, who died last week at age 74 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease:

Soldier for humanity
“Besides being a lot of fun to be around and basically a universal soldier for our common humanity, I will always think of Muhammad as a truly free man of faith.” — former US president Bill Clinton

“He had charm and charisma and swagger, before we knew what that was.” — Long-time friend John Ramsey

Role of cops
“One should never forget that when a cop and an inner-city kid talk to each other, then miracles can happen.  — Lonnie Ali, Muhammad Ali’s widow, telling a story about the police officer who befriended a young Cassius Clay after his bike was stolen

“If Muhammad did not like the rules, he would rewrite them. His religion, his name, his beliefs, were his to fashion, no matter what the cost.” — Ali’s wife Lonnie

Man for the ages
“The greatness of this man for the ages was that he was, in fact, a man for all ages…. He fought not just the biggest and baddest inside the ropes but, outside, went toe-to-toe with critics.” — sports journalist Bryant Gumbel

Face of America
“Muhammad Ali was America. Muhammad Ali will always be America.” — Senior presidential aide Valerie Jarrett, reading a tribute from President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle

“He dared to love black people at a time when black people had a problem loving themselves.” — Senior Pastor Kevin Cosby, St Stephen’s Baptist Church



“He may have been a tough man in the ring but he was a compassionate and tender man around those he loved.” — Senator Orrin Hatch, speaking as a member of the Mormon faith

Heart of Louisville
“Muhammad Ali was the heart of this city — the living, breathing embodiment of the greatest that we can be.” — Rabbi Joe Rapport

Friend of Malcolm X
“Having Muhammad Ali in my life somehow sustained my dad’s breath for me just a little while longer — 51 years longer until now.” — Attallah Shabazz, daughter of slain Nation of Islam leader Malcolm X.

Conscientious objector
“At the key moment when he had that recognition, he used it to stand up to an immoral war and say, ‘No, I won’t go’.” — Rabbi Michael Lerner, speaking about Ali’s refusal to serve in Vietnam



“I was clean-shaven when this started.” — Comedian Billy Crystal, sporting a full beard, joking about length of the service

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