Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Ali Makes His Final Journey Home as Calls Grow for London Statue to 'The Greatest'

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Ali Makes His Final Journey Home as Calls Grow for London Statue to 'The Greatest'

Article excerpt

Byline: Sophia Sleigh and Kiran Randhawa

MUHAMMAD ALI'S body has arrived in his hometown of Louisville where he will be laid to rest following a public funeral procession expected to attract thousands of mourners.

The boxing legend's body arrived in the US state of Kentucky on a private jet from Arizona, where he died on Friday night. As his family prepared to bury him next Friday, sports stars and the Mayor of London today called for a permanent memorial to be erected in the capital to honour the three-time world heavyweight champion.

Sadiq Khan said a memorial in London would be a "fitting legacy" to the man he described as his "hero".

Former world champion boxer Chris Eubank and Paralympics star David Weir backed the proposals and called for a statue of Ali to be built.

This follows ex-world heavyweight champion David Haye launching a petition in February urging David Cameron to push for an honorary knighthood for the boxing legend. Bradley Wiggins, Doreen Lawrence, Mo Farah, Shane Warne, Boris Johnson and Steve Redgrave were among the signatories. Eubank said he was willing to fund a statue in London and added: "The best way we can pay homage and respect to the man is to have a monument. Hyde Park is where it should be. He was a man who loved children and worked to highlight the plight of the poor and disenfranchised. I'm willing to put my own money into this as a tribute to a man who is responsible for my success.

"He was a beacon. I looked up to him from childhood. The vibrancy he created for working- class people was just amazing. I won my world championship because of Muhammad Ali. He showed me how to get respect."

Wheelchair athlete Weir, who won four gold medals at London 2012, said: "I think it's a great idea to have Muhammad Ali permanently remembered in London. I remember watching his fights as a youngster. …

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