SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, June 6, 2016 (Gephardt Daily) — Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch will speak and represent members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Friday at the memorial service for former heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali.
Ali died of septic shock on June 3 after being hospitalized for respiratory problems. Ali will be memorialized at an interfaith service Friday in his hometown of Louisville, Ky.
The champ requested the inclusive service before his death, according to Ali family spokesman Bob Gunnell.
“Everything that we’re doing here was blessed by Muhammad Ali and requested,” Gunnell said Monday at a news conference.
“He wanted the memorial service to reflect his life and how he lived. And he wanted everyone to be able to attend. He was the people’s champ, so we wanted the memorial service to reflect that.”
Hatch was reportedly a friend of Ali, whom he first met in 1988 when the champ came to the senator’s Washington office. Ali later supported Hatch on the campaign trail and made appearances at Hatch’s charity golf tournament.
The memorial will begin at 2 p.m. Eastern time, which is noon in the Mountain Time Zone. A public procession will begin five hours earlier.
Gunnell said California Muslim leader and scholar Zaid Shakir will preside over the service. Other scheduled speakers, besides Hatch, are Protestant minister Kevin Cosby, Rabbi Joe Rapport and Rabbi Michael Lerner.
Other faiths to be represented are Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and Catholicism. The Dalai Lama was invited, but was unable to attend.
Other speakers will include Ali’s wife, Lonnie Ali, daughter Maryum Ali, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, King Abdullah II of Jordan, actor Billy Crystal and sportscaster Bryant Gumbel. Former President Bill Clinton will deliver a eulogy.