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Obama ‘considering’ attending Ali funeral: mayor

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Obama (left, meeting Ali) still keeps a pair of Ali's gloves in the Oval Office underneath the photo of the then 22-year-old 'roaring like a lion over a fallen Sonny Liston.

Obama (left, meeting Ali) still keeps a pair of Ali’s gloves in the Oval Office underneath the photo of the then 22-year-old ‘roaring like a lion over a fallen Sonny Liston.

WASHINGTON, United States, June 5 – US President Barack Obama is weighing whether to attend the public memorial services for boxing legend Muhammad Ali later this week in Louisville, the Kentucky city’s mayor Greg Fischer told AFP on Sunday.

Louisville, the largest city in the southern US state, is preparing to welcome massive crowds on Friday, June 10, for a public procession and memorial service to honor Ali, who died Friday at age 74 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.

“We’ve been dreading this day for quite some time,” Fischer said.

“We’ve also been planning — as The Champ has been sick — for quite some time, and we handle big crowds in this city,” said the Democratic mayor of Louisville, which hosts the Kentucky Derby every year.

On Obama’s possible presence, Fischer said: “I know he is considering it.”

The White House did not offer a comment Sunday on his plans.

“A lot of this is going to materialize throughout the week, but clearly the interest” is huge, Fischer said.

“I don’t know if we have ever seen something quite like this before. There will be people coming from all over.”

Former president Bill Clinton and comedian Billy Crystal are due to speak at Friday’s ceremonies.

“The Champ was a supernatural figure who crossed all kinds of boundaries, from athletics to arts, to humanitarian activities, from black to white, from Christians to Islam, and he belongs to the world,” Fischer said.

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