Here's Why Obama Won't Be Attending Muhammad Ali's Funeral

Here's Why Obama Won't Be Attending Muhammad Ali's Funeral

He has a good reason.

Published June 8th

President Obama has the iconic photo of Muhammad Ali standing over a fallen Sonny Liston hanging up on his wall in the Oval Office with a pair of The Greatest's boxing gloves on display nearby.

Like thousands of fans, Obama was swift to react to the huge loss of Ali, who died Friday night at the age of 74releasing a full statement about the legendary three-time world heavyweight champion and world humanitarian and tweeting the following about the beloved global icon:

That being said, Obama will not be attending Ali's funeral procession Friday at the KFC Yum Center in the late boxer's hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. And he has a good reason for missing what's sure to be a memorable event.

Obama will be attending his daughter Malia's high school graduation in Washington, D.C., instead. (We told you it's a good reason.) President Obama has been eyeing this day for quite some time, even telling reporters in January that he turned down a request to speak at the graduation because he would "cry," so you already know he wasn't going to miss this for the world.

That being said, Obama did call Ali's widow, Lonnie, as confirmed by Ali family spokesperson, Bob Gunnell, to the BBC News. Obama and Michelle also wrote a letter to Ali's family.

Although Obama won't be attending Ali's funeral, the event will still have a presidential feel, as former Commander-in-Chief Bill Clinton is scheduled to speak.

In addition, former heavyweight boxing champion Lennox Lewis and Will Smith, who memorably portrayed The Greatest in the 2001 biopic Ali, will serve as pallbearers.

Friday's procession is open to the public and the demand to be present for the memorable farewell continues to swell.

For those who can't make it, though, the funeral is also slated to be streamed online.

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Written by Mark Lelinwalla

(Photos from left: Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images, Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for Norman Mailer Center)

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