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Religious, foreign dignitaries welcomed to interfaith service for Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali's memorial service Friday in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, will represent many faiths, as the three-time heavyweight champion wished.

According to Ali family spokesman Bob Gunnell, ministers from multiple faiths will be at the service, which will be led by California imam and scholar Zaid Shakir. Other scheduled speakers include Protestant ministerKevin Cosby,Rabbi Michael Lerner,Rabbi Joe Rapport and Sen. Orrin Hatch, who is a Mormon.

"It's only fitting that the people have the opportunity to send him off with a very robust commemoration, so we thank the family for that," Shakir said Monday at a news conference.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and King Abdullah II of Jordan will be among the foreign dignitaries attending. The Dalai Lama was invited to the memorial but cannot attend, Gunnell said.

Ticket information for the service at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville will be announced Monday afternoon. Eulogies from Ali's wife Lonnie, Billy Crystal, Bryant Gumbel and President Bill Clinton are planned for the 2 p.m. ET memorial, which will be preceded by a public procession.

On Thursday,a 30-minute Islamic funeral prayer will be held at Freedom Hall starting at noon ET. Ali's final fight in Louisville, against Willi Besmanoff on Nov. 29, 1961, was held in Freedom Hall.

About 18,000 people will be able to attend the prayer service. Ticketing information for that event will also be released Monday afternoon.

Gunnell said Monday that the family has been working on the details of these public memorials for the past 10 years or so.

"Everything that we're doing here was blessed by Muhammad Ali and requested," Gunnell said. "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."

Ali died June 3 from septic shock due to unspecified natural causes. Ali spent the final hour of his life surrounded by his family after initially being hospitalized in the Phoenix area on May 30.

Information from ESPN staff writer Coley Harvey and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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