Amazing Kids! Magazine

The Champ and I

By Yusuf Khan, age 8, Illinois


Editor’s Note: This story is about Muhammad Ali – one of boxing’s most celebrated athletes, Olympic gold medalist in 1960, world heavyweight boxing champion in 1964, known for his public stance against the Vietnam War and his longtime battle with Parkinson’s disease, who died on June 3, 2016.

I went to the funeral of Muhammad Ali because a week before he died I did a report on him for school. So my dad and I woke up at 3:00 a.m. and left at 3:30 a.m. to leave for the funeral.

While I was at the funeral of Muhammad Ali (The Champ) in Kentucky, Sugar Ray Leonard walked in and the crowds burst into cheers. I was as surprised as a mouse seeing a cat. People began surrounding him when they spotted him. There were about 15,000 people there; people following different faiths and religions; people with many colors of skin – black, white, brown. The funeral took place in Freedom Hall. Freedom Hall is a place where Muhammad Ali used to box.

One of my favorite experiences was when the news reporters took photos of me with the Turkish president, President Erdogan. His wife pulled me close to him. I was right next to him.

A short time ago I watched a movie about Muhammad Ali and how he practiced his faith wherever he went. He always prayed right after he boxed. I thought of that during the funeral.

Imam Zaid Shakir led the funeral and helped a lot with the funeral. He gave speeches and led the funeral prayer.

People also presented speeches about Muhammad Ali. With all the commotion, the speeches were really hard to understand, especially for those attendees seated in the back rows. There were so many people everywhere, mostly in the front rows, so the back rows could not move ahead to hear better. I could not hear a thing!

It was hard to make the rows for the funeral prayer. Many men were trying to make the rows straight. Imam Zaid Shakir told the people of other faiths to leave the room because it was an Islamic funeral and they needed more space. We were more squished than a herd of elephants.

After the funeral a lot of people went to Ali Center. People left flowers for Ali. People also signed some quotes from Muhammad Ali on a big, rectangular, yellow banner. One of the quotes that most people signed was “I float like a butterfly, I sting like a bee, your hand can’t hit, what your eyes can’t see.”  I signed that one too.

Muhammad Ali is my greatest champ. I liked the funeral because they gave really good speeches. They also held it in Freedom Hall which is a place where Muhammad Ali boxed, like a tribute to the champion who remains alive in the heart.