Three-time world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali will be buried on Friday in Cave Hill cemetery in his Kentucky hometown of Louisville - a city that also remembers him for his skills as a singer and musician.

The funeral procession through the streets of Louisville will "allow anyone who is there from the world to celebrate with him," declared a family spokesman. The parade will follow the route which the triumphant Ali (then known as Cassius Clay) once took, following his victory at the Rome Olympics in 1960.

In Louisville, Ali is remembered as a great neighbour, as a poet, a singer and a philanthropist. "There's a lot of sadness, yes," Donald Lassere, the president of the Ali Center in Louisville told British newspaper The Observer. "But people also want to celebrate the variety of his accomplishments. He was an inspiration. To all types of people."

"Muhammad Ali became a symbol of hope and love, and among other things he was also a musician," said Teddy Abrams, conductor of the Louisville Orchestra. "He could sing. So we came out to bring some of that love and music to the people. Right now people could use a little hope."

                   Fans pose for photographs outside Muhammad Ali's childhood home on Saturday

In 1964, Ali made the Bubbling Under Hot 100 singles chart in the US with a cover of Stand By Me and I Am The Greatest. The latter performance earned him a Grammy nomination and he was nominated a second time in 1976 for Best Recording for Children for The Adventures of Ali and His Gang Vs. Tooth Decay.

Percussionist Jecorey Arthur - much better known under his rapper name 1200 - also paid tribute, saying that as a boy he felt Ali's influence acutely. "He wasn't just from Louisville," declared Arthur. "He was from West Louisville; I'm from West Louisville."

Louisville was a segregated city during Ali's youth, and the aspirant boxer grew up in a black middle-class neighbourhood. "But he made it," Arthur said. "Ali is forever."

Muhammad Ali died on Friday at a Phoenix, Arizona hospital, where he had been treated for respiratory complications, following a long battle with Parkinson's disease. Former US President Bill Clinton will give the eulogy at Ali's funeral, along with comedian Billy Crystal and news anchor Bryant Gumbel.


                       Teddy Abrams (left) and Jecorey Arthur play at a memorial to Muhammad Ali