Some looking to profit from free tickets to Ali services

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. —¬†Muhammad Ali, who long ago began crafting the plan for his final tribute, insisted the tickets for his memorial service be free. But on Wednesday, after the tickets were handed out, some people looked to make a profit.

People started arriving outside the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville late Tuesday, hours ahead of the ticket distribution. The line stretched around the arena. Thousands of tickets for Ali’s memorial service Friday were claimed on a first-come, first-served basis in about an hour.

Many fans of the boxing great flashed smiles, and some danced, upon getting their four-ticket allotments to be part of history. Thousands other left empty-handed.

Given the supply-and-demand factor for about 15,000 seats in the arena, some ticket holders immediately looked to cash in, going online offering to sell theirs to the star-studded event. Former President Bill Clinton, a longtime Ali friend, will eulogize the champ, who died Friday at 74 following a long fight with Parkinson’s disease.

Ali family spokesman Bob Gunnell denounced the profiteering.

“I’m personally disgusted and amazed that someone would try to profit off of Muhammad Ali’s memorial service,” he said.

“I hope that those buying tickets or trying to buy tickets would stop those efforts by not purchasing,” he added. “Muhammad Ali wanted this to be a free event, an event that was open to all.”

One of the posters offering to sell tickets, when reached by phone, said a friend of his sold tickets to the memorial service. When asked for how much, he hung up.

Others posted online pleas to buy tickets. One wrote that he and his mother were driving in from Chicago for the service and were willing to pay $50 for two tickets. Another wrote that he was flying in from California for the service and offered to pay someone $50 to stand in line for him for tickets to both the memorial service and the Jenazah, a traditional Muslim funeral being held Thursday at Freedom Hall.

But others unable to wait in line refused to pay for tickets to the event Ali insisted should be free.

“The Greatest wanted his funeral to be accessible to everyone instead of the money hungry spectacle that will be taking place on Friday,” one wrote in requesting someone give him tickets for free. “RIP Muhammad Ali, the Greatest of all time.”

Another poster wanted to sell tickets to the funeral. Thousands of free tickets were distributed this week for that event.

Basit Mohammad went online in hopes of finding someone willing to part with their tickets, at no cost, to the Jenazah.

At first, the 22-year-old from Virginia said he heard from several people willing to sell their tickets. He turned them down.

“I think it’s wrong,” Mohammad said. “It’s not how you commemorate someone, by making money off their death.”

Eventually, someone from the Louisville area contacted him with word that four tickets were available – for free.

“I’m glad that somebody has a heart out there,” Mohammad said.

Mohammad planned to head out for Louisville on Wednesday with three friends to pay tribute the three-time heavyweight champion and humanitarian.

“When will I ever have a chance to attend the funeral of someone that meant a lot to Islam and to our country?” he said.

Pacquiao plans to return to the ring Nov. 5

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LAS VEGAS (AP) Manny Pacquiao isn’t ready to give up his night job just yet.

Pacquiao, who said before his last fight in April that he would retire, now plans to return to the ring in November against an opponent who has yet to be selected.

Promoter Bob Arum said Tuesday that Pacquiao got permission to take a break from his new duties as a senator in the Philippines to take another fight. It will be held Nov. 5, likely in Las Vegas.

“He likes to fight and he likes the attention,” Arum said of Pacquiao’s return.

Pacquiao looked impressive in his last fight in April, returning from a layoff to knock down Timothy Bradley on his way to a unanimous decision. After the fight he wavered on his previous plans to retire.

“If you ask me to come back I don’t know,” Pacquiao said. “I may be enjoying retired life. I’m not there yet so I just don’t know.”

Pacquiao, who was formerly a congressman in his native country, was elected to the Senate in May and there were fears that increased duties would prevent him from fighting again.

But Arum said the head of the Senate told Pacquiao he was free to fight after the country’s budget is settled on Oct. 15.

“He would train in the Philippines and leave on the 16th to come to the U.S., train for two weeks and then come to Vegas,” Arum said. “The only issue is getting an arena for the fight.”

Arum said he is talking with MGM Resorts about an arena to host the fight. He had reserved the Mandalay Bay arena for Oct. 15, but Pacquaio can’t leave his Senate duties that early.

The fight also could be at the UNLV campus arena, he said, though UNLV would have to move a scheduled basketball exhibition from the date.

There were reports that Pacquiao might fight Adrien Broner, but Arum said he wanted the same money as Pacquiao, which was a non-starter. Another possible opponent would be Jesse Vargas, who fights for Top Rank, and holds a piece of the welterweight title.

Pacquiao was off for nearly a year after losing in May 2015 to Floyd Mayweather Jr., healing from a shoulder injury. But he seemed reinvigorated after beating Bradley in April in a performance that got good reviews from most, including trainer Freddie Roach.

“When I see Manny Pacquiao like that, this is the best Manny Pacquiao,” Roach said after the fight. “He hasn’t missed a beat. I would like to see him fight again.”

Laila Ali, Jaime Foxx pay tribute to Muhammad Ali

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Laila Ali paid tribute to her late father, sports icon Muhammad Ali, during the BET Awards on Sunday at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.

Ali, a retired boxer herself, started to choke up as she spoke about her father’s legacy and the outpouring of support since his death at the age of 74 on June 3 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.

“My father, Muhammad Ali, lived his life with conviction and purpose,” Ali said. “He is known as the greatest athlete of all time, a man who fearlessly faced opposition both in and outside the ring.”

Actor Jamie Foxx, who starred in the 2001 biopic about the icon’s life, “Ali,” as Ali’s cornerman Drew Bundini Brown, also spoke about the legend, noting that he stood up when no one else was doing so.

After getting a standing ovation, Ali stood in front of a photo of her father holding her as an infant and talked about her father’s evolution in his heart, mind and spirit over the course of his lifetime.

“These past few weeks my father’s generosity and love has been matched by a worldwide outpouring of love and reverence for him and our entire family,” Ali said.

“If he was here today, he would humbly ask you to pray not just for our family, but for all of mankind.”