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 wins 60th career fight with seventh-round knockout

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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) Manny Pacquiao clinched his 60th victory with a seventh-round knockout Sunday of Argentinian Lucas Matthysse, his first stoppage in nine years.

Pacquiao said he worked hard but was surprised by the swift win in the World Boxing Association welterweight title fight.

Pacquiao rebounded from his disappointing loss last year to Australian Jeff Horn and his victory could extend his boxing career that had taken a backseat to his political life as a Filipino senator.

“This is part of boxing. You win some, you lose some,” Matthysse said. He hailed Pacquiao as a “great legend” and said he will take a break after his loss.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad also attended the fight, the biggest boxing match in the country since the 1975 heavyweight clash between Muhammad Ali and Australian Joe Bugner.

Duterte said: “I would like to congratulate Senator Manny Pacquiao for giving us pride and bringing the Filipino nation together once more.”

‘It’s about time’: Trump pardons late boxer Jack Johnson

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WASHINGTON (AP) President Donald Trump on Thursday granted a rare posthumous pardon to boxing’s first black heavyweight champion, clearing Jack Johnson’s name more than 100 years after what many see as his racially-charged conviction.

“It’s my honor to do it. It’s about time,” Trump said during an Oval Office ceremony, where he was joined by boxer Lennox Lewis and actor Sylvester Stallone, who has drawn awareness to Johnson’s cause.

Trump said Johnson had served 10 months in prison for what many view as a racially-motivated injustice and described his decision as an effort “to correct a wrong in our history.”

“He represented something that was both very beautiful and very terrible at the same time,” Trump said.

Johnson was convicted in 1913 by an all-white jury for violating the Mann Act, which made it illegal to transport women across state lines for “immoral” purposes, for traveling with his white girlfriend.

Trump had said previously that Stallone had brought Johnson’s story to his attention in a phone call.

“His trials and tribulations were great, his life complex and controversial,” Trump tweeted in April. “Others have looked at this over the years, most thought it would be done, but yes, I am considering a Full Pardon!”

Johnson is a legendary figure in boxing and crossed over into popular culture decades ago with biographies, dramas and documentaries following the civil rights era.

He died in 1946. His great-great niece has pressed Trump for a posthumous pardon, and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., have been pushing Johnson’s case for years.

The son of former slaves, Johnson defeated Tommy Burns for the heavyweight title in 1908 at a time when blacks and whites rarely entered the same ring. He then mowed down a series of “great white hopes,” culminating in 1910 with the undefeated former champion, James J. Jeffries.

McCain previously told The Associated Press that Johnson “was a boxing legend and pioneer whose career and reputation were ruined by a racially charged conviction more than a century ago.”

“Johnson’s imprisonment forced him into the shadows of bigotry and prejudice, and continues to stand as a stain on our national honor,” McCain has said.

Posthumous pardons are rare, but not unprecedented. President Bill Clinton pardoned Henry O. Flipper, the first African-American officer to lead the Buffalo Soldiers of the 10th Cavalry Regiment during the Civil War, and Bush pardoned Charles Winters, an American volunteer in the Arab-Israeli War convicted of violating the U.S. Neutrality Acts in 1949.

Linda E. Haywood, the great-great niece, wanted Barack Obama, the nation’s first black president, to pardon Johnson, but Justice Department policy says “processing posthumous pardon petitions is grounded in the belief that the time of the officials involved in the clemency process is better spent on the pardon and commutation requests of living persons.”

The Justice Department makes decisions on potential pardons through an application process and typically makes recommendations to the president. The general DOJ policy is to not accept applications for posthumous pardons for federal convictions, according to the department’s website. But Trump has shown a willingness to work around the DOJ process in the past.

Associated Press writer Zeke Miller contributed to this report.