'He was my hero,': Saskatoon man reflects on Muhammad Ali

Muslims in Saskatoon had a chance to publicly remember the late boxer and outspoken activist on Friday afternoon, one week after his death.

Dozens of Saskatoon Muslims pay tribute to the renowned boxer

Saskatoon Muslims gathered together in memory of the late boxer and social activist Muhammad Ali. Women and girls were also in attendance, but in a separate room. (Chanss Lagaden/ CBC)

More than 200 Muslims in Saskatoon gathered together on Friday afternoon for a memorial service to honour the late boxer and activist Muhammad Ali.

After the regular Friday prayer, Imam Syed Soharwardy led the service that was put on by the Muslim Council of Saskatchewan and the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada. 

"It was so emotional," he said. "We feel as if he was a family member, a part of our family."

Soharwardy said much of the dialogue revolved around Ali's legacy, his contributions to society as well as his contributions to the Muslim community. 

A large group of Muslims in Saskatoon gathered together on Friday for Muhammad Ali. (Chanss Lagaden/ CBC)

He noted the late boxer has become a great inspiration to Muslim youth today, just as he was for his generation. 

"When i was a very young boy and Muhammad Ali was boxing, literally we used to pray for him, although it was just in sport." 

Now, he said he and his community look up to Ali beyond the ring.

"He fought not only his opponent in the boxing right, but he fought for human rights," he said. 

A memorial was held for Muhammad Ali in Saskatoon on Friday. At the same time, Ali's funeral procession took place at the Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky. (Chanss Lagaden / CBC)

Soharwardy feels lucky to have seen Ali speak in Saudi Arabia in 1993. 

"He is my hero." 

Last Friday, Ali died at 74-years-old after battling Parkinson's disease for decades. 

Soharwardy said he feels it is important that people look to the late boxer as a role model of their faith, rather than thinking terrorist organizations represent Islam. 

"We should not be looking towards these terrorists. Our youth should be looking towards Muhammad Ali."

The Saskatoon service for the boxing champion was held at Jamia Riyadul Jannah, located at 2233 Hanselman Ave. in Saskatoon.