Muhammad Ali, the man once as famous for his sharp tongue as he was for his ferocious fists, now has difficulty speaking due to his ongoing fight with Parkinson’s disease.
The boxing legend, 72, who has been battling debilitating Parkinson’s disease for years, has become increasingly frail and is now largely housebound. And fresh health fears were sparked after he was too ill to attend the premiere of a new movie about his life last week and could not take part in any of the filming.
Speaking at the screening of I Am Ali in Hollywood, his brother Rahman, 71, told the Sunday People: ‘I have not been able to talk to my brother about this because he is sick.
‘He doesn’t speak too well. But he is proud that we are here for him. He has given this film his blessing.’
The film is a closer look at Ali’s family life and, according to Hind’s report, also includes excerpts from former boxers like George Foreman and Mike Tyson. Sadly, Ali has not yet been able to see the film.
While the film looks like a fascinating and touching look back at the life of one of the most impactful public figures of the 20th century, it’s difficult to hear of Ali’s health deteriorating at the same time.
A person who once seemed larger than life as a younger man, Ali’s public appearances have now become rather rare, highlighted by his presence in the 2012 Opening Ceremony at the London Olympics.
But a film being released about his life at this time is also a reminder that Ali’s legacy is not his ongoing battle with Parkinson’s.
What we’ll remember is his gold medal and his fights against Joe Frazier. We’ll remember him triumphing over Sonny Liston and George Foreman, or being needled by Howard Cosell. We’ll remember him changing his name from Cassius Clay for religious reasons. We’ll remember him refusing to fight in Vietnam and standing by the decision, even when he was arrested.
And of course, we’ll remember “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”
Parkinson’s disease has taken a lot from Ali. What it can’t take is his legacy.