Muhammad Ali’s doctor, Abraham Lieberman, said recent health concerns about the former champion are overblown.
Ali, 72, has been battling with Parkinson’s Syndrome since 1984. And according to theguardian.com, “The Greatest” has been unable to speak or leave his home in Arizona.
However, on the 40th anniversary of the legendary “Rumble in The Jungle” last Thursday, Ali attended the college football game between Florida State at his hometown team, Louisville. He was seen on television in a reserved box and received a rousing ovation from the stadium-record 55,414 fans when his image appeared on the replay screen at Papa John’s Stadium.
Lieberman said, “For someone who has had Parkinson’s for 30 years he is doing OK.”
Ali’s brother Rahman Ali told Sunday People that he hadn’t spoke to his brother about missing the premiere of the movie, I Am Ali, last month. He added that Ali doesn’t speak well, when he does speak.
Ali’s health, while it has been a concern for some time, is not alarming to Lieberman.
“I don’t see anything immediately that leads me to think that he is going to die in six months or a year,” the doctor said in an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live’s Sportsweek.
On Monday, family spokesperson Bob Gunnell told The Courier-Journal, “His speaking style is lower in tone, and as the day goes on, he doesn’t speak as well as he does in the morning. But Muhammad is a strong person for his age and the disease he has.”
The cause of Parkinson’s disease remains unknown. “It’s very difficult to factor in what sort of role boxing did play,” said Lieberman. Ali’s career in boxing may or may not have had anything to do with the reason he became inflicted with the disease. Lieberman said that Ali’s experience with the disease has been typical and that an MRI of his brain “looks pretty good.”
Michael J. Fox, Pope John Paul II, the late former NFL player Dave Jennings, the current head coach of Texas A&M basketball Billy Kennedy, and five time boxing Trainer of the Year Freddie Roach have all been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Seeing as it effects many people from different walks of life, it would be hard to pinpoint boxing as a major factor.
Lieberman also said that Ali’s health is no better or worse than most with Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease is a motor system disorder which is a result of the loss of dopamine producing brain cells. Symptoms include difficulty swallowing, chewing, and speaking. Parkinson’s disease persists over a long period of time as the symptoms grow worse. There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but medications can help manage the symptoms.