SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – He was known as the “Louisville Lip”, thanks to his sharp patter and devastating wit which skewered his opponents both in and out of the ring.
These days the boxing legend Muhammad Ali is so stricken by the ravages of Parkinson’s disease that he can hardly speak, his brother has said.
He did not attend the Hollywood premier of a new film about his life, I Am Ali, last week. He was unable to take part in any filming although he is said to have given the project his support.
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.” As the three-time heavyweight champion of the world, Ali was almost impossible to beat, but his two-decade long fight against the degenerative brain condition is one battle he cannot win, his family says.
Parkinson’s is thought to afflict a high proportion of boxers because of the repeated blows they receive to the head during their careers.
The 72-year-old civil rights campaigner continued to appear in public until recently, although he was clearly showing signs of the disease.
He was a surprise flag bearer at the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics where fans, although delighted to see him, were shocked at his frail appearance.
Seven months earlier, he had enjoyed taking part in the celebrations for his 70th
birthday. Rahman Ali said that the boxer, who lives in Arizona with his wife, Lonnie, had become increasingly frail in the past year and was now largely housebound.
Born Cassius Clay in Louisville, Kentucky, in January 1942, Ali changed his name after converting to Islam in 1964. He later declared that Clay was his “slave name”.
Known for “talking trash” to his opponents as well as quoting his pre-match poems – including the promise to “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” – Ali is widely considered to be the greatest boxer who ever lived.
The new film uses the charismatic champion’s “audio journals” to provide an intimate portrait of his life, with a focus on his family.
Fellow boxers including Mike Tyson and George Foreman, who fought him in one of the most famous bouts in history, give interviews as do his children and other family members.
Ali’s daughter Maryum, 46, who also attended the screening, said: “He has not seen the film yet, but I am very excited for him to see it.
“He is going to love it. I know he is. He is going to cry, he is going to laugh. He will be very proud.”
Clare Lewins, the film’s director, said that another daughter, Hana, 38, was planning to show the film to him later this month.
A third daughter, Laila, is an undefeated super middleweight boxing champion.
Members of the Ali family have spoken in the past about their fears that his suffering has grown too great to bear.
In January, his son, Ali Jr, said he considered there was “no chance” of his father living another year.
He said: “I just want, hope and pray to God that this awful disease takes my dad sooner rather than later. Take him away from all the suffering he’s in.”
However, other family members, including his wife and other daughters, have rejected suggestions that he is close to death.
Source: The Telegraph