Muhammad Ali Parkinson's disease: Doctor downplays health fears over former world heavyweight boxer

"I don't see anything immediately that leads me to think that he is going to die in six months or a year," Dr. Abraham Lieberman told BBC Radio 5 Live

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The Independent Online

Muhammad Ali's personal doctor has addressed speculation over the decline of the legendary boxer's health.

The former world heavyweight champion, now 72, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease – a degenerative brain condition – in 1984.

Reports suggesting that the sportsman had grown increasingly unwell surfaced after he missed the premiere for his own film, I Am Ali, in Hollywood in October.

“I have not been able to talk to my brother about this because he is sick,” Rahman, 71, told the Sunday People at the screening.

“He doesn’t speak too well. But he is proud that we are here for him. He has given this film his blessing.”

His words followed those of Ali’s son, Ali Jnr's, in January.  He said believed there was “no chance” his father would survive until the end of 2014.


“I just want, hope and pray to God that this awful disease takes my dad sooner rather than later,” he said.

But Dr. Abraham Lieberman has since told BBC Radio 5 Live on Sportsweek that he didn’t see that Ali was “more or less at risk than anyone else but anything can happen”.

“I don't see anything immediately that leads me to think that he is going to die in six months or a year.

“People do not die of Parkinson's,” he added. “They develop trouble swallowing, they develop pneumonia, fall and bang their heads. His family take extraordinary care of him.”

“He is in good spirits,” Lieberman, the director of the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Centre, continued.

“He has some trouble walking but, overall, for someone who has had Parkinson's for 30 years he is doing OK.”

The update follows the 40th anniversary of Rumble in the Jungle – Ali’s legendary fight with George Foreman in Kinshasa, Zaire which saw him win the world title with an eighth round KO.