APDM Remembers Muhammad Ali

WITH THE RECENT LOSS OF ATHLETE AND HUMANITARIAN MUHAMMAD ALI, APDM REMEMBERS HIS LEGACY AND THE GREAT CONTRIBUTIONS HE MADE TO OUR COMMUNITY.

Muhammad Ali was one of the most charismatic athletes of all time. His legendary boxing career is one of the many things he will be remembered for. His fight with Parkinson’s Disease is another.

Ali fought a three-decade long battle with the disease, and did so with the dignity of a true fighter. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1984, just three years after announcing his retirement from boxing. Like many of those with PD, Ali developed symptoms that visually told a story of his struggle. He exhibited a tremor, slurred speech, and a masked face towards the end of his life.

Before his death on June 3, Ali was hospitalized with respiratory problems. His condition was said to have been complicated by Parkinson’s; causing a symptom that many people are unaware of. Similar to freezing of gait or tight muscles, breathing can be severely restricted by rigid core muscles. These muscles can cramp up and make inhalation and exhalation of the lungs very difficult. Poor breathing ability can also contribute to a soft-spoken voice. Those with Parkinson’s can develop rigid core muscles, making their already limited movement increasingly difficult. This may have something to do with the fact that Ali had not verbally communicated in public years before his death.

Born Cassius Marcellus Clay in 1942, he grew up to win an Olympic gold medal in 1960, and became the World Heavyweight Boxing Champion in 1964. At the 1960 Olympics, a young 18-year-old Clay became known as the “Mayor of Olympic Village” with his expansive personality and larger-than-life attitude. After building a close personal relationship with Malcolm X, a key figure of the Nation of Islam movement, Cassius insisted people refer to him as Muhammad Ali, denouncing his given name as the name of a slave.

Ali spent many of the remaining years of his life traveling the world, not only boxing, but contributing to social causes and inspiring those with Parkinson’s Disease. He also created and raised funds for the Muhammad Ali Parkinson’s Center in Phoenix, Arizona, and remained an active public and humanitarian figure until his recent death.

APDM thanks Muhammad Ali for his support, dedication, and contributions to the Parkinson’s community.

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