Though Muhammad Ali fought many formidable foes throughout his boxing career, he also battled a much stronger opponent for over 30 years after his retirement. Parkinson’s disease became Ali’s ultimate challenge, but he faced it fearlessly and with positive determination. Vancouver Parkinson’s care experts discuss Ali’s life with Parkinson’s and the legacy he left behind.
The Beginning of Ali’s Battle
Though Ali was not diagnosed with Parkinson’s until 1984, he began developing its symptoms in the early 80s. His feet didn’t seem to move as fast as they once did, and the usually proud man slouched forward in a defeated position. His thinking was also beginning to be impaired, and his speech was slurring. At the time, many people assumed boxing had taken its toll on Ali’s body.
His Hidden Disease
The only way to truly diagnose Parkinson’s disease is by dissecting the brain, which isn’t possible in a living person. For this reason, it often takes trial and error to uncover the illness. However, it didn’t take long for a doctor to see Ali had limited muscle response time that was affecting his boxing and causing him to lose fights he might have otherwise won.
How He Moved on with Courage
Though some people might give up and falsely believe their lives are over after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, Ali never let it hold him back. He began treatment with supplements to increase his dopamine levels, which had dropped because of the illness. He then rose up and began empowering others with Parkinson’s and encouraging them to face the disease without fear.
How He Helped Others
Ali’s disease sparked a debate regarding how a man who seemed so healthy could have developed such a serious condition. Ali helped the Parkinson’s community by bringing awareness to the challenges people with the disease face. Hopefully, his legacy of strength and courage will inspire others facing the same struggle and remind them to fight until the end just as he did.
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