The Ali family is having a fairly public feud about the condition of their most famous family member, Muhammad Ali, the three-time former heavyweight champion. Muhammad Ali has been suffering from Parkinson’s for a long time now, and the former heavyweight champion of the world in boxing never made a secret about it. However, according to his brother, Rahman Ali, the icon’s condition has been deteriorating even further recently. Specifically, Rahman claimed that Muhammad Ali can barely talk, and hardly ever leaves his house. He cited these conditions as the reason that the former champion did not attend the premiere of a new movie about him that had a premiere in Hollywood last week. It was the second time in the last couple of years that Rahman has made such a claim.
But while Ali’s brother, Rahman, has stated that the former boxer’s level of suffering from Parkinson’s disease has increased recently, other members of the Ali family, such as his daughters, Maryum and Hana, have refuted that and suggested exactly the opposite. They maintain that he is not in any pain, is generally in good health, and that his life continues to be fulfilling. He does not want people to feel sorry for him. Hana says that she calls and talks to him every day, and that he seems in good spirits, even joking that he will make a comeback in boxing. Maryum agrees with this, and stressed that he has been battling this disease for thirty years now. According to her, Muhammad Ali has fought this disease in much the same spirit as he did with his opponents during his boxing career, and has donated a lot of money towards further research and increasing awareness.
Other members of the Ali family, as well as the family spokesman, disputed Rahman’s assertion that the former champion’s medical condition was deteriorating very rapidly. They dismissed the notion that the health of the ex-champion was as dire as Rahman Ali suggests. Another of Muhammad Ali’s daughters, Rasheda, posted a picture of the Hollywood premiere with her uncle, Rahman, absent, although other pictures show him there. The Ali family spokesman, Bob Gunnell, told The Courier-Journal based in the former champ’s hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, that Ali was doing fairly well, considering his age, as well as the disease that he is combatting. He did concede that the champion is soft-spoken, and that his ability to speak tends to deteriorate as the day progresses. But Gunnell emphasized that Ali’s health has not reached a point where it is time to worry, and that if it were to reach that point, a statement would be issued.
This is not the first time that Gunnell issued a statement following allegations from Rahman Ali that the champ’s health condition had reached a level of extreme severity. When Rahman claimed that his famous brother was on his deathbed, and might only have days to live, Gunnell denied it, and said that Muhammad Ali was hosting a Super Bowl party. Another Ali family member, Laila Ali, Muhammad Ali’s daughter, posted a picture of him during the party that he was hosting to illustrate that he was alive and well.
The Ali family feud regarding the health condition of the ex-champion comes at a time when the family is under the media microscope more than usual, as a new documentary movie, I Am Ali, will focus on the life of the former boxing champion. It is slated for release in Britain late next month. The film explores Ali’s childhood, his rise to prominence in boxing, and his legacy both inside and outside of the boxing ring. Ali fought in legendary matches that are considered some of the greatest boxing matches in history, and he won most of them. But the film will also document his political activism, including his refusal to go to Vietnam when drafted, a move that lost him the heavyweight championship that belonged to him at the time, although he would later successfully fight win it back. It will also allow viewers to see new footage of Muhammad Ali with his family.
By Charles Bordeau