• Boxing

Ali doctor plays down health fears

ESPN staff
November 2, 2014
Muhammad Ali has been suffering from Parkinson's disease since 1984 © Getty Images

Muhammad Ali's doctor has played down reports that the former world heavyweight champion's health is deteriorating.

Ali has had Parkinson's disease since 1984 and last month his brother revealed the condition had advanced to such as stage that he is barely able to speak or leave his Arizona home.

However, speaking to the BBC, Dr. Abraham Lieberman insisted Ali's life was not in any imminent danger.

"I don't know that he is more or less at risk than anyone else but anything can happen," Lieberman said. "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. They develop trouble swallowing, they develop pneumonia, fall and bang their heads. His family take extraordinary care of him."

Ali looked frail when he appeared at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics and, more recently, was unable to attend the premiere of a documentary about his life - titled 'I am Ali' - in Hollywood last month.

Lieberman admitted Ali has trouble moving but is being well looked after as he copes with the disease.

"He is in good spirits," added Lieberman, who is also the director of the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Centre. "He has some trouble walking but, overall, for someone who has had Parkinson's for 30 years he is doing OK.

"He generally goes three or four times a week for active physical therapy, he has someone who does stretching exercises for him. He has a lot of trouble speaking but he is very glad when he has visitors."

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