Since Muhammad Ali’s death last week, many people have been remembering him as the amazing, skilled, outspoken man he was. Many remember the iconic moment of Ali lifting the olympic torch with shaking hands, acting as a symbol of his fight against Parkinson’s disease. The emotional trauma from a disease as difficult as Parkinson’s can be debilitating, but Ali didn’t let it ruin him.
Physical or emotional trauma isn’t the end
Muhammad Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1984, 3 years after his retirement. In that moment, he became the most famous person to struggle with it and began the biggest battle of his life. He fought the disease for 32 years. The emotional trauma of losing the tight, fast reflexes that won him so many battles would bring down a lot of people–but he continued on to spread awareness and live a full life.
“In making his diagnosis public, he provided hope for millions of others and helped the cause immeasurably. We celebrate his extraordinary life and contributions to the cause and send our deepest condolences to his wife Lonnie and his family. In all areas of life, he truly was ‘the Champ’ and ‘the greatest.'” —Parkinson’s Disease Foundation President Robin Elliott
In his mission to raise awareness for the disease, he and his wife co-founded the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center in Phoenix, Arizona. The foundation’s purpose is to give comprehensive care to those suffering from physical and emotional trauma from the disease.
Muhammad Ali lives on as an example
Even with the loss of many motor skills, including clear speech, Ali continued to be in the spotlight and give speeches to many people in order to spread awareness for Parkinson’s disease. He lives on as an example of not giving up, pushing through physical and emotional trauma, and finding a new purpose when his boxing was taken from him. When faced with an impossible situation, he fought on even though the opponent wasn’t visible. Ali’s memory will persevere and inspire others suffering from diseases, like Parkinson’s, to fight on.