The family of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali has disputed a report in a London newspaper that the flamboyant ex-heavyweight champion is near death. Instead, family spokesman Bob Gunnell said Ali was in his Phoenix area home watching the Super Bowl wearing Baltimore Ravens‘ gear.
Ali’s daughter, May May, later confirmed to the Associated Press that the boxing great was watching the game.
The 71-year-old Ali, who was famously stripped of the heavyweight title in 1967 for refusing induction into the military service, has had Parkinson’s disease since 1984. He appears frail, but has made several public appearances over the last several months.
The Sun quoted Rahman Ali as saying that his brother no longer recognizes him.
My brother can’t speak. He doesn’t recognize me. He’s in a bad way. He’s very sick. It could be months, it could be days. I don’t know if he’ll last the summer. He’s in God’s hands. We hope he gently passes away.
The Louisville Courier-Journal, Ali’s hometown newspaper, reached out to his wife, Lonnie, who referred the paper to Gunnell. Gunnell disputed The Sun report.
He looks great. He’s having a Super Bowl party.
Born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. in Louisville on Jan. 17, 1942, Ali became one of the most famous faces in the world during a career that spanned two decades. He won an Olympic gold medal in 1960 in Rome, then won the heavyweight title on three occasions. He defeated Sonny Liston for the belt in 1964 while still known as Clay.