Muhammad Ali (1942-2016): Parkinson’s and A Courageous Life Journey

“Don’t count the days; make the days count.” Muhammad Ali 

“God will not place a burden on a man’s shoulders knowing that he cannot carry it.” Muhammad Ali 

Brief Biography: On June 3, 2016, Muhammad Ali passed away due to respiratory complications from his advanced Parkinson’s Disease. He was born Cassius Clay in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1942. Muhammad Ali first became an Olympic gold medalist for boxing in 1960; next, the world heavyweight-boxing champion in 1964. Following his suspension for refusing the military draft to Vietnam, in the 1970’s, Ali reclaimed the heavyweight boxing title two more times.

Life with Parkinson’s: Muhammad Ali was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s in 1984; he was 42 years old. Following the diagnosis, Ali devoted much of his time to philanthropy. In 1997, Ali lent his name and helped to establish The Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center  (read about this impressive facility: ). For all of his service to help others, Muhammad Ali received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005.

In front of essentially the entire world in 1996, Muhammad Ali with very apparent symptoms of Parkinson’s, lit the flame at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta (click here to view this event). More recently in 2012, Ali was a bearer of the Olympic Flag during the opening ceremonies at the Summer Olympics in London. Ali had to be assisted to stand before the flag due to the advanced stage of his Parkinson’s.“Dr. Michael S. Okun, NPF’s National Medical Director, noted that Mr. Ali lived nearly half of his life with Parkinson’s, concluding ‘He was a force and an inspiration to all people with Parkinson’s and their families, and taught me a lot about how to live a hopeful and meaningful life with Parkinson’s disease.’” ( )

A Courageous Life: As a boxer, Muhammad Ali was both inspiring and controversial. Muhammad Ali was possibly the most significant heavyweight boxing champion.

Most notably, I will always admire, respect and remember the grace and courage in which Muhammad Ali lived out his life with Parkinson’s . Ali’s brave actions in front of the world in the presence of his disorder were most memorable. His >30 years of life with Parkinson’s was a journey filled with hope and in service to others.

A very sad day in the passing of Muhammad Ali; he was a most remarkable person.

Here are a few indelible quotes from Muhammad Ali:
“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”

“The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up.”

“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”

“What you’re thinking is what you’re becoming.”

“The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”

“If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it – then I can achieve it.”

“The Service you do for others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.”

“Go to College,
Stay in school,
If they can make penicillin out of moldy bread,
they can sure make something out of you.”

“All through my life, I have been tested. My will has been tested, my courage has been tested, my strength has been tested. Now my patience and endurance are being tested.”

Parkinson’s is my toughest fight. No, it doesn’t hurt. It’s hard to explain. I’m being tested to see if I’ll keep praying, to see if I’ll keep my faith. All great people are tested by God.”

Cover image credit: Getty Images/Andrew H. Walker

Side-by-side photographs credit:

Quotes/images credit: and and

One Reply to “Muhammad Ali (1942-2016): Parkinson’s and A Courageous Life Journey”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: