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Inspiration: Profiles of Strength of those with Chronic Illness Mohammed Ali and Parkinson’s

When someone says the “Greatest of All Time” the youthful image of Mohamed Ali, formerly Cassius Clay, easily comes to mind. Nicknamed “The Greatest” this athlete moved with a finesse and grace and had such a larger than life public persona that he appeared to be unstoppable to so many. Mohammed’s career and titles speak for itself.

Fast forward to 1984 when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s syndrome and life took a major change. Parkinson’s syndrome is a neurological degenerative process for the progressive loss of structure or function that may include the death of neurons. Sadly, this syndrome has progressed and along with the more obvious tremors and rigidity to the point where the vocal chords have impacted Ali’s verbal ability to communicate. Once a specimen of physical strength he now presents as a beacon of emotional strength and remains graceful despite the obvious visual Parkinsonism symptoms.

Ali continues to give back to the community, working with Parkinson’s foundations and personally providing support and hope to those who are also impacted. Although I cannot personally confirm this, I’m willing to bet he has had his moments of fear, anxiety and despair while facing the realities of the progression of his chronic condition. He embodies what it means, while in the public eye, to not allow a disorder that is debilitating become his entire identity. He remains being ‘The Greatest’ in so many other ways than just in boxing.

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