At the height of his fame, Ali was one of the most famous athletes in the world, and even after his retirement he was recognizable wherever he went. He retired with a professional record of 56 wins (37 by knockout) and 5 losses. Following his celebrated boxing career, Ali began an even more celebrated career in retirement. He has donated much of his time to various charities and humanitarian missions around the world. However, poor health has limited him in this effort. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990, and in 1996 he was awarded the honor of lighting the Olympic torch in Atlanta, to begin the Summer Olympic Games. He has also been an inspirational guest appearing at numerous other sporting events, including a touching moment at the 2004 MLB All-Star Game. At the end of the century, many publications listed him as one of the 20th centuryís greatest and most influential athletes. (10)
In 1984, Ali was first diagnosed with Parkinson syndrome, a medical condition closely related to Parkinsonís disease. Symptoms include body tremors, slurred or difficult speech, rigid limbs, facial immobilization, and other neurological problems. The disorder sometimes develops in boxers, because of the repeated blows to the head they suffer over a long career. As the former champion coped with the condition, he became a strong advocate for more research money for Parkinson disease and related conditions. However sad it is for the public to view this once world class athlete in his current condition, the former champ tries to remain lighthearted. He has joked that when he gets bored of a conversation he simply pretends to nod off to sleep and blames it on the Parkinsonís. He can still be seen shadow boxing and if you listen closely, Ali still speaks boastfully of himself and his abilities. His body may be letting him down, but throughout it all, Aliís mind has been and continues to be his most prolific asset. (11)
In addition to his humanitarian work worldwide, Ali has been an advocate for current boxers and the conditions they are expected in which to compete. In 2002, Ali sponsored a bill that passed through Congress that addressed these concerns. Click here to read about this bill, its purpose and the provisions it outlines.