CHICAGO: Muhammad Ali says he knows he will have to undergo surgery “sooner or later” for Parkinson’s Syndrome, noting his symptoms are worsening as a result of the mild form of a degenerative brain disorder.

“I know I’m sick and I know it’s getting worse”, said boxing’s only three time heavyweight champion in an interview published in Monday’s Chicago Sun Times.

“I can’t talk when I want to. Can’t talk as fast and often as I like”.

“My mind is still sharp. I am aware of everything around me”, he said.

“Basically, I feel great, except for fatigue. I do get tired a lot, but I feel no pain. I don’t feel any pain.”

“Sometimes I look down and see my hands shaking and I didn’t even know they were shaking and I didn’t even know they were shaking. The feeling around my mouth isn’t there like it used to be. ’’m not aware when there’s food left on my lips”, Ali said.

He said he doesn’t want sympathy, “but I do appreciate prayers”.

The possibility of surgery arose when Ali was in Mexico for a sports medicine conference and met Dr. Ignacio Madrazo. The neurosurgeon is experienced in treating the syndrome by taking cells from the adrenal glands and placing them in the brain. The adrenal glands produce dopamine, which is deficient in Ali’s condition. He reportedly has been taking a pharmaceutical equivalent called I dopa.

“1 was about to have that operation in Mexico but some members of my family and my doctor have persuaded me to wait. They don’t want me to be a guinea pig”, he said. “They want to be more certain about the procedure”.

Ali said he probably will undergo the surgery “within the next couple of years”.

Ali’s assistant manager, Abudwi Mahdi, says that while Ali is troubled physically, he is in good shape financially.

“Don’t worry, nobody will have to pass the hat for Ali’, Mahdi said. He is financially set for life.

“But he is also very proud man who doesn’t take his medicine regularly like he should”, Mahdi said. “He needs everybody’s prayers”.

Article extracted from this publication >>  August 21, 1987