“Change is an inevitable part of life. The seasons change, our feelings change, our appearance will change, and our health will change. Life is easier when we accept these changes and realize that every moment is an important step in the growth of our soul.” [3. Pg. 146]
Like most of us who have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, Muhammad Ali was misdiagnosed for a few years.
After winning the Heavyweight Title for the third time, Ali announced his retirement on July 27, 1979. Within a year Ali had a change of heart and announced that he was coming out of retirement to fight Larry Holmes. Because he was struggling with vocal stutters and trembling hands, many people were certain that he had suffered some sort of brain damage. Because of this, the Nevada Athletic Commission ordered that he undergo a complete physical before being allowed to fight again. Ali checked into the Mayo Clinic, and after a thorough examination, was declared fit to fight.
On October 2, 1980, the Ali/Holmes fight took place. The fight was one sided with Holmes easily dominating Ali. In the eleventh round Angelo Dundee told the referee to stop the fight. Many people said that this beating contributed to Ali’s Parkinson’s disease.
Ali’s last fight took place on December 11, 1981, against Trevor Berbick. He lost by a decision after ten-rounds. Following this fight Ali retired for the final time.
Someone has estimated that, in his boxing career, Ali had taken 200,000 hits. This is one reason why it took so long to get a correct diagnosis; everyone knew that he had brain damage from those punches to the head. Even a few Medical professionals said that if the hits didn’t cause the Parkinson’s they most certainly contributed to it.
However, Muhammad Ali disagrees. He writes,” Some people confuse my limitations with brain damage. Maybe that’s because there are people who say that I stayed in the ring too long, and that boxing caused these problems. But that’s not true. I would have had Parkinson’s if I had been a baker. There aren’t many boxers that have Parkinson’s and there are lots of people who have Parkinson’s who have never seen a boxing match, let alone been in one.” [3. Pg. 148]
After retirement in 1981, Ali’s health continued to deteriorate, and in 1984 he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. He would fight against Parkinson’s for over thirty years. I haven’t found any record of what type of exercises or therapy Ali did to slow down Parkinson’s in his personal life. However, since many people with Parkinson’s join Rock Steady Boxing, it would seem logical to conclude that if he continued to do what he had done everyday as a boxer, he would be doing everything right to help have a longer life.
The question is, are some exercises better for us than others? Marathon runner, Ira Fried, was in great shape when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s on November 21, 2006. Like most of us he wanted to do everything he could to slow down the progression of the disease. He went through the BIG and LOUD therapies, but since he was so successful preparing for marathons, he didn’t see much of a need to add a bunch of new exercises into his program.
Speaking of the BIG and LOUD program Fried writes, “These therapies have been available to me for several years. But I didn’t use them much. I didn’t think I needed to. For as long as I could, I continued to do the same workouts I had done in recent years: power walking, riding my bike during the warm weather months and my stationary hand bike during the rest of the year, and occasionally even running. But only occasional BIG and LOUD exercises. The progression of Parkinson’s that I could have averted by doing BIG and LOUD therapy is incalculable.” [5. Pgs. 342-343] Ira wonders if he should have added the BIG and LOUD therapies to his regular disciplines. He wonders about this because, the Parkinson’s disease seems to be ignoring his attempts at slowing the disease down. Ira Fried died on June 11, 2019, thirteen years after his diagnosis.
All decisions, regarding therapy or exercises, should be discussed with your team. Find out what is working for people with Parkinson’s. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, there are a lot of studies that have been done in this area.
When you got your diagnosis, the Neurologist might have said something like, “Parkinson’s is not a death sentence.” What he or she meant by that was, for those of us who have Parkinson’s, the word Parkinson’s will not appear on our death certificate. While Parkinsons will be a contributing factor to, it will not be the cause of your death. For example, Muhammad Ali died on June 3, 2016, of septic shock due to unspecified natural causes. Unspecified natural causes could have been a Urinary Tract Infection, or a complication from a surgery because of a fall. These are things that plague a lot of senior adults.
The causes of death for people with Parkinson’s are about the same as the general population: cancer, heart disease, accidents, covid, etc. However, Complications due to Falls, Aspiration Pneumonia, and Sepsis would be the top three reasons for people whose lives are shortened because of Parkinsons.
This tells me that to prevent an early death because of the three-leading causes of death in people who have Parkinsons, I need to continue to be diligent and disciplined in doing my daily exercises. By continuing with my daily exercises and therapies, I will be less likely to fall, aspirate food or drink, or be unaware of a Urinary Tract Infection.
Remembering Bob Dylans, words, “Life is hard, life is a bust, You do what you can and do what you must, You do what you must do and you do it well.” We press forward with all the zeal we can. However long or short the time is that we have left on this planet, we will do all we can to live lives of gratitude with hearts filled with joy, peace, and love. Ultimately the days we are given are not up to us, rather they come to us as a gift from our gracious creator.
those days, when life is a lot more pain than pleasure, more disaster than delight, more agony than ecstasy, picture Muhammad Ali standing over Sonny Liston. Can you hear him telling you, “Don’t lie there and die. Get up and FIGHT!!”
- Muhammad Ali, WikipediA, htts://en.m.wikipe’s dia.org
- , My Own Story, by, Muhammad Ali with Richard Durham. C. 1975, Graymalkin Media Pub.
- , Reflections on Life’s Journey, by Muhammad Ali and Hana Yasmeen Ali, c. 2004 by Muhammad Ali Family Trust. Pub. Simon & Both Shuster,
- By Abraham N, Lieberman, M.D. and Frank L. Williams, pg.76
- , Living with Parkinsons Disease, by Ira Fried, c. 2017 Published by American Parkinson Disease Association.
Appendix A – Resources
A. MUHAMMAD ALI the GREATEST, My Own Story, by, Muhammad Ali with Richard Durham. C. 1975, Graymalkin Media Pub.
B. The Soul of a Butterfly, Reflections on Life’s Journey, by Muhammad Ali and Hana Yasmeen Ali, c. 2004 by Muhammad Ali Family Trust. Pub. Simon & Both Shuster,
C. All You Can Do is Do What You Must, Living with Parkinsons Disease, by Ira Fried, c. 2017 Published by American Parkinson Disease Association.
D. Lucky Man, a Memoir, by Michael J. Fox. c. 2002. HYPERION, N.Y.
E. Always Looking Up, The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist. By Michaeal J. Fox, c. 2009
F. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future. By Michael J. Fox c.201
G. An Optimist Considers Morality. by Michael J. Fox. c. 2020, pub. FLATIRON BOOKS
H. The Parkinson’s Disease Treatment Book, Partnering with Your Doctor to Get the Most From Your Treatment. second edition. by J. Eric Ahlskog, PhD, MD. C. 2005, 2015. Pub. Oxford Press
I. Parkison’s disease, the complete guide for patients and caregivers. by Abraham N, Lieberman, M.D. and Frank L. Williams
J. Parkinson’s Disease for Dummies, A Reference for the Rest of us. by. Michele Taglaiti, MD; Gary N. Gutan, MD, MA; AND Jo Horne, MA. c.2007. Wiley Publishing Inc.
K. Parkinson’s Disease & The Art of Moving. by John Argue. C. 2000 New Harbinger Publications, Inc
L. LSVT LOUD Homework Helper! – LSVT BIG Homework Helper – www.lsvtglobrl.com. 888-438-5788, firstname.lastname@example.org
M. Undefeated! A Shadow Boxing Program for Parkinson’s. by Patric LoSasso A Smart PD Program. www.smartXPD.COM
N. Introduction to Ball Room Dancing, by Margot Sholtz – KULTUR – WWW.KULTER.COM
O. Dance Lessons 101 – by, Shawn Troutman. www.shawntroutman.com
P. BALLROOM DANCING intermediate – with Teresa Mason – KULTUR www.kultur.com
Q. Rock Steady Boxing – https://www.rocksteadyboxing.org (Find a class – HTTPS:ROCKSTEADYBOXING.ORG/FIND-A-CLASSS/)
R. Peddling for Parkinson’s – 303-900-3378-WWW.PEDDLINGFORPARKINSONS.ORG
S. LSVT BIG and LOUD– Phone 888-438-5788- Email – info@LSVTGlobel.com -Website, www..LSVTGlobel.com –
T. Support Groups – https://www.parkinsonsmi.com/support-groups-map
VI. Streaming Services
U. Type in Boxing/Physical Therapy/Biking/or any topic, for Parkinsons and you will find some great presentations.
V. The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. PPMIonline.org- PHONE 800-708-7644- michaeljfox.org