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Boxing legend Muhammad Ali is seen in a 1967 photo with his trainer Angelo Dundee ahead of his fight with Ernie Terrell at the Astrodome in Houston.

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Ali known not just for prowess in ring but also for faith, generosity
June 7th, 2016
By Nancy Wiechec

PHOENIX – Muhammad Ali leaves an indelible mark on the world not only as a fighter and athlete but as a man of faith, courage and generosity.

The three-time heavyweight champion and self-titled “The Greatest” boxer of all time died at a Scottsdale hospital June 3. He was 74.

In Phoenix, where Ali lived his last years, people recalled his kindness and bravery in his struggle with Parkinson’s disease.

“I’ve watched him face the disease with grace and humor, and he has inspired countless patients to do the same,” said Dr. Holly Shill in a statement from the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow Neurological Institute. “We have lost a great warrior in the battle of Parkinson’s, but hope continues.”

Founded in 1997 by Ali and his wife, Lonnie (Yolanda), along with philanthropist Jimmy Walker and Dr. Abraham Lieberman, the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center offers advanced treatments for Parkinson’s and other movement disorders as well as therapy and support for patients and caretakers. It is part of St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in the Sisters of Mercy-founded Dignity Health network.

Patient Ida Stanford reflected on the center and its famous namesake in a Dignity Health video.

“I can’t imagine having Parkinson’s and not having a place like the center,” she said. “Muhammad Ali stood up for what he believed in. He was one-of-a-kind and still is one-of-a-kind.”

Parkinson’s disease is a chronic disorder that affects an estimated 1.5 million Americans. Its symptoms – tremors, slowness of movement, rigidity and impaired balance and coordination – worsen over time.

According to The Arizona Republic newspaper, the former champ came to the Phoenix area in the mid-1990s seeking medical treatment for his condition. He lived quietly in the valley devoting time to philanthropy and making occasional appearances at charity and sporting events.

He once helped serve a meal and met with homeless people at the Society of St. Vincent de Paul dining room in downtown.

His last public appearance was in early April at Celebrity Fight Night, an annual Phoenix fundraiser that has given millions of dollars to the Ali Parkinson Center and other charities.

A public interfaith funeral service for Ali was to take place June 10 in Louisville, Kentucky.

From June 9, 2016 issue of Catholic San Francisco.


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