Muhammad Ali’s brother has opened up on the reason why the legendary boxer could not stay out of the ring.
Ali, born Cassius Clay, has been ranked as the greatest heavyweight ever after a long career that included wins over Joe Frazier, George Foreman and Floyd Patterson.
But his health deteriorated at an alarming rate and he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1984 – three years after his last bout.
However, symptoms for the illness had been noticed even in the 1970s such as slurred speech and fans were becoming more and more concerned over his wellbeing despite his continued time in the ring.
Ali retired at the age of 39 after losing to Trevor Berbick in the Bahamas but his brother, Rahaman, has revealed that his sibling could not stay out of the public eye.
In his book My Brother, Muhammad Ali he says his brother was feeling the effects of a long career after his 1976 fight against Ken Norton.
He said: “A photographer was telling him, ‘Muhammad, as a friend, I don’t think you should be fighting, you’re going to hurt yourself. Why do you keep on like this?’
“He said, and he always spoke in a whisper way, ‘You know, I’m the most famous face in the world. The fight, the ring, is my stage. If I leave the ring nobody’s going to know who I am and no one is going to remember me so I have to keep it up.’
“The man said, ‘Eventually there’s going to be a time’.
“My brother said, ‘Well, I can’t worry about that now. I just need to go on and I need to be in the public eye and I have to keep selling tickets’.”
Ali died in 2016 at the age of 74 with a respiratory illness but he showed signs of Parkinson’s in 1982 at a wrestling event.
Rahaman continued: “They had celebrities such as Cindy Lauper and Hulk Hogan. Muhammad was very quiet.
“He didn’t look like the invincible person he always had been. It was sad to look at him like that, the deterioration and not his usual powerful look.
“However, when my brother was introduced he got the biggest applause, he got the loudest applause – there’s no question that when he was introduced the fans loved him and showed their appreciation of his career.
“I felt that once powerful-looking man was not as powerful at that particular moment as he’d been in the past.”