The boxing legend Muhammad Ali is generally considered to be among the greatest heavyweight boxers in history.
A controversial and polarizing figure during his early career, Ali is today widely regarded for the skills he displayed in the ring. He is one of the most recognized sports figures of the past 100 years, crowned “Sportsman of the Century” by Sports Illustrated and “Sports Personality of the Century” by the BBC. Following a win, in July 1979, Ali decided to retire but announced his comeback to face Larry Holmes for the heavyweight title. It was around this time that Ali started struggling with vocal stutters and trembling hands. The Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) ordered that he undergo a complete physical examination in Las Vegas before being allowed to fight again. He was then declared fit to fight. The fight took place in October 1980, in Las Vegas, with Holmes easily dominating Ali. The Holmes fight is said to have contributed to Ali’s Parkinson‘s syndrome, a syndrome that is less known in Ethiopia, writes Henok Reta.
Former teacher Assefa Zegeye, 65, didn’t realize a disease that manifested in muscle rigidity was the reason behind his dropping his chalk whenever he was writing on the blackboard, that is, until he was diagnosed with a certain neuropathy some ten years ago.
Since then, he began to treat himself through intensive exercise and painkillers to ease his sickness. Although he underwent tests to determine what he was suffering from, his physicians were unable to find an exact result. “I was on the verge of giving up the medicine to try out other means to get rid of the disease,” he says.
After living with an unnamed disease for months, Assefa was approached by a doctor who finally discovered the cause of his illness. It was Parkinson’s—a disease that was hardly known across the county until a decade ago. Despite the familiarity the disease has with some prominent individuals worldwide, it remains a puzzle for many in Ethiopia, according to founder and head of Parkinson Patients Support Organization – Ethiopia (PPSO-E) Kibra Kebede. Assefa, who sees himself lucky enough because he was able to get to know the founder who lives near him, appreciates Kibra for her devotion and for establishing the organization.
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