Muhammad Ali in stable condition

Muhammad Ali (Gallo Images) -
Muhammad Ali (Gallo Images) –

Muhammad Ali was in a stable condition in a Louisville hospital on Sunday, suffering from a “mild” case of pneumonia.

The 72-year-old Ali was admitted on Saturday and is not expected to remain in the hospital long, Bob Gunnell said.

“He was admitted earlier this morning and because the pneumonia was caught early, his prognosis is good with a short hospital stay expected,” Gunnell said.

Ali has suffered from Parkinson’s disease for three decades and pneumonia can be a dangerous complication.

Ali’s doctor, Abraham Lieberman, warned in November that Parkinson’s could be deadly because it makes sufferers susceptible to falling. They can also have trouble swallowing and then develop pneumonia. Lieberman said Ali did not have trouble swallowing.

Gunnell said Ali was being treated by a “team of doctors” but did not go into detail or say where Ali was admitted.

In recent years, Ali has made fewer public appearances as the illness increasingly took its toll. He was seen in September when he attended the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards in Louisville, Kentucky, where he was born and where he keeps a home. He sometimes also lives in Scottsdale, Arizona.

It has been claimed that the head shots he took in the ring during his 21-year career contributed to his disease. But Lieberman said in November he could not be sure if there was a connection between the effect of the punches and the disease.

Ali boxed as a professional from 1960 to 1981. He dazzled the fans with slick moves in the ring and enamoured everyone with his wit and engaging personality.

He beat George Foreman in one of the greatest fights, “The Rumble in The Jungle”, in Zaire in 1974. He also had a thrilling rivalry with Joe Frazier, who also held the world heavyweight title.

Ali was never afraid to spark political controversy. He converted to Islam in 1964, changing his name from Cassius Clay. He refused to join the armed forces in 1967 on religious grounds. He was convicted of draft dodging and banned from boxing. In 1971 the US Supreme Court overturned the conviction.

Ali has become a global icon and was invited to light the Olympic torch in 1996. He received the United States’ highest civilian honour, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 2005.