By JIM NELSON
Boxing legend Muhammad Ali is nearing the final round in his 20-year bout with crippling Parkinson’s disease. Ali, 63, is on the ropes — his strength sapped by his constant battle for survival — and his family and friends fear he has just months left to live.
The boxing hero famously taunted opponents with: “I float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. Your hands can’t hit what your eyes can’t see.”
Now the disease has robbed Ali of his ability to speak and the simplest of tasks leave the champ utterly exhausted.
Ali’s daughter, boxer Laila Ali, told how the ever debilitating incurable illness has taken over and left her father a fading shadow of his old self. First, he retreated from the public eye as his shaking became too hard to control.
“Now he is withdrawing even from those closest to him. It’s painful for me because I would love to sit down and talk to my dad about the way he used to be when he was my age, when he was in his prime because we are so much alike. I can’t really do that. I can’t share a lot of things with him,” she said.
— Additional reporting by Patricia Shipp and Lee Hannon
To read more about what Muhammad’s family, friends and acquaintances say about his fight against Parkinson’s Disease, pick up a copy of this week’s National Enquirer — on newsstands now!