Former world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali was close to death in a Phoenix-area hospital on Friday, a source close to the family said, as speculation swirled about his health.
Ali, one of the best-known figures of the 20th century, was hospitalized this week for a respiratory ailment. Family spokesman Bob Gunnell has said that Ali, 74, was in fair condition, but media reports have said he was in rapidly failing health.
Asked about Ali’s condition, the source said: “It’s extraordinarily grave. It’s a matter of hours.”
The source, who had spoken with Ali’s wife, Lonnie, added: “It could be more than a couple of hours, but it’s not going to be much more. Funeral arrangements are already being made.”
Gunnell did not respond to repeated requests for comment about Ali’s condition.
Ali has suffered from Parkinson’s disease for more than three decades and has kept a low profile in recent years.
The Radar Online website reported on Friday that Ali had been placed on life support, citing “an insider.”
The Reuters source close to the family could not comment on that report.
Ali’s last public appearance was in April at the “Celebrity Fight Night” gala in Arizona, a charity that benefits the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center.
At the height of his career, Ali was known for his dancing feet and quick fists and his ability, as he put it, to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.
He held the heavyweight title a record three times, and Sports Illustrated named him the top sportsman of the 20th century.
Nicknamed “The Greatest,” Ali retired from boxing in 1981 with a record of 56 wins, 37 by knockout, and five losses. Ali’s diagnosis of Parkinson’s came about three years after he left the ring.
Ali, born in Louisville, Kentucky, as Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr, changed his name in 1964 after his conversion to Islam.
Ali had a show-time personality that he melded with dazzling footwork and great hand speed. His bouts with such fighters as Sonny Liston, Joe Frazier and George Foreman made him an international celebrity like boxing had never seen.
He became a symbol for black liberation during the 1960s as he stood up to the U.S. government by refusing to go into the Army for religious reasons.
Ali made a surprise appearance at the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996, stilling the Parkinson’s tremors in his hands enough to light the Olympic flame.
He also took part in the opening ceremony of the London Olympics in 2012, looking frail in a wheelchair. He has been married four times and has nine children.
Ali’s daughter Laila, a former boxer, tweeted a photo of her father kissing her own daughter, Sydney. She thanked supporters for their wishes for Ali, saying, “I feel your love and appreciate it!”
(Reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington; Additional reporting by Bill Trott; Editing by Matthew Lewis and Sandra Maler)
The faith of Fox News: How the network’s propaganda warps viewers’ sense of reality
A longtime sticking point among Fox News employees is their insistent differentiation between its news division, where employees practice actual journalism, and its opinion division, where employees practice actual nativism, spew misinformation, and have been actively campaigning for Donald Trump’s re-election since 2016. Inside the organization, they claim to believe that the news side is separate from the opinion side, and insist that the audience can tell the difference.
News anchor Shepard Smith once characterized comparing the two as “apples and teaspoons.”
‘Was Alex Jones not available?’ CNN faces viewer backlash for hiring ‘conspiracy dunce Sean Duffy’
CNN viewers lashed out on Sunday after the network announced it had hired former Wisconsin Congressman Sean Duffy (R), who quit his previous job in Congress to take care of his nine children.
During a Sunday appearance on CNN's State of the Union program, Duffy defended President Donald Trump by repeating a conspiracy theory about a Democratic Party server that he claimed is controlled by Ukrainians.
Read some of the responses to Duffy's first appearance as a CNN contributor.
Andrew Yang 2020 — but not for president
After the fourth Democratic presidential debate last week, I realized the only enthusiastic endorsement I could make this far out was for Andrew Yang — but not for president. Instead, Yang should lead the Department of Commerce under whomever gets elected. because he has a 21st-century, visionary grasp of economics.
This article first appeared in Salon
American capitalism is a dead man walking, but don’t count on the corporate news media to tell you as the staggering continues before the final collapse. Signs of the existential crisis are as clear as the flaming orange kleptomaniac who occupies the White House. Rest assured, the business press dominated by the Wall Street pyramid builders will tell you that nobody saw it coming. They always do that after a crash comes.