Muhammad Ali and his wife Lonnie Ali ride a golf cart on to
the field to represent the Louisville Cardinals for the
coin toss against the Florida Gators before the Allstate
Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, Louisiana in January. (Photo by
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
The wife of Muhammad Ali today countered British news
reports that the boxing legend is near death by posting on
Twitter a photo of The Champ in a Ravens jersey getting ready
to watch the Super Bowl.
Lonnie Ali said she and her husband were at home in Phoenix
watching the game.
"All I can tell you is that Muhammad is rooting for the
Ravens and Muhammad was completely (taken) with Beyonce,"
Lonnie told USA TODAY Sports Sunday night. "His eyes and
mouth were wide open, so he's fine."
The report of Ali's pending death, published over the weekend
by both The Sun and The Daily Mail newspapers, was based
largely on an interview with Ali's brother, Rahman Ali, who
was quoted as saying, "It could be months, it could be days.
I don't know if he'll last the summer. He's in God's hands."
Lonnie Ali said the interview with Rahman that spawned the
story was done last summer during the Olympics.
"(Rahman) was in London and we were there too," she said.
"It happens every year at this time," Lonnie Ali said of
reports of Ali's failing health.
Mrs. Ali said the story has caused such a stir around the
world that the office of Prince Faisal of Saudi Arabia called
several times to inquire on Ali's health.
As the story spread across the Internet, other accounts made
his condition seem even more dire, as if Ali were on his
Ali's daughter Rasheda said the accounts were not accurate
and agreed with her stepmother that these rumors surface
every year around this time.
"It's a rumour. I just talked to him today and he's fine,"
Rasheda Ali-Walsh told USA TODAY Sports from her home.
The photo of Ali in a Ravens jersey was sent out on a
little-used and yet-to-be-widely discovered personal Twitter
account for Ali, "realALI_me," family spokesman Bob Gunnell
It shows Ali with his fists up and holding an inflated Ravens
helmet balloon, followed by, "The Greatest is ready for the
Super Bowl! Go @Ravens!"
Ali has suffered from Parkinson's disease, but has continued
to make public appearances.
He was, for example, at the Sugar Bowl in January wearing a
Teddy Bridgewater jersey, where he joined former Louisville
linebacker Tom Jackson in representing the Cardinals during
the pregame coin toss.