Ali wife counters 'near death' claims

Muhammad Ali and his wife Lonnie Ali ride a golf cart on to the field to represent the Louisville...
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 deathbed.

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 said.

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.


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