Muhammad Ali To Visit The UK For The Final Time Next Month

by James Slater - British fight fans are in for an emotional experience in August, as The Greatest, Muhammad Ali, will pay his final visit to The UK next month. The Mirror reports that Ali, his health sadly having been on a steady decline since the mid-1980s due to Parkinson's Syndrome, has been told by his doctors that flying abroad will not be recommended for too much longer. And the former Olympic gold medallist and former three time heavyweight champion of the world has insisted on one last visit to the country that is "so close" to his heart..

Reportedly, Ali, now aged 67, will visit London, Stoke and Manchester, where he will make special after dinner appearances. The Mirror also reports how Ali will pay a special visit to Ricky Hatton's Manchester gym. Hatton, as with countless other athletes - not just boxers - lists the great man as his inspiration. Ali's visit, sure to grab huge headlines, will also raise money for various charities, including the former champ's own centre in his hometown of Louisville.

Ali spoke briefly about why he wanted to come back to the UK one last time.

"The UK is very close to my heart, "the living legend said. "I want to visit one last time not only to raise awareness and funds for The Muhammad Ali centre, but also to say goodbye in person to such a wonderful country and to all my friends and fans here, in case my health makes such a journey impossible in the future."

As brave out of the ring as he famously was in it, Ali has forever refused to let his condition stop him from attending various public functions. However, this really will be the last time we in Britain will get the chance to see the world revered boxer in, as Ali used to put it himself, "live and living colour." There are sure to be some tears shed when Ali hits town for the final time. But Ali's wife Lonnie said the visit should be a happy time, and a cause for celebration.

"Muhammad's popularity in The UK is legendary and he has many friends here," Lonnie Ali said. "Whilst this visit may be his last, it will be a cause for celebration, not sadness. We're looking forward to reconnecting with old friends and to garner support for Muhammad's charities."

The first time Ali came to The UK was way back in his Cassius Clay days, when he fought British hero Henry Cooper here in a 1963 non-title bout. Not quite so popular back then due to his "Louisville Lip" and his cockiness, Ali slowly won over the British fans; to the point where Ali once said he was unsure where he was most followed - either in The UK or in Africa.

Seeing Ali again, for the first time in a long while, may well break some people's hearts, but Ali has never felt any pity for himself and he wouldn't want anyone else to do so either.

The Mirror said the dates of Ali's appearances will be Manchester on August 26th, Stoke on August 27th and London on August 30th.

Article posted on 03.07.2009

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