PHOENIX – Boxing legend Muhammad Ali spent a second day in an area hospital Friday, fighting a respiratory problem that’s worried his family and set off a media frenzy of speculation about his latest health woes.
Ali, 74, considered by many to be the greatest boxer of all time and whose gift of gab rivaled his jab, is in fair condition at the undisclosed hospital, said Bob Gunnell, an Ali spokesman. Ali, who has suffered from Parkinson’s disease since the 1980s, is no stranger to hospital stays, but the Associated Press reports that people familiar with his condition say he may be battling more serious problems. He’s been hospitalized since Thursday.
Gunnell, in an interview with Gannett’s (Louisville) Courier-Journal, downplayed the report and said each Ali hospitalization causes a “media frenzy.” He said Ali’s condition remained the same, but declined to provide further details. An update later Friday was possible, he said.
Ali has been hospitalized several times in recent years, most recently in early 2015 when he was treated for a severe urinary tract infection initially diagnosed as pneumonia.
Ali has looked increasingly frail in public appearances, including April 9 when he wore sunglasses and was hunched over at the annual Celebrity Fight Night dinner in Phoenix, which raises funds for treatment of Parkinson’s.
His last formal public appearance before that was in October when he appeared at the Sports Illustrated Tribute to Muhammad Ali at The Muhammad Ali Center in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, along with former opponents George Foreman and Larry Holmes.
Ali has suffered from Parkinson’s for three decades, most famously trembling badly while lighting the Olympic torch in 1996 in Atlanta. Despite the disease he kept up a busy appearance schedule until recently, though he has not spoken in public for years.
Doctors say the Parkinson’s likely was caused by the thousands of punches Ali took during a career in which he traveled the world for big fights.
An iconic figure who at one point was perhaps the most recognized person in the world, Ali has lived quietly in the Phoenix area with his fourth wife, Lonnie, whom he married in 1986.
In 2005, Ali and his wife bought a $1.64-million, six-bedroom home in a gated community south of Camelback Golf Club in Paradise Valley, a small exclusive community between Phoenix and Scottsdale. For years before that he had been spending more and more time in Arizona, mostly appearing at a variety of charitable events.
In 1994 Arizona businessman Jimmy Walker founded the Celebrity Fight Night Foundation in Phoenix; three years later, Ali agreed to be the event’s featured guest. He has served in that role ever since.
Celebrity Fight Night is a major fund-raiser for the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow Neurological Institute. The black-tie gala, which includes a charity auction, has raised more than $20 million for the Ali center, which was dedicated in 1997. The event brings A-list celebrities to Phoenix every year, including Robert De Niro, Carrie Underwood, Blake Shelton, Billy Crystal, Josh Groban, Michael Buble and Jennifer Lopez. Reba McEntire has been the emcee since 2005.
Ali’s physician at the time, Dr. Abraham Lieberman, worked at the Phoenix institute, and in the mid-1990s traveled to Ali’s farm in Berrien Springs, Mich., to treat the former boxing great, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s syndrome in 1985, four years after retiring from the ring.
In December 2009, the Barrow Neurological Institute opened a new building for its Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center, which offers medical, rehabilitation and educational services for patients with Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders. The 10,000−square−foot facility, is located on the campus of St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix.
His prowess in the ring and his personality and controversial stands would make him one of the most recognizable sports figures of the past century.
Ali, then known as Cassius Clay, arrived on the national scene in 1964 with a stunning upset of then champion Sonny Liston. It made Clay, then 22, the youngest boxer to ever take a title from a champion.
Three years later he joined the Nation of Islam, changed his name to Muhammad Ali and refused to serve in the military during the Vietnam War. He was found guilty of draft evasion and stripped of his title. He did not fight from 1967-70.
States, some under court order, began to grant him boxing licenses in 1970, and that eventually led to the first of three memorable fights against Joe Frazier. The first, at Madison Square Garden in 1971, led to the first defeat of Ali’s career.
A victory over Frazier in their rematch in 1974 led to a title fight against George Foreman in October of that year, and at the age of 32, Ali won by knockout to claim the world heavyweight title for the second time.
A year later he met Frazier for a third time in Manila – the fight has come to be known as the “Thrilla in Manilla” – and the two battled in temperatures that neared 100 degrees. Ali emerged as the victor when Frazier could not leave his corner for the 15th and final round.
In 1978, a clearly overweight Ali lost his title to Leon Spinks, but won it back in a rematch just six months later, making him the first fighter to win the heavyweight title three times.
After a brief retirement, Ali returned to the ring against Larry Holmes in 1980 but suffered his only loss by knockout when his trainer, Angelo Dundee, stopped the fight in the 11th round. It was the first time Ali lost by knockout.
He would fight one last time, losing a 10-round decision to Trevor Berbick in 1981.
Ali finished with a 56-5 record, including 37 wins by knockout.
Three Disney World Employees Among 17 Arrested in Florida Child Sex Sting
Three Disney World employees were among the 17 people arrested in a child sex sting operation in Florida, law enforcement officials announced on Wednesday.
In the operation, dubbed “Operation Child Protector,” undercover officers posed as 13- and 14-year-old children on social media and online dating apps between July 27 and Aug. 1.
The undercovers made contact with each of the suspects before proposing they meet at a location in Polk County, where they were busted.
In total, the arrests led to 49 felony and two misdemeanor charges. Those arrested were aged 26 to 47. All were from Central Florida except for one 33-year-old man from California.
“What you see on this board … are deviants. Incredible deviants,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said at a press conference on Tuesday, motioning to photos of the alleged pervs. “They travel from as far away as Clewiston, Florida. One even came from Los Angeles.”
“Much to their chagrin, instead of meeting with young children, they were met by law enforcement officers who were online undercover posing as children.”
Kenneth Javier Aquino, 26, a lifeguard at Animal Kingdom Lodge at Disney World, was arrested while still wearing his Disney polo shirt and swimsuit, according to the sheriff’s office.
Aquino engaged in an online conversation on social media with an officer, posing as a 13-year-old girl, authorities said. He then asked the “girl” to send photos, and sent her an explicit video of himself, police said.
Aquino told officers he is a Navy veteran and has a pregnant girlfriend.
Jonathan McGrew, a 34-year-old custodian at Disney World, was nabbed by an undercover officer posing as a 13-year-old girl.
McGrew allegedly told the “girl” that he wanted her to come over and have sex with him and his girlfriend, 29-year-old Savannah Lawrence, who also works as a custodian at tourist mecca.
McGrew sent her explicit videos of him and Lawrence performing sexual acts on each other, authorities said.
A rep for Disney World didn’t immediately return a message.
China Reports First Human Death from Monkey B Virus
China has reported the first human infection and death in the country caused by a rare infectious disease found in primates known as the Monkey B virus.
The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said a 53-year-old veterinary surgeon who worked in a research institute specializing in nonhuman primate breeding in Beijing dissected two monkeys in March and became ill about a month later.
He began experiencing nausea, vomiting, fever and neurological issues, and died in May.
Blood and saliva samples were tested and researchers in April found evidence of the Monkey B virus, also known as the herpes B virus.
Researchers said a male doctor and female nurse who were in close contact with the victim tested negative for the virus.
The Monkey B virus is prevalent among macaque monkeys but infection among humans is extremely rare. Since the virus was identified in 1932, just 50 cases have been reported, with the majority of those in North America. Untreated B virus infections in humans are serious, however, with a fatality rate of about 80 percent.
Symptoms include fever, shortness of breath, and progress to more serious complications such as swelling of the brain and spinal cord.
Laboratory workers and veterinarians in close contact with the animals are most at risk as people typically get infected with the virus if they are bitten or scratched by an infected macaque, or have contact with the monkey’s eyes, nose or mouth.
But the virus is unlikely to mutate in a way that poses a problem to the general population. Just one case of human-to-human transmission of the virus has ever been documented.
U.S. Remembers 9/11 Terrorist Attacks as The Pandemic Changes Tribute Traditions
Americans are commemorating 9/11 with tributes that have been altered by coronavirus precautions and woven into the presidential campaign, drawing both President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden to pay respects at the same memorial without crossing paths.
In New York, a dispute over coronavirus-safety precautions is leading to split-screen remembrances Friday, one at the Sept. 11 memorial plaza at the World Trade Center and another on a nearby corner. The Pentagon’s observance will be so restricted that not even victims’ families can attend, though small groups can visit the memorial there later in the day.
Trump is speaking at the morning ceremony, the White House said. Biden plans to pay respects there in the afternoon after attending the observance at the 9/11 memorial in New York.
Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence is also due at ground zero — and then at the alternate ceremony a few blocks away.
In short, the anniversary of 9/11 is a complicated occasion in a maelstrom of a year, as the U.S. grapples with a health crisis, searches its soul over racial injustice and prepares to choose a leader to chart a path forward.
Still, 9/11 families say it’s important for the nation to pause and remember the hijacked-plane attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people at the trade center, at the Pentagon and near Shanksville on Sept. 11, 2001, shaping American policy, perceptions of safety and daily life in places from airports to office buildings.
“I know that the heart of America beats on 9/11 and, of course, thinks about that tragic day. I don’t think that people forget,” says Anthoula Katsimatides, who lost her brother John and is now on the board of the National Sept. 11 Memorial & Museum.
Friday will mark Trump’s second time observing the 9/11 anniversary at the Flight 93 memorial, where he made remarks in 2018. Biden spoke at the memorial’s dedication in 2011, when he was vice president.
The ground zero ceremony in New York has a longstanding custom of not allowing politicians to speak, though they can attend. Biden did so as vice president in 2010, and Trump as a candidate in 2016.
Though the candidates will be focused on the commemorations, the political significance of their focus on Shanksville is hard to ignore: Pennsylvania is a must-win state for both. Trump won it by less than a percentage point in 2016.
Around the country, some communities have canceled 9/11 commemorations because of the pandemic, while others are going ahead, sometimes with modifications.
The New York memorial is changing one of its ceremony’s central traditions: having relatives read the names of the dead, often adding poignant tributes.
Thousands of family members are still invited. But they’ll hear a recording of the names from speakers spread around the vast plaza, a plan that memorial leaders felt would avoid close contact at a stage but still allow families to remember their loved ones at the place where they died.
But some victims’ relatives felt the change robbed the observance of its emotional impact. A different 9/11-related group, the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, set up its own, simultaneous ceremony a few blocks away, saying there’s no reason that people can’t recite names while keeping a safe distance.
The two organizations also tussled over the Tribute in Light, a pair of powerful beams that shine into the night sky near the trade center and evoke its fallen twin towers. The 9/11 memorial initially canceled the display, citing virus-safety concerns for the installation crew. After the Tunnel to Towers Foundation vowed to put up the lights instead, the memorial changed course with help from its chairman, former Mayor Mike Bloomberg, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Tunnel to Towers, meanwhile, arranged to display single beams for the first time at the Shanksville memorial and the Pentagon.
Over the years, the anniversary also has become a day for volunteering. Because of the pandemic, the 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance organization is encouraging people this year to make donations or take other actions that can be accomplished at home.
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