- Laila Ali’s Spring Workout Secret
- Boxer Laila Ali Shares Her Butt-Toning Exercise
- The Move: Booty Builder
- Ali reported taking weight-loss drugs before Holmes fight
- From the archives:: Muhammad Ali: It’s ‘The Greatest’ lie of all
Laila Ali’s Spring Workout Secret
Laila Ali may be the daughter of the ultra-famous, legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, but she’s also made quite the name for herself over the years. Not only is the gorgeous, fit mom an undefeated, four-time world champion boxer, she was just named NBC’s first female boxing analyst. She’s also a clean-eating advocate (who is also a big fan of cheat days!), an exercise enthusiast, one of our 15 fitness muses to inspire your workout, and a spokesperson for the United States Tennis Association’s (USTA) Youth Tennis. In fact, she’s not so bad with a racquet herself!
Recently, we caught up with Ali to find out her tips on maintaining a healthy lifestyle (amidst a super busy schedule), what she thinks about the #LikeAGirl campaign, and what else she does to stay in shape now that she’s put down her gloves. Need some fitspiration? Read on!
Shape: What’s one thing everyone should know about a boxing workout?
Laila Ali : Even though you’re focusing on the upper body, it’s a full body workout. With a good instructor who encourages you to use proper technique, you’ll use your lower body, back, and core. Your stance and power come from your lower body-not from throwing your arms. (It’s actually the Best Workout for a Knockout Body-pun intended!)
Shape: What does your go-to workout consist of?
LA: I’m really liking circuit training these days. In the gym, I’ll warm up on a heavy bag for 15 minutes; do a treadmill workout, which is usually a lot of sprinting or high incline work for 15 minutes; I’ll go on the elliptical for a workout there; then lower and upper body work-lunges, squats, and upper body high-rep exercises with 10 pound weights. It’s fast-paced. It makes you sweat. It makes you burn. Usually, it’s a 45-minute workout, but some days I’ll do 90 minutes. If I don’t go to the gym, I’ve been enjoying tennis.
Shape: How’s your tennis game?
LA: Well, I played growing up. I liked it, but I got frustrated with it and didn’t continue. Going back to it has been an easy transition-they’ve made equipment changes like smaller racquets that make tennis more fun for me and my kids. My kids know the importance of being active-and that’s why teaming up with the USTA was such an organic fit for me. They are making strives to get families outside-and using tennis as a way to get kids to stay active. (Are Your Parents to Blame for Your Bad Workout Habits?)
Shape: Who would you challenge in a tennis match if you had the chance?
LA: (Laughs.) Knowing that I would lose, I would go for Serena. She’s somebody that makes me wish I had stuck with tennis-if I had, I could have hung in with her!
Shape: Going back to your kids, what’s your best advice for squeezing ing a workout and sticking to a healthy lifestyle, even with a busy schedule?
LA: It has to be a priority. I have to get a workout in in the morning. Once my day starts, I’ll have the best intentions and it still won’t happen: one of the kids needs to be picked up somewhere, I have to hop on a conference call, or I’m just tired. So I get it done in the a.m. But give yourself leeway! I’ll choose rest over working out sometimes-it’s just as important. I am consistent and I know I’ll get right back on it, so I do allow myself to rest without feeling guilty.
Shape: What’s the best thing your dad ever taught you?
LA: My dad lived by example. I lived by watching him. I watched all the great things he did and said. I try to walk that talk for my children.
Shape: We saw you recently you became NBC Boxing’s first female analyst-congrats! You’ve obviously made a name for yourself fitness-wise and professionally. Amidst the #LikeAGirl campaign and other struggles for women’s rights, what would your advice be to women on pushing the boundaries and showing their strengths?
LA: First of all, don’t be afraid of the power from within. Be the best you can be and never worry about ‘dumbing it down’ or intimidating anyone. Own it! And don’t be discouraged by what others say-everyone has opinion. All that matters is how you let that affect you. You have to be focused and know your game plan, but stay strong. Some people’s main purpose is to discourage others because they haven’t reached success. Steer clear of those people. (Find out what other Professional Athletes Think of Always’ “Like a Girl” Campaign.)
Shape: Any sweat-proof beauty tips?
LA: I think ladies need to take the makeup off before going to the gym. Everyone wants to look cute at the gym, I get it, but you don’t want to clog up your pores with makeup then go run errands. Eat clean. Drink a lot of water. And try steamy showers to open up your pores.
Shape: What are three foods that are always in your fridge?
LA: Greens, or stuff to make a salad; some sort of almond milk or coconut milk; and fresh fruit.
Shape: Do you believe in cheat days?
LA: Oh yeah. I have a cheat day once a week, and when I cheat, I cheat with sweets-like a good baked peach cobbler à la mode. (Psst! Try this under-300 calories Sweet Peach Cobbler.) I believe in eating clean throughout week, but I tend to indulge. What has changed is that I’m not always eating junk when I splurge. I might get a sweet made with almond flour instead of regular flour-it’s not as unhealthy, but still not something you’d eat every day. The more you educate yourself about why the bad foods are bad, the less you want to indulge in them anymore.
You can follow Laila on Facebook and Twitter. Got kids? The USTA will be hosting thousands of youth tennis events throughout the month of March. Check them out at youthtennis.com.
- By Cassie Shortsleeve
Muhammad Ali is known as The Greatest, but we think his daughter Laila is pretty darn great, too.
The 33-year-old former professional boxer hosts a new ABC show called Everyday Health, has her own skin and hair care line (Laila Ali Professional Hair Care and Laila Ali Derm Essentials) and she’s developing a new line of healthy food products.
On top of all that, she’s working with the American Kidney Fund on the launch of Pair Up, a national campaign to raise awareness about kidney disease.
“When they first approached me, I was shocked by the statistics: Kidney disease affects about 31 million Americans, but it often goes undetected, and nine out of 10 people with early kidney disease don’t even know they have it,” Ali says.
“My family has dealt firsthand with these conditions, and the threat that my own family could be at risk for kidney disease is what makes this campaign so near and dear to my heart,” she says. “Pair Up encourages women to take two simple actions: Learn if they’re at risk for kidney disease, and spread the word about it to loved ones who also may be at risk.”
We chatted with Ali about her own healthy habits.
2011 Getty Images
Laila Ali helps launch the American Kidney Fund “Pair Up” Campaign
What’s your normal exercise routine?
I just had my second child in April, so I have been mixing it up in order to get the baby weight off. My normal workout routine is running about 45 minutes three days a week, spinning two days a week and weight training three days a week.
What song gets you most fired up at the gym?
“Survivor” by Destiny’s Child.
What’s in your fridge and/or pantry?
Organic juiced green veggies and carrot juice, Greek yogurt, organic eggs, lots of fresh veggies and fruit, meals that I cooked and chocolate-covered almonds.
If you feel like you are gaining weight, what do you do to stay on track?
I reduce my portions when I eat, cut out sugar and train harder.
What’s your go-to breakfast?
Egg white scramble with ground turkey, brown rice, spinach and mushrooms.
Typical lunch and dinner?
Green salad with grilled chicken for lunch and baked fish with veggies and baked sweet potato for dinner.
If you have to eat fast food, what do you get?
Muhammad Ali’s youngest daughter is Activia’s newest spokesperson. The busy mom of two sat down with SheKnows to share her favorite exercises and tips for a happy, healthy New Year. Listen in!
For Laila Ali, looking your best on the outside starts with what you’re putting inside your body.
The former Dancing With the Stars contestant says she tries to eat as clean as possible. “People are like, ‘What’s clean?’ And that’s just eating foods that are from the earth, foods that are unprocessed. Lean meats, veggies, fruits, nuts, whole grains,” she explains.
Laila also believes in making healthy meals at home and is working on her very own cookbook. “It’s really about making smart choices every day and doing something you can do long term, that’s not a fad. For me, it’s all about what my body can digest, because when you feel good on the inside, everything else pretty much falls into place.”
The Activia spokesperson says focusing on her core is a top priority during workouts. “Especially women who’ve have children, we always want to keep our core tight,” she explains, adding that you don’t just have to stick to typical crunches to get a tight waistline. “I like doing leg lifts, whether they’re on the floor or on a bench. Lifting your legs really works your lower abdominal muscles. Standing crunches work too, and Pilates is great for your core. I really focus on having that form and tucking my butt, squeezing my abs, keeping my shoulders back and down, no matter what kind of exercise I do.”
Laila’s exercise of choice is running, whether outside or indoors. “I like to get out and run where I can think and just put on my iPod and just go. When I want to do a full-body workout and I don’t have a lot of time, I have a treadmill workout that I do that’s a combination of walking and using my arm weights, and then I’ll take up the incline and do some sprinting. It’s usually 20 to 45 minutes, depending on how much time I have, so I’m working my full body and I’m keeping my heart rate up, burning fat, toning, all at the same time.”
And just like the rest of us, she has to make working out a priority, even if that means sacrificing sleep. “Sometimes before the kids wake up, I’m waking up at 5 so I can get my little workout in, and then by the time they’re up, it’s done, it’s over, I feel good and can go on with my day,” Laila explains. “We’re all tired, so that excuse doesn’t work!”
More health and fitness
Top 10 exercises for full-body fitness
The health benefits of practicing hot yoga
Why celebrity trainer Tracy Anderson hates juice cleanses and loves Gwyneth Paltrow
Photo credit: Activia
When someone mentions Laila Ali, your mind probably jumps to one of two associations—boxing or a certain celeb dance show.
After all, the daughter of famed boxing champ Muhammad Ali first made a name for herself in the ring (Laila “She Bee Stingin'” Ali) at the age of 21, when she knocked out her opponent in 31 seconds. Side note: I can barely take a sip of hot coffee in 31 seconds, let alone knock someone out. When she retired in 2007, Ali was the undefeated Super Middleweight Boxing Champion of the world. Um, yeahhh…so there’s that.
Then she cha-cha-cha’d/waltzed/danced her way to the finals on season four of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” rocking plenty of rhinestones, ruffles and fringed get-ups along the way.
More: Stay Fit for Summer: Trim Your Tush
But earlier this week, we caught up with the pro athlete in a sports arena that not quite as many people associate her with: the tennis courts at the U.S. Open, where she joined with the United States Tennis Association to kick off National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month.
Ali played the game as a youth and has picked up her racket on a more regular basis with her own kids. Like boxing, tennis also requires that its players be quick on their feet. “I love the footwork that’s involved in rallying,” she says.
Ali, who works out in her home gym or with trainers Sam Upton and Dion Slider when she’s gearing up for an event, tones her upper legs and butt with a move that she calls “the booty builder.”
“You need that strong foundation to get around the court,” Ali says. “Look how good Serena is!”
More: The Ultimate Butt-Lifter Workout
The Move: Booty Builder
Stand up straight and extend your arms so that your hands are flat against the wall.
Keeping one foot on the ground, lift the opposite leg behind you, squeezing your glutes as you do so and releasing them as you bring your leg back down. Complete three sets of 20 raises with each leg.
More: 4 Yoga Poses for a Tighter Tush
Stay in shape in a fitness class.
For most, the number zero implies emptiness, loss and maybe even heartache. But for Laila Ali, it’s the most glorious number in the world. With twenty-four wins and zero losses, the number signifies Ali’s perfect record untarnished by a single defeat, solidifying her mark as a boxing legend.
Equally important to Ali, though, is her legacy as a mom, a motivator and an advocate for women in sports. The daughter of boxing great Muhammad Ali is also paying it forward by getting kids interested in sports through initiatives like the USTA’s Youth Tennis. (That’s right, if she didn’t end up boxing, Ali says she would have given Serena and Venus a run for their money!)
RELATED: Daily Burn 365: New Workouts, 7 Days a Week
En route to World Tennis Day, the four-time World Champion boxer stopped by Daily Burn 365 to talk confidence, HIIT workouts and her number one motivator…cake. Plus get her favorite smoothie recipe, and find out how many push-ups she can do in a single workout. Spoiler alert: It is impressive.
What inspired you to first get into boxing? Did you feel pressure — or reluctance to — get into boxing because of the legacy of your father?
It’s hard to describe the feeling when you see something and you automatically just want to do it. I’ve always been the fighting type. I’ve always been competitive. All that and the fact that it’s in my genes; it’s in my blood. When I saw women’s boxing for the first time I was just automatically excited by it and wanted to do it. So I just went in there and started training.
You mention genetics — is it fair for people to credit so much of your athletic success to that?
Definitely. The speed at which I was able to learn and the way things came to me naturally definitely had something to do with that. It’s in you. The confidence that it takes, the mindset that it takes, the way that I’m physically built, my instinctual movement in the ring. There are certain things that can’t be taught, that you just have naturally, so that made it a lot easier. Obviously, it wasn’t just the genetics alone, though. It takes a lot of hard work, repetition, discipline and focus, all of those things.
RELATED: 19 Reasons to Work Out (Beyond the Perfect Body)
Would you ever get nervous before a fight?
No, that’s one thing thankfully that never happened to me. I usually get calm and abnormally relaxed. That said, anyone who’s going to be around you has to know there’s a certain way to act around a fighter. There are certain things you don’t talk about because you can get a little on edge.
Where would your mind go before you got in the ring?
To be honest, cake . After a fight I’d always have a whole cake waiting for me in my dressing room. I’d have to make lots of sacrifices training for a fight, including eating food and sweets that I like in order to make weight. So I would look at my cake before I left the room and I’d be like ‘I’ll be back in 20 minutes or less. I’m about to go knock this girl out so I can come back and get that cake.’ And that was my inspiration. I would just envision myself winning and eating that cake…rum cake, red velvet cake, you name it.
Photo Courtesy of Laila Ali
And it worked: 24 wins, 21 knockouts. Confidence is something that’s clearly worked to your advantage.
I used to always say before I fought that I’ve already won the fight. I would visualize myself in the ring and visualize myself winning. I really did feel like there was absolutely no way I could lose. In life, I’m not an overly confident person, but with boxing, it was different. I truly believed ‘this is my ring, it’s the one thing I own’ and I knew that for sure with every cell in my body. That’s a hard thing for people to compete against, that type of belief in yourself. Not to mention my bloodline and the fact that I had available to me an elite athlete. I had the best trainers, I had the best of everything. I was pretty intimidating, I’m not gonna lie.
You’re a big fan of high-intensity interval training. What’s a typical workout like for you?
I like to mix it up. I have a home gym, which I love. I don’t need to brush my teeth or do my hair if I don’t want to. I’ll put my music on, and zone out. First, I’ll hit my heavy bag for about 15 minutes just to warm up — intensely though. Then I’ll get on my StairMaster for 15 to 30 minutes, taking it from level six all the way up to level 15 — I’ll just go up and down to keep shocking my body. I don’t stay at 15 long — 20 seconds max because you’re running up the stairs at that point.
Then I’ll get on my treadmill and do some sprinting or I’ll do some free weights, depending on what I’m working on. One thing I always incorporate are push-ups, modified push-ups, sit-ups, squats. If I don’t do weights then I’ll make sure to go hard with push-ups. I might do a burn out — 250 push-ups total. But not all at once, I might do sets of 20 and keep counting up. It just keeps my arms nice. At this point in my life, I don’t want to start something that I’m not going to keep up. When I was fighting I had to. But now I try to find ways that I can work out that are fun for me and that I enjoy. Some days that’s running, so I’ll get out and do five miles — sometimes you just don’t want to have to think.
RELATED: 3 Quick HIIT Workouts for Beginners
What does your diet look like?
I eat clean. I try to eat an alkaline diet, 70 to 80 percent alkaline foods just to keep my body’s pH balance right. I try to always have something raw and something fermented on my plate. And I try to reduce the amount of protein that I eat. From time to time I’ll do a vegetarian meal. A typical lunch might be a salad, with lots of colors in there: some red cabbage, asparagus, avocado, maybe salmon. I make my own salad dressing, too, so I know exactly what’s in there. When I do eat carbs I try to stick to sweet potato, brown rice, soba noodles — complex carbs like that.
What’s your go-to post-workout snack?
Smoothies are great — that’s what I have for breakfast, actually. After I work out that’s the first time I really eat during the day. I like to train on an empty stomach, to help burn more fat, and I personally just prefer not to have anything in my stomach .
Laila Ali’s Post-Workout Super Green Smoothie Recipe
Photo by Perry Santanachote
2 cups frozen organic kale or spinach
2 scoops protein powder (Laila likes One World Whey)
1 tablespoon coconut oil or almond butter
1 tablespoon maca powder
1 tablespoon cacao
1 tablespoon super green mix (optional)
1 cup water
4-5 ice cubes
- Blend in a Vitamix until smooth and creamy.
What do you say to someone who has trouble getting out the door and to the gym on busy days?
In my mind, I’m always thinking: ‘You’ve got to pay the cost to be the boss.’ I tell my friends who are like, ‘You look so good!’…if you want to look good, you have to work. Anybody fit is putting in work. They’re making the sacrifice. If you want to sit around and slather butter on your bread and complain about your muffin top — I say there’s got to be balance. Anyone who knows me knows that I love to eat. On Fridays if I’m ordering pizza for my kids, I’m eating pizza, too! And that’s OK because I know I eat clean the majority of the time, and I work out. I was on the plane on my way here eating the sourdough bread. I’m not going to beat myself up about it because I don’t do it on a regular basis. You’ve got to have a cheat day here and there, or find a way you can enjoy food in your life. You don’t have to eat food that tastes like cardboard.
I try to encourage people to pay attention to why they should be eating healthy as opposed to just trying to be thin. When you understand how important it is to eat whole foods and the nutrition that you get from it, then you’ll be more likely to think about the good things you can add into your diet to crowd out the things you don’t need to be eating.
RELATED: 7 Days of Clean Eating, Made Simple
What’s the biggest lesson your father taught you?
When I think about my dad, the one thing I’m most proud of is that he stands up for what he believes in, no matter what it is, and no matter who agrees or disagrees with him. He didn’t need an army of people or an entourage behind him. He did what he knew was right and he had faith to know that no matter what he was going to be OK. That took a tremendous amount of courage back then, to always be able to look yourself in the mirror. And now he’s one of the most loved, respected men in the world… For me, the biggest lesson he taught me was to stand up for what you believe in and do what you know is right.
To watch Laila Ali’s complete appearance on Daily Burn 365 (and try the workout!), .
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Ali reported taking weight-loss drugs before Holmes fight
LOS ANGELES — Muhammad Ali was taking large doses of a thyroid drug to lose weight for his unsuccessful heavyweight title bid last Thursday, a source in Muhammad Ali Professional Sports said today.
The drug, thyroxine, has many side effects, including influencing appetite, weight loss, fatigue and weakness, sensitivity to heat, bulging of the eyeballs and personality changes. It also can affect blood pressure.
The source in Ali’s fight-promotion outfit, who asked not to be identified, said only that the amounts of thyroxine the former champ was taking were large.
He said Ali’s doctors and professional associates would elaborate on the subject at a news conference later today at the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Ali went to that hospital Monday night for tests, but no details of his condition were released.
The former champ’s weight dropped from a reported 265 pounds five months ago to just 217 ? pounds last Wednesday.
In his unsuccessful bid to win an unprecedented fourth heavyweight title against World Boxing commission Champion Larry Holmes on Thursday, Ali appeared sluggish in the ring and was pounded repeatedly by Holmes.
Finally, Ali’s chief second, Angelo Dundee, refused to let him leave his corner for the 11th round.
Ali reported extreme fatigue after the first round of his fight with Holmes and was worried that he was not sweating during the fight. He was warned after the eighth round by referee Richard Green to ‘start fighting or I’m going to stop it.’ He resumed the fight but hardly landed a punch in the ninth and 10th rounds.
‘I went back to my corner and I felt just so tired,’ he said Friday. ‘I could barely lift my arms. All the strength was gone from me. My reflexes … there was just nothing working. I wasn’t sweating a drop.’
‘Physicians Desk Reference,’ a widely used doctors’ guide to prescription drugs, reports the following about thyroxine:
‘Excessive dosage of thyroid medication may result in symptoms of hyperthyroidism. Since, however, the effects do not appear at once, the symptoms do not appear for one to three weeks after dosage regimen has begun.’
The drug is usually given in cases where the thyroid is either not producing enough thyroxine or too much. Drug journals warn against using the drug for weight loss.
From the archives:: Muhammad Ali: It’s ‘The Greatest’ lie of all
One of the things boxing as a sport doesn’t want to face up to is the true state of affairs concerning Muhammad Ali.
Is he a casualty of boxing, merely another piece of human flotsam thrown up by that cruel sport, or is he the victim of a disease that might have happened to him anyway?
Muhammad Ali probably was the most stunning physical specimen any sport ever produced. Fair of face, beauty of body, a quick mind, reflexes of a crouched leopard, he might have been anything in sports. Vince Lombardi, no less, once agreed he might have made a superb tight end. If someone had put a basketball in his hands instead of boxing gloves, he might have been as good a backcourt man as the game can produce. He certainly had the hand-eye coordination to be a great baseball player.
He chose pugilism. Or, pugilism chose him.
When he was a young Olympian, the sport seemed all too right for him. It suited his bombast, his reverence for the limelight. He was never really extended. It was an easy game for him. Three rounds of brilliant maneuvering, swiftness of hands and feet, a gold medal, picture on magazine covers. The good life. He never even got a nosebleed.
At first, the pros seemed more of the same. Ali didn’t have fights, he gave recitals. The world was overmatched. The dance would go on all night, all year, all decade. The public loved him. He wasn’t some drab, broken-nosed pug — he was an artist.
He had some amateur moves. He would jerk his head back at exactly the proper instant; he never really learned to slip punches. But he was so fleet of foot, so quick of instinct, he didn’t have to.
I remember one night my late wife, at a party at promoter Aileen Eaton’s house, took one look at Ali and his next opponent, Alejandro Lavorante, resplendent in white dinner jackets, and she moaned. “Who in the world would put two such beautiful specimens as you two in a ring to knock each other bloody?” she asked bitterly.
The next day, Ali incorporated it in the act. “I’m too pretty to fight these big ugly bears!” he would shout on cue. It joined the other shticks that made up the persona of Muhammad Ali.
Two years later, Alejandro Lavorante would be in a coma, dying a lingering death from the effects of beatings in the ring. Two decades later, Ali, the quick-witted, quick-tongued artist of the squared circle, would be a shambling, stumbling, stuttering, mumbling replica of himself.
Is boxing at fault here? It hopes not. It’s one thing for slow-moving, slow-witted second-raters to be going around sparring with light poles or tracking invisible flights of birds overhead. It brings a wince to apply that terrible adjective “punch drunk” to the purest specimen the game has seen, probably its greatest champion of them all.
So, it’s not surprising when promoters, managers, trainers and even announcers gravely convince themselves that Ali’s troubles are because of a disease that may have nothing to do with the prize ring — Parkinson’s disease. They don’t want to think the unthinkable. They don’t want Ali to be a terrible advertisement for their suspect industry.
But, comes now the medical man who knew Ali best to dispute them. Ferdie Pacheco was known to all of us as Ali’s doctor and even cornerman in many of his most important bouts. Ferdie was a man in good standing with the Ali’s considerable entourage.
Interestingly enough, it was not Ali’s brutal matches with Joe Frazier, Ken Norton or George Foreman that accelerated the downfall. It was that lunacy of a promotion pitting Ali against the Japanese wrestling champion, Antonio Inoki, a comic opera in which Inoki spent the night falling to the floor and kicking the back of Ali’s legs till they were masses of blood clots. Ali, says Pacheco, never recovered from those kicks.
That might be true. But most of us who were Ali watchers over the years had to vote for that horrible match in Manila when Ali and Joe Frazier put on probably the most terrible fight ever seen in a ring. Two careers were ended that awful night. Frazier finally had to quit in his corner, but when Ali was told it was over, he, too, immediately passed out in his own corner. Neither man was ever the same again. It made Dempsey-Firpo look like a minuet.
Ferdie Pacheco’s new book, “Muhammad Ali — A View From the Corner,” has the good doctor acknowledging: “It was about this time I first began having twinges of conscience.” The Hippocratic Oath kicked in.
It was after the subsequent Earnie Shavers-Ali fight that physical evidence began matching the observable deterioration in the Ali style. “Dr. Guardino came to me and discussed Ali’s lab work. His face was serious. The urine exam not only revealed blood in the urine, but entire sections of cells from the tubules. These cells filter the blood. They are not replaceable. They scar and impair kidney function. It is a serious finding, indicating impending kidney damage which could lead to grim consequences later in life,” Pacheco writes.
Pacheco quit the Ali camp when his warnings that Ali not fight again went unheeded.
The beatings Ali suffered in the ring were nothing compared to the ones he endured out of it, Pacheco writes. He disputed the diagnosis of Ali as suffering from hypothyroidism before the Larry Holmes fight in 1980, Ali’s last title shot. He saw thyroid shots as Ali’s way to quick weight loss for the fight. It was, Pacheco says, “a dangerous diagnosis.” He adds: “(It) was made with no provable lab test. The diagnosis is not made by running a blood sample through simple tests, but requires a radioactive iodine test. If hypothyroidism is the diagnosis, it is one that usually sticks with the patient for life. It is not episodic. It doesn’t go away like a headache after aspirin. So, when the doctor reported that, after a short course, Ali returned to normal and thyroid therapy was discontinued, that is not consistent with the course of hypothyroidism. Once you get it, you keep it.
“To give thyroid hormone to a healthy man (as he says was done with Ali before the Holmes fight) is very destructive. In addition to leading to thyroid deficiency, it raises the basal metabolism rate, which burns off fat and muscle tissue and raises the heartbeat. Reducing muscle mass in a boxer is like letting the air out of the tires of an Indy race car.”
Notes Pacheco: “Boxing apologists immediately claimed that Joe Louis’ problems stemmed from drugs, (Sugar Ray) Robinson’s from old age (he died from Alzheimer’s disease), and Ali’s from Parkinson’s disease.
“It is both bewildering and discouraging that supposedly intelligent men, without benefit of medical education or practical clinical experience, can airily dismiss boxing as the prime cause of these disorders.”
Pacheco says the linkage is inescapable. “By taking frivolous attitudes on TV (“He has Parkinson’s disease; boxing had nothing to do with it”), they undermine the work of boxing commissions and medical researchers who are struggling to limit the damages caused by the fighter’s boxing past his prime. Boxing should be curtailed. The less you box, the less the possibility of the PDS (punch-drunk syndrome), Parkinson’s disease and, maybe, Alzheimer’s disease.”
Note: This column was originally published on July 21, 1992.