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Muhammad Ali tours Arizona Parkinson’s center ahead of ‘Fight Night’

PHOENIX — Former champion boxer Muhammad Ali and his wife, Lonnie, toured a Valley treatment center for Parkinson’s Disease ahead of a celebrity fight night to raise funds for the center.

The couple was shown the newly-expanded Muhammad Ali Parkinson’s Center at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix. The $5 million expansion includes a large gym and an activities area that Lonnie said will be a blessing to the families of Parkinson’s victims.

“The fact that we have the support here for the family as people progress through the stages of Parkinson’s, is really important,” Lonnie said.

Lonnie said the new facilities will help “to educate them (the families), and to give them the resources and tools that they need to have that quality of life, to try and make their life as normal as possible and to keep that optimistic outlook like my husband has.”

The 20th annual Celebrity Fight Night event that raises money to fight Parkinson’s Disease. Ali, Billy Crystal, Reba McCentire, Robert DeNiro and Michael Buble are among the stars who will take part in the event at the J.W. Marriott Desert Ridge Resort.

Ali is a three-time heavyweight boxing champion who is often referred to as “The Greatest.” He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 1984. Up to 1.5 million Americans have the disease that, so far, has no cure.