Michael J. Fox Remembers Muhammad Ali Friendship And Strong Bond

Like many, Michael J. Fox paid tribute to late heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali. That said, the two shared a very special bond as they were both fighting Parkinson’s.

When Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson’s progressed rapidly, so much that he had to take a hiatus from acting. For years he was the face of Parkinson’s disease, and was one of the first public figures on the line fighting for better medication. The actor started the Michael J. Fox foundation for Parkinson’s research in 2000, a mere two years after he went public with his diagnosis.

Now, Michael J. Fox has spoken out about how to remember the late boxer, who suffered from the same disease as he does. Speaking with the Today Show, Fox said the following of his dear friend.

“Before I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, I admired him and I admired his athleticism, his poise, his class, his style, his stoicism, his belief in what he thought was right, but] to have actually met him and joined with him in a common cause, in a common fight was … I mean, who else would you want in your corner?”

Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s back in 1984, shortly after he retired from the sport, while Fox was diagnosed in 1991. Of how the two dealt with the disease differently, Fox said the following.

“[Ali] was quiet for a while. And then he said in a very soft voice, ‘I’m glad you’re in this fight with me.’ It was just a formative moment in my life. I realized that we were all part of something bigger.”

Michael J. Fox and Todd Sherer wrote a special feature for CNN, titled “Michael J. Fox: How to honor Muhammad Ali.” The piece went on to explain the many advances made within the disease since Ali’s diagnosis in 1984, but more importantly, Fox and Sherer explained that Ali’s death should act as a spotlight on Parkinson’s and how much more is needed to fight this cause.

” ‘Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare,’ Ali famously said. Curing Parkinson’s disease once seemed impossible. But momentum is at last on our side. We believe without fail that cures are within reach if we dare to do more, not less. Muhammad Ali showed us what it means to have the heart of a champion. Now is our chance to honor him by finishing the fight he could not.”

Muhammad Ali died surrounded by his loved ones in a hospital bed. Ali died hours after it was reported that he was in “grave” condition. The boxer was hospitalized last week due to complications with breathing. According to a report, his death was caused by septic. It’s said his funeral will take place on Friday in Louisville, and President Bill Clinton is expected to give a eulogy. Joining the former President are Billy Crystal and journalist Bryant Gumbel.

Muhammad Ali’s children have released statements following his passing. Laila Ali, who went on to become a WIBA super middleweight boxing champion, went on the TODAY show to express her own sentiments about the loss of her father, and the loss that the world feels.

“The whole world is sad … I don’t feel alone. It’s not just our family, it’s the whole world. Knowing that he’s not suffering anymore is what gives me comfort. I’ve prepared mentally for many years, that obviously one day I was going to lose my father and that time has come.”

[Photo by Bryan Steffy/Getty Images for SHOWTIME]