Contribution from freelance writer Jackie
On 9 May 2018, Muhammad Ali made history after becoming the first UK boxer with Type 1 diabetes to be granted a professional boxing license. Later that year, on 15 September, he entered the ring for the first professional fight of what has proven to be a very successful boxing career. This was a huge win for the fiercely-competitive Ali who initially had his application for a professional license rejected in 2015 due to his diagnosis. For his first pro fight, Ali came up against Lithuanian boxer Andrej Cepur, who he defeated by 40 to 36 points after four rounds. In December 2019 the undefeated Ali, who is affectionately known as ‘The Diabetic Kid’ won his sixth fight as a boxing pro, this time against Nathan Hardy at the University of Bolton Stadium.
The diagnoses came at a young age
Ali was only about 5 years old when he received his Type 1 diabetes diagnosis. Type 1 diabetes only affects approximately 8% of everyone living with the condition, making it considerably less prevalent than Type 2 diabetes. Ali started boxing at the age of 12 and by the time Ali was 16 years old, Ali began administering his own insulin. Today, he injects himself multiple times a day as a pump would not be a viable solution due to the risk of it getting damaged during training or a fight. He also makes use of a flash glucose monitor to monitor his condition. During his first fight, the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBC) insisted that he wore not one but two flash glucose monitors as proof that his glucose levels and subsequent health were not at risk during the fight.
A healthy lifestyle is imperative
Despite living with diabetes for more than 20 years, Ali has not relaxed his efforts to remain fit and healthy. Individuals living with diabetes face a unique set of challenges on a daily basis that need to be navigated. Following the correct diet is imperative for any diabetes patient. Ali eats fresh, home-cooked meals which he prepared himself and takes extra care to weigh his portions to know exactly how much insulin he will require. As a sportsman, it is also essential to take care of his feet, ensuring that his shoes do not cause any skin abrasions that can have devastating consequences for someone with diabetes. Diabetic neuropathy can be extremely painful but can, thankfully, be largely prevented through effective diabetic care.
Diabetes won’t determine his boxing future
When Ali received the news in 2015 that his application for a pro license was declined, he was devastated, stating that he felt both ‘discriminated against and alienated’. He realized he had to make a difficult choice. He could either accept the Board’s decision or he could fight it. The former was never an option as Ali realized that his diagnosis did not have to stand in the way of his boxing dreams. Together with his team, who included trainer Ale Matvienko, manager Asad Shamim, and his endocrinologist Dr. Ian Gallen, Ali provided all the documentation required to prove that his diabetes would not affect his boxing ability and vice versa. With that amount of dedication, the future looks very bright for The Diabetic Kid.
Diabetes affects people from all walks of life, including those who go on to become some of the biggest stars in sporting history. As long as every effort is made to stay healthy, no diabetes diagnosis needs to stand between you and your dreams.
These articles are submitted by guest writers and sites. They aren't submitted by the usual folk behind Asian Boxing and don't fall in line with our editorial stance, giving a fresh view on various boxing issues from the Asian boxing scene.