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Family deny Muhammad Ali is close to death
Family deny Muhammad Ali is 'close to death'

The family of boxing legend Muhammad Ali have denied reports that the 71-year-old is close to death.

On Monday (AEDT) Ali's family released a photo of the former world champion watching the Super Bowl in a Baltimore Ravens shirt.

"He looks great," said family spokesman Bob Gunnell.

"He’s having a Superbowl party."

Gunnell strongly denied reports in UK media that Ali was just days away from death.

The reports stemmed from an interview with Ali's brother Rahman Ali, who said Muhammad had very little time left.

"My brother can’t speak — he doesn’t recognise me. He’s in a bad way. He’s very sick," Rahman Ali said.

"It could be months, it could be days. I don’t know if he’ll last the summer. He’s in God’s hands. We hope he gently passes away".

Muhammed Ali has suffered from Parkinson's disease since being diagnosed in 1984. Ali famously pioneered the rope-a-dope in his showdown with George Foreman in their 'Rumble in the Jungle' bout.

Rahman Ali has accused his brother's wife of funnelling money away from the Ali family and preventing him from seeing Muhammed in person.

"The worst thing to happen is not the illness, but his wife," Rahman Ali said.

"He told me before he got really bad that he’s in no pain. He grabbed my arm and whispered, ‘Rah, I’ve achieved everything I’ve ever wanted to accomplish. Don’t cry for me, I’m in no pain.’ It’s best he goes now. The longer he goes on, so does his suffering and misery.

"He’s going to heaven, there’s no doubt. If his funeral was tomorrow, all the statesmen of the world would turn up. He touched everyone from the rich to the poor.

"I love my brother over anybody. Of all the famous people who ever lived, he’s the best. Everyone knows Muhammad Ali. He’s up there with Jesus Christ."