Eig Study of Ali's Speech Patterns Uncovers New Clues About His Parkinson's Diagnosis

If you've listened to the Chasing Ali podcast, you know that in addition to studying Ali for his biography, Jonathan Eig co-authored a research paper examining his speech patterns. Inspired by a similar study of Ronald Reagan's speeches and the insights they offered into his advancing Alzheimer's Disease, Jonathan reached out to researchers Visar Berisha and Julie Liss at Arizona State University. The goal: track Ali's speech over the course of his career to determine the onset of Parkinson's disease.

Initiated and co-authored by Jonathan Eig, whose “Ali: A Life” biography is scheduled for release Oct. 3, the ASU study also traced the correlation between the punches Ali absorbed in fights and a speech pattern deterioration in the bouts’ aftermaths.

After going 15 rounds with renowned heavy-hitter Earnie Shavers in 1977, during which Shavers struck him with 266 punches, Ali’s speech slowed by 16 percent from the prefight rate. The data on punches in that bout and all others Ali fought are part of a statistical survey conducted by CompuBox, Inc., at Eig’s behest. Although Ali’s speech would recover to a degree with time elapsed after a fight, the overall pattern was one of steady decline, the ASU research found.

The study will be published next Wednesday, August 30, and is set to be presented at Interspeech 2017 conference in Stockholm. Visit ESPN.com to read the full article.

Ashley Logan