Muhammad Ali (pictured)
“Diabetes has taught me to stay organised with my life, which helps me to perform in a good manner within boxing.” Muhammad Ali is making history as the first British professional boxer who has type 1 diabetes. Here he discusses how he manages his condition while still training as a professional athlete.
How did you learn to manage your diabetes while maintaining an Olympic standard of sport?
I was at a young age when I started boxing and my parents helped me control my diabetes. My mother took care of my nutrition, making sure my blood glucose levels were in a good range.
I watched my mother prepare my meals and give me my medication (insulin). I learnt the ropes from an early age to help me get a better understanding of how to manage my diabetes.
I also attended my regular diabetes appointments with my parents. If I had any troubles, I’d share my problems with my consultants and nurses in order to better my control.
What does an average day look like for you?
On an average day, I start by organising my meals for the day so that I’m in control of my diet, as well as sugar levels, throughout the day.
I also train twice a day. In the morning, I do my boxing session, which consists of sparring and technical work. In the evening, I do my strength and conditioning session.
If I’m not resting during the day, I will do my nutrition shopping or go to the local shopping mall for a walk.
Do you think there’s enough awareness about diabetes?
I think there is a lot of awareness raised regarding diabetes on social media as doctors are interacting with the diabetes community. There are also great sources of information and support out there, such as Diabetes UK, of which I am a proud ambassador.
However, more awareness is needed to help people with diabetes – for example, in shopping malls on the labels of foods. People will be more aware of what they are consuming and how to go about taking insulin according to the food they eat.
What would you say to someone living with diabetes with aspirations for a career in sport?
I believe diabetes is a condition and not an illness; it is about us as individuals, educating ourselves about diabetes for better control and management of the condition.
As someone who lives with diabetes myself, I believe we can do any sport as long as we are controlling our diabetes in a good manner.
The following is a motto I have put together to inspire and motivate other people living with diabetes:
Diabetes is a condition, not an illness; I’m just like any other ordinary person. Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass by but learning to weather the storm. One day, I’d love to say I lived by diabetes.