LATEST: Fears that legendary boxer Muhammad Ali's health is deteriorating have been quashed by his wife LONNIE.

The former world heavyweight champion made a rare public appearance this weekend (19-20NOV05) when he opened an exhibition centre dedicated to his impressive life.

Barely able to speak, Muhammad - who suffers from Parkinson's disease - was joined by family, friends, and a host of celebrities including former US president Bill Clinton.

But his wife of 19 years insists the famous fighter is battling his illness well, and still cheekily demands ice cream for breakfast and entertains the family with magic tricks.

She says, "His spirit will carry him forever. Muhammad has not taken a turn for the worse, like everyone has said. He is doing well.

"He still loves magic. He has boxes and boxes of magic tricks that he tries out on the family."

The Ali Center exhibition, in hometown Louisville, Kentucky, features multi-media displays charting his successful career as well as the scandal that surrounded his refusal to serve in the Vietnam war.