Sporting legend Muhammad Ali has backed a mobile phone app designed by a former boxer from Northumberland.
Andy Wake, who hails from Ponteland, has secured the endorsement of the world famous former heavyweight champion with an app that teaches people his signature moves.
Within five days of its release it went to number one in the App Store in the United States.
Mr Wake, who launched boxing fitness brand Boxercise in 1991, was enjoying a normal day at the office when he received what he thought was a prank call from Ali’s “people” at the Muhammad Ali Enterprises Licensing Division.
“When they called and said who they were I said yeah right, and hung up,” he said. “But when they kept persisting they started to get my attention.
“They wanted to do an exercise programme with Ali’s name on it and said our programme was the best.
“Millions of people have taken part in Boxercise lessons around the world, but a lot of people feel intimidated by the gym and want to train in the comfort of their own home.
“A Department of Health study only last month showed 30% of adults in this country are completely in-active. If this inspires more people to get off their backsides then that’s brilliant.
“This app is the only way you can officially learn to do all the moves that made Ali famous, such as the Ali shuffle and the skip circle.
“And because the app is linked through Facebook, if you update your progress and get a “like” on Facebook then Ali’s voice says “I am the greatest!”
The Boxercise app claims to teach people to ‘float like a butterfly and sting like a bee’, as well as train in all elements of Boxercise.
The video clips show how to do boxing-style training and users progress through the moves until they master them all.
Eventually, the user can learn how to imitate the great man himself. Ali, who is a long-term sufferer of Parkinson’s disease has given the app his own personal backing.
“When Ali was shown the app he gave his signature nod and smile,” said Mr Wake. “He’s very poorly at the moment and can’t speak, so to get his approval was a great moment for me.”
Mr Wake, who was a professional boxer himself and is now a trainer, said Ali isn’t the only advocate of his app.
“I’m also a huge fan of Mike Tyson, who I’ve been told loves the app,” he said. “He’s played it and has said on Twitter that he loves it, which is great.”
The app is available in the iTunes store now; search for Boxercise.