2017-11-16 19:57:18 UTC
Ferdie Pacheco, the ‘Fight Doctor’ and Muhammad Ali’s physician, dead at 89
Published: November 16, 2017
Updated: November 16, 2017 at 01:17 PM
TAMPA — Ferdie Pacheco, best known as the "Fight Doctor" for his years serving as Muhammad Ali’s ringside physician, has died at the age of 89.
FERDIE PACHECO’S LAST STAND: A Times profile of the doctor, writer, painter and ladies man
The Ybor City native also won two Emmy Awards as a TV boxing analyst. He worked for networks including NBC and Showtime.
In his later years, he became a prolific writers whose works include his memoirs, Ybor City Chronicles and Blood in My Coffee.
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Dr. Ferdie Pacheco, 'the Fight Doctor' in Muhammad Ali's corner, dies at 89
By Bob Hille Omnisport @bobhille
Updated at 2:32 p.m. ET
Dr. Ferdie Pacheco, who served for more than a dozen years as Muhammad Ali's ringside and personal physician, has died, the Tampa Bay Times reported Thursday.
He was 89.
Pacheco — born Dec. 8, 1927, in Tampa's predominantly Latino Ybor City area, according to his personal website — became known as "the Fight Doctor" while a corner man and personal physician to Ali in the 1960s and '70s before becoming an Emmy Award-winning boxing analyst, most notably for NBC and Showtime.
In his later years, Pacheco became a prolific painter, with a work hanging in the U.N., and writer, author of more than 20 books.
Yet it was as Ali's personal physician that, first, he saw sports history — "he was the last of the giants," Pacheco told the Times in 2013 — and later warned the champ of the long-term damage he was subjecting himself to, Pacheco told USA Today.
After earning his medical degree from the University of Miami, Pacheco set up a practice in that city where he came to know boxing trainer Angelo Dundee and, in 1960, meet Dundee's most famous boxer, Cassius Clay, fresh off winning an Olympic gold medal.
Clay eventually became the world heavyweight champion and changed his name to Muhammad Ali. As a part of Ali's entourage, Dundee — who described Ali early in his professional boxing career as the most perfect human being he had ever seen — was witness to some of the sport's most iconic fights.
Yet, as Ali's personal physician, he was one of the first to see the physical toll some of the brutal beatings he took would have on him. In fact, Pacheco finally left Ali's camp in 1977 over the punishment he was taking in the ring.
An up-close witness, Pacheco described Ali's life as "a perfect novel."
Ali died in February 2016 after suffering for years with Parkinson's disease, largely attributed to the repetitive blows to the head he suffered during his long boxing career, especially after Pacheco left his entourage.
Pacheco told the Times in 2013 that the last time the two saw each other was in 2002. They embraced as Ali trembled with Parkinson's. Pacheco recalled Ali saying in a slurred voice, "You was right.''