Muhammad Ali's Ringside 'Fight Doctor' Dies At 89

November 17, 2017Nov 17, 2017

It was reported on Thursday of this week that Ferdie Pacheco, the man renowned as the ringside physician to Muhammad Ali, died at age 89. He was also known as the "fight doctor" and as a renowned TV commentator in the world of boxing. His loss will be missed. 

Pacheco's daughter, Tina Louise Pacheco, wrote that "It's with a heavy heart that I have to announce to the world the passing of my wonderful Dad, Ferdie Pacheco."

She continued, "He was a pharmacist, a doctor, a boxing commentator, a painter and a writer. But to me, he was just Papa. It's a heartbreak to lose a parent, but I know he'll always be with me."

NPR reports that Pacheco worked in Ali's corner from 1962 to 1977. These years included the boxer's most successful matches, which his fight doctor was there to help make happen. In this regard, Pacheco was known as Ali's legendary physician, working in the boxer's corner and helping him accomplish some of the greatest successes of his career. 

ESPN reports that after Ali successfully defended the world heavyweight title against Alfredo Avengelista in May 1977, his "fight doctor" suggested that he retire. He then left Ali's camp later that year, after the fighter signed onto the challenge Earnie Shavers, who was another renowned fighter in the world of boxing. 

According to ESPN, "Pacheco finally left Ali's camp in 1977 after Ali signed to fight Earnie Shavers. Pacheco would later say that he told Ali he would stick around if he fought boxers who couldn't hurt him, but Shavers was known as a vicious puncher and he feared for Ali's safety."

Ali fought four more matches, losing three, before he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. 

"Boxing is a savage sport. It's predicated on hurting one another," Pacheco said, according to NPR. "As long as that's the case and people are going to the fights to see one person hurt another, then you don't have much chance to stop it when it gets tough."

Pacheco was born in Tampa, Florida and earned his medical degree from the University of Miami in 1959. He first met Ali in 1960 while training with legendary coach Angelo Dundee in Florida. 

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