Ferdie Pacheco Passes Away At 89
Ferdie Pacheco, who was known as the “Fight Doctor” for his role as heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali’s physician, died Thursday at his home in Miami. Pacheco was 89.
Pacheco first started working with Ali, when he was known under his birth name, Cassius Clay, when Ali trained under Angelo Dundee at Miami’s 5th Street Gym in the early 1960’s.
Pacheco joined forces with Dundee as Ali rose to prominence in the 1960s and remained in his corner throughout most of his reign as the heavyweight champion. .
Pacheco also played a key role in Ali’s first fight that won him the heavyweight title in 1964 against Sonny Liston.
Ali’s blood pressure rose at the weigh-in and Pacheco was asked to examine the fighter away from the atmosphere. Ali told Pacheco he was acting “crazy” to scare Liston but when Pacheco examined him, the reading was normal and Ali won the fight in six rounds.
Pacheco would be one of the first inside Ali’s camp to warn the boxer about the amount of punches Ali was taking, beginning in 1975, when Ali beat Joe Frazier at the “Thrilla in Manilla.”
Following Ali’s victory over Earnie Shavers in 1977, Pacheco sent letters to Ali urging the champion to retire but received no response.
Ali’s boxing career ended in 1981 and he soon began a 32-year fight with Parkinson’s disease until his death at the age of 74 in June 2016. His career record was 56-5 with 37 wins by knockouts.
Pacheco’s broadcasting career began shortly after Ali beat Shavers.
He was the analyst for CBS for Ali’s fight against Leon Spinks and then went on to broadcast for NBC, Showtime and Spanish-language network Univision. Pacheco also won two Emmy awards, including one for a series on Ali’s career.
Before entering boxing, Pacheco graduated University of Florida with a degree in pharmacy and received a medical degree from the University of Miami.
Besides helping Ali, Pacheco provided medical assistance to 12 world champions trained by Dundee