Ferdie Pacheco, the ringside physician to Muhammad Ali and TV commentator known in the boxing world as the “fight doctor,” died Thursday, his daughter announced on Facebook. He was 89.
“It’s with a heavy heart that I have to announce to the world the passing of my wonderful Dad, Ferdie Pacheco,” Tina Louise Pacheco wrote . “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.”
Pacheco worked in Ali’s corner from 1962 to 1977, which included three of the boxer’s successful title matches.
“The President, the Executive Committee, and all the World Boxing Association family regret the death of Mr. Ferdie Pacheco, who was legendary Muhammad Ali’s physician,” the association said in a statement on Friday. “Pacheco … was key in Ali’s career, he was in his corner since 1960 and accompanied him for great part of his career.”
Fernando Pacheco was born in Tampa, Fla., and earned a medical degree from the University of Miami in 1959. He first met Ali, known then as Cassius Clay, in 1960 when he was training with legendary boxing coach Angelo Dundee in Miami Beach.