Tributes have been paid to Muhammad Ali’s ringside doctor Ferdie Pacheco after he ‘went down fighting’ aged 89.
Pacheco, often referred to as the ‘Fight Doctor’ was a mainstay at boxing legend Ali’s fights from 1960 to the mid-1970s.
He died at home in Miami, Florida, on Thursday.
Writing on Facebook, his daughter, Tina Louise Pacheco, said: “It’s with a heavy heart that I have to announce to the world the passing of my wonderful Dad, Ferdie Pacheco.”
“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.”
A Florida native, Pacheco opened a medical practice in Little Havana in the 1950s after earning a medical degree from the University of Miami, reports the New York Daily News .
He later joined Ali’s team at the world-famous 5th Street Gym in Miami Beach, going on to serve as the heavyweight champ’s ringside physician.
Pacheco quit boxing in 1977 after Ali refused to heed his advice to retire from the sport to protect his health.
In a 2010 interview with USA Today, he said of Ali’s decision: “He chose to pay for it, that’s true. Am I sorry for him? No. He had the greatest life any human being can have. There’s no way — no way — he could have lived better.”
Pacheco went on to win two Emmy Awards as a TV boxing analyst.
Announcer Dick Enberg also paid tribute, tweeting: “More sad news…The Fight Doctor, Ferdie Pacheco has passed.
“Went down fighting, almost 90. Fascinating man…servant-scientist-artist. R.I.P.”
A keen painter and author of several books, Pacheco was portrayed by Paul Rodriguez alongside Will Smith in the 2001 biopic, Ali.