Marc My Words!

Marc Maturo’s official sports column

Ali, Dr. Pacheco continue the fight in different corners

On Sportsdom’s Shifting Scene

Ferdie Pacheco, time marches on
Ferdie Pacheco, time marches on

        While the great heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali remains hospitalized as he battles pneumonia, Dr. Ferdie Pacheco is showing improvement from a Christmas Eve stomach illness that has him bedridden and in care of a physician at his home in Miami, Fla.

Ali, 72, the three-time heavyweight king, was admitted to an undisclosed hospital on Dec. 20, but “is making great progress,” a family spokesman was quoted as saying.

Pacheco, an octogenarian whose career as Ali’s personal physician lasted until a 1977 bout with the hard-punching Ernie Shavers – Ferdie wanted Ali to quit, and when he would not, Ferdie quit, fearing greater damage to Ali – was given “some fluids and stuff (on Monday)” Luisita, his wife of 44 years, told the Rockland County Times.

“He’s been sick,” said Luisita, “but I take care of him. You know, he’s getting old; he’s 87, up there in years. But he is still painting at his studio (at home).”

The famed “Fight Doctor,” is also a writer and has been painting for decades. His most recent efforts in oil are of the late Jamaican ambassador for reggae music Bob Marley, and the 19th century author and critic Edgar Allen Poe.

Ferdie Pacheco with Muhammad Ali
Ferdie Pacheco with Muhammad Ali

Here’s hoping that the new year brings better days for Ali and the good doctor.

Another blow to boxing: At one time, New York City and the greater metropolitan area featured any number of thriving boxing gyms, many of which helped to develop such outstanding amateurs and professionals as the five-time world champion Emile Griffith, the thunderous punching Alex Ramos,  heavyweight champ Riddick Bowe and the crowd-thrilling but wild and reckless Hector “Macho” Camacho. But the Police Athletic League no longer promotes the sport at any gym in the Bronx, the Wagner Youth Center is long gone and, on the periphery, Ace’s Boxing in Tenafly, N.J., just closed up shop. Coaches Art Artola of West Nyack and Steve Bratter of Orangeburg are looking for another location, perhaps an old warehouse or any such facility that might be converted into a gym. Anyone with any information is asked to contact Artola at 845-358-1167 or Bratter at 845-709-2530.

Lesson Be learned: The Jets made the right move in firing Rex Ryan and John Idzik, and probably should not have hired Idzik in the first place. Now owner Woody Johnson is turning to two longtime former GMs, rethreads Charley Casserly and Ron Wolf, to find a replacement for Idzik. This is not the right move, however. Casserly and Wolf are from the old guard, lacking the verve and nerve of youth. Instead, Woody should have completed the necessary house cleaning by dumping everyone in the scouting department. No one involved with on-the-field matters should come back for another down if the Jets are to ever return to prominence. Let it also be known for the record that Gino Smith will never take the Jets to a title, either. Woody’s ineptitude sort of reminds me of the one-time chairman of the Mets, M. Donald Grant, and even the reign of current kingpins Fred and Jeff Wilpon. Whomever takes over the Jets should look at one play in the season-closing victory in Miami that closed a miserable 4-12 campaign: a fake punt that nearly went for a touchdown. The Jets, throwing caution to the wind with nothing to lose, or gain, attempted some other so-called unconventional plays that should be part and parcel of any offense. Sadly, however, most NFL coaches play it close to the vest with a playbook more remindful of Woody Hayes’ “three yards and a cloud of dust” offense at Ohio State, than to the halcyon days when Hall of Fame QB Dan Fouts directed “Air Coryell,” which was among the greatest passing offenses in NFL history. The NFL, for its part, has opened up the game with unbelievably tight calls in the secondary, making nearly any passer and any receiver a serious threat. Yet, where are the option passes, the reverses, the fake punts and field goals, the long passes on first down or a long pass on third-and-1? Playing it safe has been the rule of the day, and playing it safe did nothing but doom the Jets in the end. As they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Sarah Kynast, in the swim
Sarah Kynast, in the swim

QUICK HITTERS: The Mercy College baseball team has announced its 2015 regular-season schedule. The squad will open their season on February 20 in Myrtle Beach, S.C., against the Skyhawks of Stonehill College. Jason Guadagnino of Stony Point, who was a three-sport standout at Spring Valley HS where he is now a mathematics teacher, is an assistant coach for the Mavericks.  Guadagnino pitched at both Mercy College and Manhattan College, and also for the Marbella Stars in Spain. … The Purchase College swimming team will be training in Florida in early January, before resuming competition on January 17 at Ramapo College in Mahwah, N.J., at 2 p.m.  Freshmen prospects for the Panthers are Alyssa Pfingst of Congers, who was graduated from Clarkstown North HS, and North Rockland HS alumna Sarah Kynast of Stony Point. … Sophomore forward Chris Carroll of New City, a graduate of Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey, N.J., and the men’s hockey team at Drexel University returns to action with back-to-back home games against Syracuse University on Jan. 9-10 at the Ice Arena in Philadelphia, Pa. The game on Jan. 9 is set to start at 7:45 p.m., while the game on Jan. 10 starts at 2:45 p.m. … Tappan Zee HS graduate Charles Garcia of Sparkill is a member of the Oneonta wrestling team, which visits Scranton on Jan. 7 at 6 p.m. Garcia, a junior, competes in the 141-pound

Nick Smith sparks Chargers
Nick Smith sparks Chargers

weight class. … Dominican College senior basketball standout Nick Smith of Middletown earned his second Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Player of the Week honor. Smith averaged an impressive 24.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game in a 1-3 week for the Chargers (5-7), who resume play on Jan. 4 against the University of Bridgeport in the 9th annual James Clancy Memorial Game at 2 p.m. at the Hennessy Center in Orangeburg. The Lady Chargers (5-8) start the new year on Jan. 2, visiting Pace University in Pleasantville at 2 p.m. … The St. Thomas Aquinas College men’s basketball team, which has lifted its record to 6-5, closes the year with the first of six home games in its next seven when it hosts Stonehill College at 3 p.m. on Dec. 31. The Lady Spartans open the doubleheader at 12:30 p.m., taking on Southern Connecticut State University.