Worcester County Man Worked to Keep Ali Great - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Worcester County Man Worked to Keep Ali Great

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Muhammad Ali (Photo: Dick Passwater) Muhammad Ali (Photo: Dick Passwater)

WORCESTER COUNTY, Md. - Now retired in Worcester County, Dick Passwater was a nutritionist for the Washington Redskins in the mid-1970s before getting a phone call from a member of Muhammad Ali's entourage.

"He said, 'is there something you can do with Muhammad?  We're having a little trouble getting him motivated.  He's a little overweight.'  He was considerably overweight and he was lacking his traditional energy," Passwater told WBOC on Monday.

Passwater for the former heavyweight champion of the world's nutritionist from 1976 until about 1980.  Passwater even joined Ali ringside for two of his fights in Landover, Maryland.  However, Passwater said he will remember Ali for how he was outside of the ring.

"His humor.  You knew after a little bit what we was going to say.  He had some standard jokes.  He was always funny.  He knew what the audience would do, and we knew what the audience would do, but we were still laughing anyway because he's just funny.

Ali, 74, died late Friday evening at a Phoenix area hospital after fighting Parkinson's disease for over 30 years.  Ali was a larger than life character that stole the spotlight every time he was on television.  However, when the cameras were not rolling, Passwater said Ali was a much softer, generous, and caring person.  But, he was also stubborn.  Passwater said he and Ali disagreed numerous times, particularly over whether Ali should continue fighting.  Ali, according to Passwater, always had an excuse to do one more fight.  

"It was obvious he was taking a beating.  He just didn't have the reflexes.  It was more of 'go ahead and give me your best shot and I'll stand here still fighting.'  And he was getting too many blows to his head."

Passwater told WBOC the news of Ali's passing was certainly sad but not unexpected.  And while the champ may be gone, Dick Passwater will always have the memories of helping Ali float like a butterfly and sting like a bee, like he did early in his career.

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