TSS checked in with ringside doc Rick Weinstein, a fixture at NYC-area fight cards. We were curious what he does, how he got into it..Check out this Q n A…
Q) Hi Doctor. Can you tell us about you, and how and why you got into boxing, and why you work as a ringside physician.
A) My name is Rick Weinstein. I went to med school at NYU in the city and then did internship in General Surgery at North Shore Hospital on Long Island. I did my orthopedic surgery residency at Bronx-Lebanon Hospital/Albert Einstein in the South Bronx – a great place to learn ortho. I did a fellowship in sports medicine at University of Connecticut and Yale University with specialty training in knee and shoulder as well as arthroscopic and minimally invasive surgery.
After my training, I was hired by my old program to be the Residency Director at Bronx-Lebanon Hospital and 2 years later, I was made the Chairman of Orthopedic Surgery. Shortly after, I left the Bronx to work in Westchester and I am currently the Director of Orthopedic Surgery at Westchester Health Associates. In 1996, I was asked to work as a ringside doctor in Connecticut and worked my first fights at Foxwoods Casino and Mohegan Sun. When I moved to New York in 1997, I was appointed to the New York State Athletic Commission. I have worked fights at Madison Square Garden, Barclay’s Center, Resorts Casino and many other sites around New York State. I have had the great experience of working with and meeting interesting boxing characters including Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Manny Pacquia, Roy Jones just to name a few.
Q) Tell us what you actually do, please, as a ringside physician.
A) I have been a member of the Association of Ringside Physicians since 1998 and was elected to the Board. This international organization has over a hundred members and serves to help protect boxers. We have an annual conference and I have been involved in teaching and training ringside doctors for over 16 years. I was also appointed as Medical Director of the International Boxing Federation (IBF) in 2013 and have given lectures and instructed judges, referees and cornermen around the world including in Germany, Montreal and Atlantic City.
Working ringside gives me the best seat to watch some great athletes. I examine the boxers before the fight and make sure they are qualified and safe medically to box. I sit in the corner at ringside during the fight and watch for any signs of significant injury that may require the fight to be stopped. I am very fortunate in NY that we have great referees that are also on top of the fighters and look for injuries that require the fight to be stopped. After the fight, I check the boxers and often times ending up sewing them up from the cuts they received during the fight. Occasionally there are serious injuries and I have to send the boxer to the hospital in the ambulance we have at the fight.
I view my role as there to protect the boxers. I will stop a fight if a boxer cannot adequately defend himself or if one eye is so swollen he cannot see out of it.
Q) I’m curious…you have kids…would you let them box?
A) I have 2 sons. Ben is 16 and Tyler 13. I would let my kids do boxing training but I would prefer they not actually box. Boxing is a phenomenal cardio work out and I encourage my patients and kids and even my wife to do boxing work outs.Q) What are some of the things you must pay attention to during a fight?
In the Klitschko/Jennings fight I worked, I was dealing with 2 tremendous boxers. These heavyweights have tremendous power and can really hurt each other. Both are tremendous punchers as well experienced boxers. Heavyweights can knock each other out with a single punch. Lighter weight boxers typically throw many more punches and are less likely to knock out an opponent. With these heavyweights it is very important for a doctor at ringside to pay careful attention as the fight can change with a single punch.
Q) I do wonder..is there any conflict inherent in the job for you, as a person entrusted to aid in healing?
A) Being a ringside doc is very exciting. It is an honor to take care of these athletes and help protect them. Some doctors question why I would work ringside at a sport that they consider dangerous. We all must understand that boxing can be a dangerous sport and that having a doctor with experience really does help protect these athletes. There are more injuries percentage-wise in many other sports including football and cheerleading. Boxing is one of the only sports where every athlete is examined individually before, during and after competing. Almost all doctors and patients think it is great that I work at the boxing matches and the question I get more than “why do you this?” is “can you get me tickets?”