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Thread: Concussion: Now It’s Boxing’s Turn

  1. #1

    Concussion: Now It’s Boxing’s Turn

    Concussion: Now It’s Boxing’s Turn - “("Iron Mike" Webster was) a formidable man, at 6-foot-2 and 250 pounds, who sometimes forgot to eat for days -- sleeping in his battered, black Chevy S-10 pickup truck, a garbage bag duct-taped over the missing window. ?Sometimes he didn’t seem to care,’ said Sunny Jani, the primary caregiver the last six years of his life.” – Greg Garber, ESPN.com

    They said he had died of a heart attack, but when I first saw photos of former NFL football legend Mike Webster with his forehead protruding grotesquely and a shelf of scar tissue over his eyebrows, I was pretty certain his issues were more frontal lobe than heart condition. Cardiac arrest may be how he died but not why. You could see it plainly during this interview toward the end. It’s difficult to witness, particularly for those familiar with why Mike was called “Iron” Mike and this was long before the NFL and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) would be connected through Mike’s death and legacy:” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzc0Lrxw3KY

    *“Dementia footballistica. This is crazy. This has never been identified before.” --Ronald Hamilton, neuropathologist

    “[Like dementia pugilistica], it doesn’t get better?’You get more and more demented. It’s sad.’’-- Dr. Fred Jay Krieg,

    Fast Forward

    The 2015 Sony Pictures movie “Concussion,” based on an article by Jeanne Marie Lascars titled “Bennet Omalu, Concussions, and the NFL: How One Doctor Changed Football Forever,” was not about boxing, at least not directly. It was about football which has gained more attention thanks to pioneering forensic pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu who discovered neurological deterioration similar to Alzheimer’s disease while conducting an autopsy on Mike Webster. Omalu described Webster’s brain as one of “a boxer, a sufferer of Alzheimer’s...or someone who had suffered a severe head wound."

    The doctor found that Mike’s brain contained the buildup of an abnormal form of a protein called tau. This buildup, which is also an Alzheimer’s hallmark, leads to brain cell death. Tau was kind of like sludge, clogging up the works, killing cells in regions responsible for mood, emotions, and executive functioning,” he said.

    There is no treatment and no cure for CTE. The only known way to prevent it is to avoid repeated head injuries. However, several major research initiatives are underway. Omalu has set out to cure CTE. "You pop a pill before you play, a medicine that prevents the buildup of tau,...like you take an aspirin to prevent heart disease. Why not?,” he says.

    Thus, and to make a very long story short, there was no other explanation for Webster’s deterioration; the repeated banging of his brain against his skull had damaged the brain’s nerve cells. Amidst controversy (and denial and pushback from the NFL), Omalu named the disorder Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) and published his findings in a medical journal. The NFL called his findings flawed.

    To be precise about the origin of CTE, eminent doctor John Stiller states “Dr. Omalu deserves credit for standing up to the NFL and others and for officially reporting ‘CTE’ in an NFL player. However, he was not the first to describe either the principle neuropathological features of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) or the first to use the term CTE to describe this type of chronic brain damage likely the result of repetitive concussive and subconcussive brain traumas.

    The principle neuropathological features were described in the seminal report of ex-boxers diagnosed with Dementia Pugilistica or punch drunk syndrome by Jan Corsellis, a renowned British neuropathologist, and colleagues in 1973.” (Corsellis, J. A., Bruton, C. J. & Freeman-Browne, D. “The aftermath of boxing;” Psychol. Med. 3, 270–303, 1973).

    The term chronic traumatic encephalopathy of boxers was used by MacDonald Critchley the eminent British neurologist in a paper published in 1949 (Punch-drunk syndromes: the chronic traumatic encephalopathy of boxers. Hommage à Clovis Vincent. Paris: Critchley, M (1949) and again in a paper published in 1957 (Medical aspects of boxing, particularly from a neurological standpoint. Br Med J 1957; 1: 357 Critchley, M (1957).

    That was then and this is now, and now, as other athletes face the same diagnosis, the crusading doctor has raised public awareness about the dangers of football-related head trauma.* No more denials; no more pushback. The doctor has studied too many brains for any pushback.

    The film spread the story of CTE’s discovery in football players—and the NFL’s years of alleged inaction. Unable to change the past, the NFL is now focusing on the future, but over the last decade, the league has repeatedly avoided tying football to brain damage, even as it has given disability payments to former players with dementia-related conditions—including Mike Webster (but that’s another shameful story for another day). Yet, in all fairness, the league has clearly taken extra measures in recent years to make the game safer.

    Boxing

    Aside from a few high-profile doctors like John Stiller, Margaret Goodman, Ray Monsell, Joel Kleinman and others from the Association of Ring Physicians (ARP), no one has really come out in the manner of Bennet Omalu to dramatize the fact that if football produces CTE, what precisely does boxing produce?

    Tom Moyer, the filmmaker of the riveting (and frightening) documentary “After the Last Round” says he made the movie because he was so tormented by the head injuries that stripped his boxing cousins of their memories. His goal is to increase awareness so more people will care. The documentary has had minimal distribution, which is a shame. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=waJTKs_Uv-8

    Writer Steve Buffery of the Toronto Sun touches the tip of the iceberg when he says, “They [boxers] have no pension; in fact, most walk away with less than nothing, because they leave boxing with less than what they had going in.”

    Compared to professional football players and with a very few exceptions, boxers have just about nothing. Thus, for those who suffer chronic traumatic encephalopathy or pugilistic Parkinson’s syndrome, Parkinson’s tremors (which is not as deadly}, or dementia pugilistica (aka boxer’s syndrome), matters won’t improve. Dementia pugilistica is a one-way ticket to Palookaville. While other injuries such as cuts and fractures can be repaired, brain tissue, once damaged, remains irreversibly damaged. The plain fact is Dementia Pugilistica is a variant of CTE.

    Football, soccer, rugby, and hockey teams and wrestlers are, for the most part, represented by unions. Boxers have no such collective strength. Unless promoters (see postscript below) and state commissions do something, no one else will. It simply is what it is. But all the hoopla these days is about catch weight, doping, PPV counts, and other things that mask the darker side of boxing—the one in which the thousands of rounds and blows in the gym eventually offset any possible feeling of hope.

    Except for the elite few who enjoy their place at the tip of the pyramid, most boxers do, in fact, leave the sport with less than what they had going in.

    Now this is not about Rocky Balboa who was named the seventh greatest movie hero, and who solved the Cold War with Russia by beating the evil Ivan Drago and who, as a 60-year-old, even overcame suspected brain damage to go the distance with Mason Dixon. This is about reality. What happened to Iron Mike Webster was every bit as horrible as what happened to boxing’s Moyer brothers and to the Quarrys.

    This is about former boxer, sparring partner, and highly respected trainer John Bray who has now been clinically diagnosed with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy at the Cleveland Clinic in Las Vegas. (Pugilistic Dementia is considered a sub-type of CTE.) John also has Alzheimer’s and Cavum Septum Pellucidum as a result of his boxing career. He is 46.

    This is a subject that no longer can be ignored by those who essentially run boxing, or by those who write about it, or by those who comment about it.

    Postscript: The Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas is in the midst of a multiyear study of professional boxers and their brains to determine just what happens to them, and when, and why, and how and if it can be prevented. The study, which unites Golden Boy, Top Rank, MMA, and U.S. Senators, has enrolled nearly 400 active and retired fighters with the goal of evaluating 625 by its completion. Participation is completely voluntary, and fighters in the study receive free, ongoing assessments of their brain health and brain function, including MRI scans. Individual tests will be repeated annually for at least four years. It’s a great, great start!

    - - -
    Ted Sares is one of the world’s oldest active power lifters and holds several records. He enjoys writing about boxing and is a member of Ring 4's Boxing Hall of Fame.

    Concussion: Now It’s Boxing’s Turn / Check out more boxing news and videos at The Boxing Channel.

  2. #2
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    Re: Concussion: Now It’s Boxing’s Turn

    I think the scariest quote I ever read was this: "Please help me," A Tormented Mike Webster.

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    Re: Concussion: Now It’s Boxing’s Turn

    I run the MRI department in NY. My chairman is a boxing fan and would be interested in participating in any of these studies. Please forward any info.

    Just got my application for the first annual Brooklyn championships at pac plex in October.

    The death waiver always catches my attention. It is what it is. Any punch or headbutt can finish me off of make me a vegetable.

    I assume all risks. It's my life on the line.

    I could have had a pro career but I choose this fine profession instead.

    Liberty and freedom for all!

  4. #4

    Re: Concussion: Now It’s Boxing’s Turn

    "with a very few exceptions, boxers have just about nothing. "

    How about starting with basic health insurance, PAID BY THE PROMOTERS and ARENA and
    TV STATIONS that show the fights. They are making money on the boxers, ffs sake how about
    a little protection for them!

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    Re: Concussion: Now It’s Boxing’s Turn

    Quote Originally Posted by deepwater2 View Post
    I run the MRI department in NY. My chairman is a boxing fan and would be interested in participating in any of these studies. Please forward any info.

    Just got my application for the first annual Brooklyn championships at pac plex in October.

    The death waiver always catches my attention. It is what it is. Any punch or headbutt can finish me off of make me a vegetable.

    I assume all risks. It's my life on the line.

    I could have had a pro career but I choose this fine profession instead.

    Liberty and freedom for all!

    Give me your email mate. Also, see my reply to Radam down below. Lots of stuff in there. I have done hours and hours of research into this topic and the bottom line is a simple one. There is no cure but they think they know the cause.
    Last edited by Kid Blast; 08-17-2016 at 07:28 PM.

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    Re: Concussion: Now It’s Boxing’s Turn

    Quote Originally Posted by FrankinDallas View Post
    "with a very few exceptions, boxers have just about nothing. "

    How about starting with basic health insurance, PAID BY THE PROMOTERS and ARENA and
    TV STATIONS that show the fights. They are making money on the boxers, ffs sake how about
    a little protection for them!

    It's sickening. And it's not going to get much better. NYSAC was doing something but I don't know where it stands. Problem here is that if these guys get CTE, they won't be around long enough for insurance to matter unless it pays for a nursing home and good luck to that. They are caught in a Catch-22. At least the football players had a union and solid benefits.

  7. #7

    Re: Concussion: Now It’s Boxing’s Turn

    One hell of a sad and depressing story. A well written and interesting piece, Ted. It one reason why I don't watch boxing like I used to. I live day-to-day with low-back pain from pounding my body over the years. Had I known I was going to live as long as I have, I'd taken better care of myself.

  8. #8

    Re: Concussion: Now It’s Boxing’s Turn

    I well recall that you played football in Chicago. Did you ever experience any concussions? Go to the hospital or a doctor?

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    Re: Concussion: Now It’s Boxing’s Turn

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnnyTango View Post
    One hell of a sad and depressing story. A well written and interesting piece, Ted. It one reason why I don't watch boxing like I used to. I live day-to-day with low-back pain from pounding my body over the years. Had I known I was going to live as long as I have, I'd taken better care of myself.

    You can still do a great Tango

    BTW, Boxing is not an activity that often has a happy ending. Depressing stories are the norm IMO.
    Last edited by Kid Blast; 08-17-2016 at 07:29 PM.

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    Re: Concussion: Now It’s Boxing’s Turn

    Quote Originally Posted by larueboenig View Post
    I well recall that you played football in Chicago. Did you ever experience any concussions? Go to the hospital or a doctor?
    Believe it or not, I got one in touch football when some rat elbowed me in the head. That night, I put my gym shoes in the refrigerator and then vomited. But I never saw a doctor. That was a concussion. In football proper, I was the one who dished out concussions.

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