In the news: Boxing and the Brain

19 12 2010

Docs say Manny knows best by Joaquin Henson

(PhilStar.com)  December 9, 2010

Dr. Domenic Coletta and Dr. Ray Monsell, leading exponents of safety in boxing, said recently that Manny Pacquiao – nobody else – is in the best position to know when to retire from the ring but strongly suggested he consider hanging up his gloves sooner than later.

Dr. Coletta, 56, is the president of the American Association of Professional Ringside Physicians (AAPRP), which was established 13 years ago to improve the safety standards of boxing. He is an emergency medicine specialist with the Cape Regional Medical Center in New Jersey. Dr. Monsell, 49, has been a ringside physician for 25 years and is an AAPRP board member based in Wales. They were both in Manila to speak at the “Boxing and the Brain” convention organized by the UP-PGH Department of Neurosciences in the Diamond Hotel on Roxas Boulevard last weekend.

“When to retire is one of the most difficult decisions a fighter makes,” said Dr. Coletta. “Every fighter wants one more fight, one more chance for the big one. I think a fighter should quit when he has accomplished enough. Joe Calzaghe retired undefeated and Lennox Lewis quit as world heavyweight champion. Oscar de la Hoya was a great fighter but unfortunately, he will be remembered for the beating he took from Manny Pacquiao in his last fight and that’s sad. As for Manny, maybe, he should consider retiring soon. What else does he have to prove?”

Dr. Coletta said if there’s a fight out there for Pacquiao, it should be against Floyd Mayweather Jr. “No doubt, Manny will beat Mayweather,” he added. “He’ll win by decision. I don’t think Manny can knock out Mayweather but Mayweather surely won’t knock out Manny.”

Dr. Coletta said in 1975, he was mesmerized by the drama that Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier brought to the ring in the “Thrilla In Manila.” “Today, the world is mesmerized by Manny,” he said. “He’s the greatest fighter pound-for-pound out there. I don’t follow his musical career and I don’t know how he’s doing as a politician. But as a fighter, I know there’s no one who can beat him in his weight class.”

Dr. Coletta said in Pacquiao’s recent fight against Antonio Margarito, referee Laurence Cole should be spared by critics for not stopping it but described as “ludicrous” holding up his fingers to check the Mexican’s vision at least twice.

“The referee was closest to the fighters,” said Dr. Coletta. “He obviously thought Margarito still had some fight left. I think you could justify stopping it and if it was stopped, nobody would’ve been shocked. What I found ludicrous was Cole holding up his fingers to check Margarito’s vision. That’s the ringside physician’s job. Cole had no business doing that. If he was bothered by Margarito’s swollen eye, he should’ve called in the ringside physician. What Cole did was a waste of time.”

Dr. Monsell agreed with Dr. Coletta that Cole shouldn’t be chastised for allowing the fight to go the distance. “Boxers are the fittest, toughest and bravest athletes in the world,” said Dr. Monsell. “Margarito took a bad beating. It was brutal, like a ritual slaying. Cole didn’t want to take away Margarito’s last chance to win by knockout, knowing how tough he is. And Manny looking at Cole as if to tell him to stop it didn’t work. I don’t think a referee will stop a fight because one of the fighters tells him to.”

Dr. Monsell recalled a 2004 cruiserweight fight involving Carl Thompson and Sebatiaan Rothmann in Yorkshire. “Rothmann had Thompson pinned against the ropes, hitting him at will,” said Dr. Monsell. “Then, Rothmann glanced at the referee, like he was asking when he would stop it. Suddenly, Thompson threw a vicious uppercut and Rothmann was knocked out. In boxing, it’s not over ‘til it’s over. It’s possible Cole had that in mind despite the beating Margarito took from Manny.”

Dr. Monsell said a Welsh flyweight Robbie Regan wore loose-fitting shoes for a fight once and in the second round, his feet began to blister. He went on to win a 12-round bout by decision but after the fight, both the soles of his feet were skinless. “It was a horrible sight,” said Dr. Monsell. “I asked Robbie what made him do it. He was in terrible pain from the second round. He replied that he couldn’t stop, that he had to win. He just didn’t think about the pain. That’s why boxers are special athletes.”

Dr. Monsell said it takes an experienced referee to recognize if a fight has to be stopped. “Take Ali’s fight against George Foreman,” he noted. “When Ali did his rope-a-dope, he took a lot of punches without giving back. An inexperienced referee would’ve stepped in because Ali appeared helpless. But as we all know now, it was part of a strategy and Ali came back to knock out Foreman.”

Dr. Monsell said boxers are a special breed. “They’ve got to be clever,” he said. “They must have the intelligence of a chess master, the agility of a ballerina, the stamina of a marathoner and the quickness of a sprinter.”

Dr. Monsell said simple neurological tests should be regularly administered on fighters to monitor their brain health.

“I don’t think we should wait for a fighter to deteriorate,” said Dr. Monsell. “We should find ways to determine if a fighter is on the way down. That’s when he should retire. It’s not correct to cite number of fights or number of losses as a measure of when a fighter should retire. In fact, there are studies that relate the amount of sparring to brain damage. Sparring, more than an actual fight, could cause serious brain injury.”

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Excerpt from Sporting Chance (Philippine Star)

Joaquin Henson December 10, 2010

Former Sen. Robert Jaworski, the Living Legend, delivered the keynote address during the “Boxing and the Brain” international convention at the Diamond Hotel on Roxas Boulevard last Friday. He was introduced by Makati Medical Center chairperson of neurology Dr. Regina Macalintal-Canlas who played a vital role in organizing the two-day seminar featuring foreign and local speakers.

The Big J lauded the seminar organizers for initiating the campaign to educate athletes, sports officials and fans on the incidence and consequence of brain injuries resulting from sports. He warned adventure-seekers of the dangers of engaging in thrilling activities that are no more than “a short-cut to death.” Jaworski, who authored or co-authored over 300 significant bills during his term in the Senate, particularly stressed the importance of educating those involved in training young kids from poor families who turn to boxing as a way out of poverty.

Jaworski related that over 30 years ago, he lay unconscious on the basketball floor after a hard fall in a game between Meralco and Yutivo in the MICAA. He said he owes his life – and career – to neurologists Dr. Ramon Suter and Dr. Bienvenido Aldanese who came to his rescue. It was one reason why Jaworski readily accepted the invitation from Dr. Canlas to speak at the seminar. Of course, the other reason was he could never turn down a request from his comadre Dr. Canlas.

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Where were the GAB officials this time? by Ronnie Nathanielsz

Inside Sports  (Inquirer Sports)  December 6, 2010

There was an important international convention titled “Boxing and the Brain”  last Friday and Saturday at the Diamond Hotel on Roxas Boulevard.

Hosted by the UP-Philippine General Hospital Department of Neurosciences in cooperation with the American Academy of Professional Ring Physicians, the convention gave us a broad insight into the various topics related to boxing and other contact sports.

We were privileged to be invited by Dr. Philip Ramiro and spent two enjoyable days listening to men whose expertise was amazing.

The presentations by Dr. Domenic Colleta, a ringside physician for some 25 years in New Jersey, and Dr. Joseph Estwanik, a sports medicine physician and orthopedic surgeon who has been a ringside physician for 30 years, as well as Dr. Raymond Monsell, who is also a ring doctor for 25 years, were not merely informative, they were actually enthralling.

That they were unabashed admirers of Manny Pacquiao added to the equation.

Our very own specialists like Dr. Godfrey Robeniol, Dr. Gerardo Legaspi, Dr. Willy Lopez, Dr. Fabian Dayrit, Dr. Claro Ison, Dr. Martin Camara and Dr. Carissa Dioquino also contributed substantially to our enjoyment in learning more about a sport we love with unbridled passion.

* * *

We were truly pleased to see internationally respected referee Bruce McTavish at the opening day’s session. He drove all the way from Angeles City despite his charitable community activities that forced him to leave early to attend to the needs of his 120 street children.

Columnist Quinito Henson, who continues to undergo therapy for a badly damaged wrist, showed up too on Day 1 although he had to leave for a therapeutic session.

On Day 2, Chino Trinidad spent the whole day with us.

Unfortunately, individuals from the Games and Amusements Board, headed by boxing division chief Dr. Nasser Cruz, were a no-show, except for Dr. Redentor Viernes who showed up on the first day.

The GAB officials, who should be directly concerned with boxing and the brain, didn’t have the good sense, or perhaps lacked the brains, to realize how informative the sessions were and how much it would have benefited them in doing their job.

* * *

The three ringside doctors paid their own way in a sincere desire to enhance our understanding of boxing, the co-relation between boxing and the various types of brain injuries and, most importantly, helped us appreciate the crucial role played by ringside physicians and referees in ensuring the safety and protection of professional boxers.

But GAB officials apparently couldn’t find the time, or didn’t have the inclination, to attend and to learn—which is something they badly need to do.

These men find time to gallivant around the world attending the various annual world boxing conventions like the last WBC Convention in Cancun, Mexico.

They find time to attend every Manny Pacquiao fight when he really doesn’t need them to protect him, in the process spending hard-earned taxpayer’s money.

Yet, when a convention is held in the heart of Manila, they didn’t show up despite the invitations.

* * *

What was even more noticeable was that the Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines representatives attended, further underscoring the utter lack of concern of the GAB.

It was distressing, to say the least, and showed once again the utter lack of priorities of the GAB and their callous disregard for a sport where they exercise supervision and control.

Being under the Office of the President, regrettably this attitude reflects poorly on the national leadership.

It’s time President Aquino make some hard decisions devoid of politics because he cannot allow a sport that continues to bring our people so much joy be treated in such an indifferent fashion.


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