Alex Ramos: Give Mike Tyson a Chance at Rehabilitation
05.01.07 - Open Letter By Alex Ramos: I am the founder and president of the Retired Boxers Foundation. Our mission is to assist retired professional boxers in the transition from their glorious days in the ring, to a dignified retirement. We are writing this letter of support for Mike Tyson, who is a friend. Needless to say, public perception of the retired champion is based on what they read or what they see in the media. Having been in the fight game for over twenty-five years, I can tell you with confidence, that much of what is said in the press is said to promote a fight or the fighter. Most of it is fiction. Granted, there are facts that cannot be over looked, but there are also many factors that lead to the ugly side of a messed up fighter. I know from my own personal experiences as well as the experiences of the hundreds of retired fighters we have helped..
Article posted on 05.01.2007
At the Retired Boxers Foundation, we choose to look at a fighter in need just like the emergency room doctor examining a gunshot victim: We don't ask the patient whose fault it was, why they were where they were, or what started the altercation. Like the ER doctor, we evaluate what is in front of us and treat what we see.
Unfortunately, law enforcement and the courts have to look at these issues and all we are saying is that we could save the taxpayers in Arizona a lot of money if they can get Mike the medical care he needs and drug treatment.
Arizona, like most states has an Intensive Dual Diagnosis Treatment program that would be more effective for Mike than jail time. It would be the more humane thing to do. I, for one, recognize Mike Tyson for the contributions he has made to us every time he entered that ring and risked his life for our entertainment. We are suggesting that a more compassionate thing to do would be to give him a chance at rehabilitation.
Basically, we are asking the people of Arizona not to jump to conclusions too quickly. While the Prosecutor wants jail time for Tyson, we believe he should be treated, not as a celebrity, but as an ordinary man who needs help. The facts support the allegation that Mike Tyson has a drug problem, and he admitted as much. By all reports, he has behaved as a gentleman both at the scene and in court. Mike was given a field sobriety test, which he failed.
What most people do not know is that the field sobriety test is, in reality, three tests known as the Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST), which are used in every state. The tests are basically observations of a defendant's balance, coordination, and ability to follow directions. While the SFST is used to assess a person's impairment, it does not necessarily mean impairment due to alcohol consumption, although that is primarily the reason the test is administered. What is important to note in Mike Tyson's case is that he failed the field sobriety test, but did NOT test positive for blood alcohol.
The failure of Mike Tyson to pass the SFST is far more likely to be the result of a brain injury causing neuro-cognitive impairment. There are more than 2 million cases of traumatic brain injury every year. Of these, some 300,000 require hospitalization and approximately 80,000 develop a serious chronic and profoundly life-changing alteration of their brains, their behaviors and their personal life.
Mike Tyson has been in many wars, inside and out of the boxing ring. As a heavyweight, it is obvious that the blows he has absorbed could have caused more damage than you or I can see, but his actions clearly indicate that he has suffered and continues to suffer from a declining emotional state, for which is may be using drugs to treat his depression that even he does not seem to understand. The Retired Boxers Foundation and our medical advisory board recommend a complete neuro-psych evaluation for Mike, and that he specifically be evaluated for what clearly appears to be neuro-cognitive impairments. Mike Tyson would not be the only retired fighter suffering from impulsivity, poor judgment, disorganization, irritability, mood swings (to name a few) that are classic symptoms of chronic or traumatic brain injury.
We are not providing this as an "excuse" for Mike Tyson's mistakes, but more so to educate the public on the injuries suffered by many people, not just boxers, who suffer from traumatic or chronic brain injuries.
I have lived this life and I have suffered from frontal and temporal lobe damage. My Executive Director, Jacquie Richardson, said I am the "Poster Child" for retired boxers who suffer damage as a result of not just boxing, but poor choices in terms of substance abuse and life style. I know from my own experience that treatment helps and that there are medications that can help Mike Tyson live a less chaotic life. It ain't easy, but with commitment, he can have a satisfying retirement.
For more information on Brain Injuries, please visit the Retired Boxers Foundation website at www.retiredboxers.org, and look under the "Resources" tab.
Alex "The Bronx Bomber" Ramos
Founder & President
RETIRED BOXERS FOUNDATION
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