Darien, Connecticut – September 28, 2005 – The American Association of Professional Ringside Physician’s (AAPRP) Medical Conference was held September 22-25, 2005 at the Tropicana Casino Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Over 150 doctors, commissioners, members and guests attended this year’s conference on boxing safety.. This year’s program took on a greater meaning with the news of the Leavander Johnson tragedy and the urgency to develop protocols with the goal of preventing further boxing deaths. A moment of silence was observed during the program in honor of Mr. Johnson and his dedication to the sport.
Topics discussed included an update on Federal Legislation, a ‘behind the scenes ‘ look into the medical examinations on the NBC Production of “The Contender” and the pre-participation physical examination Dr. John Stiller’s discussed his ongoing medical study on chronic brain injuries and Dr. Raymond Monsell’s discussion of neuropsychological testing and its use in the early detection of brain injuries. New Jersey’s Chief Ringside Physician, Dr. Domenic Coletta presented, (to a panel of ringside physician experts), various examples of medical abnormalities and whether they would allow the participant’s to compete in a segment entitled “The Show Must Go On.”
The future of ringside medicine was examined as company representatives from Orasure and Instant Technologies presented and discussed “Rapid HIV Testing in Boxing” and “Rapid Urine Drug Screening of the Boxer” as part of the pre-fight screening process. Both technologies offer potential benefits to commissions, boxers and promoters including reduced costs and expedited results in order to prevent the transmission of infectious diseases in the ring. Additionally, a panel comprised of female fighter’s and boxing experts discussed the “Medical Aspects of Female Boxing.” The panel included Mr. Jacqui Frazier-Lyde, Ms. Jaime Clampitt, Ms. Ann Marie Saccurato and Ms. Diane Fischer. The panel provided invaluable insight into the sport and discussed many misconceptions concerning injuries, female boxing equipment and the benefits of the two–minute round. The panel was in disagreement on whether a female should fight a male (the proposed Ann Wolfe v. Bo Skipper contest.) Ms. Saccurato believed it would benefit the sport and be an interesting contest where as Ms. Clampitt and Ms. Frazier-Lyde felt that no woman should ever get into the ring with a man since it would increase the risks of injuries and would portray the sport in a circus atmosphere. The AAPRP members were in agreement that such a contest could increase the likelihood of a ringside catastrophe.
Dr. Margaret Goodman gave an excellent review on the dangers of steroids and performance enhancing drugs and Dr. Robert Cantu gave his insight into intracranial bleeds and how the Joe Mesi injury differs from other brain injuries. The AAPRP members voiced their concerns and the potential consequences should Mr. Mesi return to boxing, although most agreed that further studies are needed to investigate the causes and risks of sub-dural brain bleeding.
This year’s awards banquet began as Mr. Gerry Cooney presented the vital work of The Fighters’ Initiative for Support and Training (F.I.S.T.) and how the AAPRP can assist his organization in improving the future for boxers. Mr. Teddy Atlas described the Dr. Theodore Atlas Foundation and the wonderful work done by the group to improve the lives of those less fortunate. He applauded the AAPRP and its goal of promoting safety in boxing. Other guest speakers included referee Mr. Steve Smoger and ‘Contender’ star Mr. Tommy Gallagher. The keynote speech was delivered by Mr. Lou Duva who described the crucial role of the trainers and managers in protecting their fighter’s and the need for doctors to be more involved in the sport.
This year’s award recipients included Mr. George Horowitz (CEO – Everlast) receiving the “Lifetime Achievement Award” for his work and dedication in developing safety equipment to protect the boxer. In addition, Dr. Joseph Estwanik received the “Educator of the Year” award and NBC’s “The Contender” received the “Outstanding Contribution to Boxing” award. Mr. Larry Hazzard, Sr. received the “Administrator of the Year” award and was overwhelmed and teary eyed when several young fighter’s from the ‘Community Organization Making Boxing Alternatives Today for Tomorrow’ (COMBATT) dedicated their amateur championship belts to Mr. Hazzard in appreciation for all his support in improving the lives of these youngsters. Dr. Michael Schwartz received this year’s “Ringside Physician of the Year” award for his work as Chief Ringside Physician for the Mohegan Tribal Nation, Foxwoods Resorts Casino and the State of Connecticut.
The boxer’s panel on boxing safety included Mr. Monte Barrett, Mr. Calvin Brock, Mr. Brian Adams and Mr. Paul Malignaggi. Each fighter gave passionate insight on the relationship between boxers and doctors and the need for better communication and understanding between the groups. Mr. Barrett commented on the use of larger gloves while sparring and his anecdotal experience of decreased injuries; including concussions. The AAPRP is proposing a study and recommendation that boxers consider utilizing a larger glove size while sparring hopefully decreasing the cumulative force of head blows. This theory postulates that repetitive head blows in training may possible potentiate acute and chronic brain damage.
Following the boxer’s panel was the media panel, which included the “Heavyweights” in boxing journalism. The group included Mr. Tim Smith, Mr. Ron Borgess, Mr. Bernard Fernandez and Mr. Jack Obermayer. Each writer discussed the recent injuries in the sport and the need for more information from the doctors. In response, the doctors asked for more consideration from the media in understanding and respecting the complexity of ringside medicine. Both groups agreed to improve communication through dialogue with the hope of improving the public’s perception of boxing safety and the role of the ringside physician. The media group applauded the doctors for their dedication to improve the sport. Other speakers included Mr. Emanuel Steward and Mr. Alex Ramos.
Also discussed was the AAPRP proposed medical data bank. The data bank will record medical information and can be utilized to monitor and improve the medical care needed for the boxer’s safety. Mr. Ron Ross and Mr. Emile Griffith discussed the documentary “Ring of Fire” in which Benny “kid” Paret died as a result of his injuries in the fight. An emotional ending to a conference in which the death of Leavnader Johnson was embedded into everyone’s mind.
Everyone who attended agreed that the education gained would help them become better trained in ringside medicine and will ultimately improve safety in boxing. Commissioner Larry Hazzard, Sr. stated, “I went back to school for three days and can’t believe what I learned about boxing!”
For more information, please contact the AAPRP or visit our website at www.AAPRP.Org or call (203) 662-8900