GLADIATORS: Boxing Is A Bloody Dangerous Sports BUT We'll Never Ban It
Alvarado pays the price. Prospects for brain damage in long-run?
As I viewed the post-fight interview that H.B.O. commentator, Max Kellerman conducted with a somber, and downcast, Mike “Mile High” Alvarado in his dressing room after his devastating knockout loss to Ruslan “The Siberian Rocky” Provodnikov, I couldn’t help but wonder about not only the “pain” of having lost his cherished 140 pound W.B.O. Title, but also how much additional injury he suffered.
I counted at least 6 bloody bruises from his rib cage to his upper shoulders, and then of course the almost grotesque and misshapen look of his head which displayed his bloody nose, his bloodied mouth, and the large swelling on his right eye orbital area.
I immediately “flashed” back to the fractured right eye socket that both, Antonio Margarito and Paulie Malignaggi suffered in their losing fights. Margarito against Manny Pacquiao, and Malignaggi against, Miguel Cotto. These injuries occurred many years ago and Malignaggi is still active in the ring, but Margarito has since retired, but, unfortunately is planning a comeback to the ring wars.
Why am I going in this direction you ask? It is simply because I wonder since the Provodnikov fight who was also injured how much additional damage Alvarado suffered. For example, his swollen right eye indicated to me that he was internally bleeding without a break of his skin. Your skin is like a “balloon”, it stretches until it bursts. Was the blood “leaking” from his brain causing him brain damage? We will never really know because in a few months after “R&R” at home, Mile High Mile Alvarado will return to the gym and restart his boxing career.
As per the Siberian Rocky Provodnikov, after getting the cut on his right eye stitched, celebrating his victory with mom, Nadia, and family, he’ll go back to the gym to resume his career and also plan who to fight next.
That is the life of a fighter no matter how many years he is in the hurt business, remember there is no mandatory retirement, nor a pension system.
The very grave question is Alvarado going through the beginnings of brain damage that lead to serious long term damage in the future even after his career is over. Damage consist of dementia pugilistica, memory loss, slurred speech, tremor and abnormal walking. The “Greatest”, Muhammad Ali is tragically a perfect example of lasting ring injuries, suffering from Parkinson’s disease, while others contract Alzheimer’s.
Yes, this is a great “sport” that has produced many great beloved champions through the centuries like the great “Brown Bomber”, Joe Louis, and many people justify boxing’s existence because it takes the urban community ghetto kid of all ethnic backgrounds, especially the Black and Latino out of poverty, makes him a hero and allows him entry into a world of rich celebrity despite the health sacrifice.
Remember the “Rocky” movies? Many people especially women became boxing fans, and many young men became boxers because of those true to life fantasy films. Everybody wanted to be a Rocky or maybe even an Apollo Creed.
Yes, the list is world-wide as to how to become somebody coming “off the streets”, and getting into boxing. To name just a few, you have the Floyd Mayweathers, Grand Rapid, Michigan; Robert Duran, Panama; Sugar Ray Robinson, Harlem; Emile Griffith, Brooklyn; Miguel Cotto, Puerto Rico; Manny Pacquiao, the Philippines; Oscar De La Hoya, Mexico; Bernard Hopkins, Philadelphia; and, so forth.
Are they now suffering from any brain damage? Your guess is as good as mine, but we won't know until in the years to come. Remember, Hopkins is 48 years old and still fighting, and surprisingly, talking to him as I have many times he sounds very articulate, and no slurring of his words. Hopkins has become somewhat of an “elder” statesman of the sweet science using the anecdotes such as that he considers himself a “chess player” as opposed to a “checkers player”.
He explained that the idea of boxing is to hit and not get hit, and a chess player calculates every one of his moves while a checkers player rushes in to hit and also gets hit. “I have not scored a knockout in over 10 years, that’s not getting old it is a well calculated strategy that you could use to win the fight without getting hurt, and last a long time in this business. Chess players don’t get hurt and they always win, look at Floyd Mayweather. I have 20 championship belts at home in my trophy case and never got hurt earning them in my 61 fight career even in those that I lost because I am a chess player.” Hopkins added, “people boo a boxer like me, but they cheer a slugger like Provodnikov. What the fan does not understand is although we are both victorious, I didn’t suffer any injuries, but Provodnikov did as both our hands are raised in triumph. The means to an end is the win even if it is just a “boring” decision.”
I do not know if Boxing Commissions enforce a mandatory exam of fighters after their fights, meaning brain scans, M.R.I.’S, because a boxer may have incurred a brain injury during his career in any fight. A tragic example is that of a young Mexican boxer only 26 years old who recently died of a brain injury he suffered in a fight in which he was knocked out. There is speculation that he may have had that injury before when he suffered a brutal beating and a knockout loss in a previous fight in 2012, where he was taken from the ring in a stretcher. Was he given a thorough brain exam then? Your guess is as good as mine.
Beny “Kid” Paret died in his fight with Emile Griffith. Many blame Emile but Paret had been brutally battered and knocked out in a previous fight a few months before with middleweight, Gene Fulmer. Was he thoroughly examined after the Fulmer fight, and was any brain injury detected before the Griffith fight? We will never get any answers to these questions.
Getting back to Alvarado and Provodnikov, it was this very same Provodnikov who before the Alvarado fight battled Timothy Bradley, and although he lost to Bradley, he battered him so badly that Bradley while preparing to fight Juan Manuel Marquez, admitted in an interview that his injuries from the Provodnikov fight beside being knocked down twice, were a concussion, and also a slurred voice and headaches, that lasted almost 6 weeks obligating him to go to the doctor. Was he “cleared” to fight Marquez? Another unanswered question.
Yet, this is a “healthy” sport that builds character, confidence, self-protection, but there is a price to pay viewing the list of resulting injuries: Bleeding Brain, Blood Clots, Blindness, Detached Retinas, Broken Noses, Broken Jaws, Cauliflower Ears, Slurred Voice, Concussions, Fractured eye-sockets, Broken hands, Severe cuts, Fractured ribs, Kidney & liver damage, Dental problems, Internal bleeding, Blindness, Shuffling walk-“punch-drunk”, and it also makes an ex-boxer more vulnerable to other diseases as he is aging.
Yet, like little league Baseball, Football, Basketball, many kids turn to boxing, even though their parents frown against it. Remember, that if we are just talking about professional boxing, these injuries sometimes begin in the Amateurs. Many ring fatalities and the above mentioned injuries have been registered in Amateur competition, from Olympic competition all the way down to small local competitions, like when I started in the Police Athletic League-(P.A.L.) at 10 years of age with a head protector, and big “pillow” gloves.
A fighter’s hands are wrapped with gauze to protect the hand from breaking but, in the end that hand becomes a hard punishing missile when you hit an opponent. An addition to this danger is the boxing glove itself. They are manufactured of a style to allow a fighter to inflict even more punishment on his opponent even though they are made to “protect” the boxer’s hands. Are we really that far removed from the “good old bare knuckle days” of fighting? Again, your guess is as good as mine.
There are many agencies such as the A.M. A.-American Medical Association- who want to ban the sport addressing the issues of even the Military that allows boxing, but complains that they do indeed lose many soldiers due to boxing injuries.
They are joined by many civil rights groups, political groups, sociologists, “decent” groups who are troubled by this sport that allows two men or women, most often minorities to hurt each other for the entertainment of a mostly white audience who actually pay to see such brutality.
Boxing will never be discontinued despite the everlasting danger. There will always be a demand for it and with boxing promoters recruiting kids especially out of the Olympic Games, like Muhammad Ali, and rewarding them with lucrative sign-in bonuses, boxing is here “forever”. The kid almost becomes an instant millionaire with the promises of more wealth and fame. Look at Baseball, Football, and Basketball. Some of these kids are drafted right out of High School like LeBron James. So why not Boxing?
Boxing also has been a part of this country's ugly history. During Slavery, plantation owners matched enslaved Africans with those from other plantation owners in a fight to the death. The plantation owners placed large bets while the enslaved Africans had to brutalize each other to please the crowd.
The same thing happens today, so in reality nothing has changed in the “sweet science”. We have “America’s Past-time” Baseball, and have the “Sport of Kings”, Horse Racing, and we also have “The Sweet Science”. Put on your thinking caps and tell me which one is the more brutal, and yet we love it.
Laila Ali, Ali’s daughter also was an undefeated world champion in the women’s category would not allow her own children to box under any circumstances even if they themselves wanted to fight. She has a son, Curtis Muhammad Conway, Jr., 3 year old. “Boxing was in my blood because of Dad, but I don’t want my kids to box,” says Laila Ali.
I enjoyed and loved those 12 years in the ring, but I am in partial agreement with parents of not wanting ones children to participate, but I would let my kids, even my daughter learn to protect themselves, if for nothing else but to avoid “bullying” in school or anywhere else, and of course to develop a healthy life style, and confidence.
Has Manny Pacquiao who is fighting Bam Bam Rios, a hard puncher, in Macao, China, on November 23,2013, fully recovered from the devastating knock out he suffered from the right hand punch by Juan Marquez in which he was unconscious for over 15 minutes? A knockout of that nature totally disconnects you from your senses. Was he subjected to a thorough brain scan? Another unanswered question.
We cannot really know if the Alvorados or Provodnikovs have fully recovered and are back to “normal” in their chosen profession of boxing where they will get punched again and again in their future fights the same way or worst, than last Saturday. One thing that I am sure of is that the “boxing beat will go on, and on, and on,” because we want it, and we love it.