The sport of boxing will be much safer for fighters if these 14 guidelines are instituted:
1. Age Regulations
2. Establishing Better Safety and Health Guidelines
3. Adherence to Safety Restrictions and Guidelines for Current and Upcoming Fights
4. More Rigorous Testing
5. Trainer Certification Class (PugEd)
6. The need for Boxing or Combat Gyms to be "PUG-ED" Certified
7. More Comprehensive Stats - Adding time in between fights comparative to number of times hit in head -- this could be added to the stats that a fighter has just like many televised fights record a computerized record to show how many blows a fighter received during the course of a fight.
8. Need for a Combat Sports Federal Oversight Committee
9. Abolish All Sanctioning Boxing Organizations such as the WBA, WBC, WBO and IBF.
10. Make the promoters or the casinos–not the fighters–pay the exorbitant “sanction fees” to the bogus sanctioning bodies.
11. Create a poll of boxing writers and broadcasters to generate impartial ratings11. Create a poll of boxing writers and broadcasters to generate impartial ratings.
12. Establish a pension system for boxers that includes a health plan and death benefits.
13. Organize a labor union for all boxers.
14. A special panel assembled to monitor the performance of judges.
1. Age Regulations
There is a time to lace up gloves and a time to hang them up.
This brings two groups into question:
Young children’s brains are still developing - brains are small, so injury proportionately damages a larger area. Consequently the NFL has come out and stated that children should be playing flag football. Similarly, blows directed at a child’s head should be eliminated from practice and competition and restricted to the body as a child’s health takes priority. As far as the fans are concerned, how exciting is it to watch a physically immature child hit another child - especially when we know that the long term consequences are worse than if they were to compete at physical maturity?
In terms of developing a child's full potential, would it not be better to teach children the lost art of body punching during their formative years and introduce head attacks after they reached physical maturity? It would make them more effective and therefore exciting fighters later on in their career and eliminate the effects on neurological trauma during their youth.
In any aging fighter there is a consequential loss of physical ability, muscle mass, difficulties in making weight, deteriorating reflexes associated with age (which can also be compounded by undiagnosed progressive degenerative effects) which all contribute to decreasing a fighter’s ability to defend himself against a younger fighter and thus increased risk of neurological damage in an attempt to extend both his luck and career. Therefore wouldn't fans prefer to see two young men fight who are in their prime as opposed to an aged fighter whose physical abilities have diminished with age?
Given decreased ability, the brain is subject to more trauma and thus injury.
Given the hazards: These two groups must be carefully monitored.
2. Establishing Better Safety and Health Guidelines
Many state boxing commissions do not evaluate fighters at the same standard. Texas for example has been known to grant licenses to injured and compromised fighters when other states will not. Classic example is Edwin Valero who had a spot on his brain who was refused license in every state except Texas. These infractions need to be widely publicized and pressure put on these commissions to better protect fighters.
Given that many progressive neurological disorders cannot be diagnosed by today's imaging methods, not to mention that neurological damage is irreversible - we have to exercise preventative methods. Protect the Pug is not picking on boxing or any other sport that subjects an athlete to head trauma, but simply reduce those factors that increase the risk of neurological damage just like when we developed head gear and football helmets to reduce head trauma.
If a fighter past the age of 35 is to enter competition there has to be a very good reason why given the enhanced risks. For example:
Is the fighter still a legitimately ranked champion?
Is the fighter reflecting an increase in losses in their record? Or a record that would indicate that he is taking too much punishment and not suited for the sport? For example, there are fighters who are over 35 who have accumulated records with no wins and over 100 losses. You certainly do not have this lack of talent in other professional sports such as baseball or football. Given that boxing does not tolerate mediocrity without consequence, such fighters should not be allowed to participate due to risks to their health. These fighters are called “opponents” and are on hand to be exploited by promoters who are looking to pad their upcoming proteges’ records as means to delude audiences of their skill, build fan bases, and set up lucrative fights against higher level fighters whose records are also often padded. Having two undefeated fighters with impressive records - regardless of the quality of opponents beaten sells more tickets than those same two fighters meeting with losses on their records against more difficult opposition. Unfortunately, the “opponent” suffers from the beatings he should be barred from taking.
What is the Justification of an older fighter fighting? With these realities in mind, who wants to see an old fighter whose skills have been diminished by age - basically a shell of his youth - fight? Other than the value of his fan base that buys tickets - that took years to develop what does the fighter truly contribute to what is arguably a young man’s sport? Worse what risks does he impose to himself and criticism of boxing by the medical community?
Case example: Bernard Hopkins at age 51 returned to the ring 2 years after taking a savage beating at the hands of a young Sergei Kovalev and fought 27 year old knockout artist Joe Smith. Smith knocked out Hopkins.
Blatant Greed and Ignorance: It is these kinds of practices and behavior that threaten the sport of boxing, the business of boxing, the reputation of boxing and the lives of the fighters.
Boxing is a young man’s sport. Fans want to see skill at its highest form, not an impaired deteriorated fighter take a savage beating where they longer belong.
3. Adherence to Safety Standards and Restrictions for Current and Upcoming Fights
When fighters are knocked out in competition, they are suspended for 90 days. The same practice should apply to being knocked out during training in preparation for a fight.
Just as we test fighters for anabolic steroids, fighters need to be routinely tested if they have suffered a concussion during training.
Example: In preparation for his fight with Conor McGregor, Floyd Mayweather was rumored to have been knocked out in sparring and not brought in for a routine evaluation - which if it was determined that he had a concussion, would suspend him from fighting for 90 days. Such a suspension of course would have postponed the fight and caused a great financial inconvenience. Ironically, we do random drug testing on athletes for suspected use of steroids,y et when it comes to traumatic brain injury and the risk of a man’s life we do nothing. Floyd was soon to be 41 years old, had been inactive for two years. His Uncle Roger who is only 12 years his senior 53 years old, a former two time world champion suffering from dementia. If it had been a reported that he was taking steroids, he would have likelybeen tested. Interestingly, the NAC who should have tested him for concussion, instead broke their own rules by dropping the glove weight from 10 to 8 ounces at Floyd's request. Would that have happened if a Federal Oversight Committee had been in place?
Example: Manny Pacquiao did not report shoulder injury he incurred prior to his fight with mega-fight Floyd Mayweather out of concerns that the fight would be cancelled. Pacquiao requested an anti-inflammatory injection before he entered the ring to fight Mayweather. although he was denied the injection, he was allowed to fight despite being impaired. How much? After the fight, Pacquiao required surgery, which meant that he was impaired as a fighter who was able to properly defend himself. If there was a Federal Oversight Committee in place, would Pacquiao have been allowed to fight?
4. More Rigorous Testing
Many progressive neurological disorders cannot be determined until post-mortem autopsy. Although medical science is trying to determine blood markers for such diseases as CTE, there are currently other exams that proffer insight such as PET-CT exams. Unfortunately, these exams are expensive and the medical community is in fight to get the companies who own these machines to bring the expense down. But until we start to spare no expense, conclusive answers will continue to evade us.
5. Trainer Certification Class ("Pug-Ed"TM)
As Former Two-Time World Champion Roger Mayweather and trainer to Floyd Mayweather Jr. famously remarked, "Most people don’t know sh-t about boxing” which is especially true when you consider that coaches are not required to undergo any kind of formal certification. Anyone off the street can walk into a gym and call himself a trainer, despite not having any knowledge about boxing basics, first aid, or signs of concussion.
What most athletes and coaches have not formally learned and therefore do not understand is that motor control is developed and controlled in the brain. When you destroy these centers with diseases like Parkinson’s Disease and ALS, then you destroy the very programs that an athlete develops over the years through practice that enable the athlete to perform.
It takes a minimum of 10,000 hours of hard training for a person to transform him or herself into a world class athlete. Ten thousand hours to not only develop the muscles and flexibility, but more importantly the programs of coordination in the brain that store and enable championship mastery of movement of any given sport. If these pathways are impaired, even the simplest tasks such as drinking a cup of coffee is difficult – much less being able to perform complex moves requisite at a world class level. So Yet what most athletic coaches don’t realize is that regardless of muscular strength, effort or past experience – without a healthy brain all motor related attempts are in vain, much like as it is analogous to running a computer program after the code has been removed.
So how do we fix the problem? Protect The Pug's "Pug-Ed" education program is currently assembling a team of top trainers, physiologists and neurologists to educate and certify coaches and fighters.
6. The need for Boxing or Combat Gyms to be "PUG ED"Certified
Because many fighters and coaches are not aware and/or or do not understand or care about of the dangers of head trauma - many fighters fall prey to an unsafe and abusive gym environment. A famous example, of this is was exposed when Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Showtime was sued by the Rahman family. The family said that Mayweather forced Rahman’s two sons to fight when they wanted to stop during the filming of an All Access Episode. "The doghouse -- the rules are you fight 'til whoever quits," Mayweather said in the episode. Later, a smiling Mayweather adds, "Guys fight to the death. It's not right, but it's doghouse rules." Mayweather was called in to answer to his remarks before the NAC. Mayweather stated that his comments were not true and were to only promote the fight. The commission wasquestioned Mayweather about the "doghouse" fights, accepted his testimony (which was not taken under oath) and adjourned the matter to the chagrin of many, since there were many other people in the gym, including Showtime production personnel, who were not questioned about what happened.
Whether true or not, the portrayal that was scripted and promoted in the All Access documentary does not set a good example for fighters, coaches and gyms who look up and emulate Mayweather. It is especially sadistic, given Floyd's Uncle, Roger Mayweather, a former two time world champion who is now in his mid 50's, suffers from a severe neurological disorder that both Floyd Jr. and others believe is attributed to the blows Roger took during his career.
Because of the nature and dangers in combat sports, gym owners and coaches need to undergo a proper licensing and certification process that helps to ensure all participants that there is an understanding of what is at stake and a liability for the establishment to be closed if rules are violated. bot
7. More Comprehensive Stats
Adding time in between fights comparative to number of times hit in head -- this could be added to the stats that a fighter has just like many televised fights record a computerized record to show how many blows a fighter received during the course of a fight.
8. Need for a Combat Sports Federal Oversight Committee
The problems in the business of boxing are rife. From State boxing Commissions having conflicting interests of satisfying promoters or risk losing lucrative fights to other states to judges who chronically render bad decisions which push a fighter back in the line of having to work his way back up which means taking more trauma to lax laws which do not penalize fighters who use performance enhancing drugs. In the end, it is the fighter who takes the punches and suffers irreparable damage. Boxing and other combat sports are in dire need of a Federal Oversight Committee.
Boxing Journalist Jack Newfield reports:
"Senator John McCain and former New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer have both urged the creation of a national commission as the key to any purification of the cruelest sport. They understand that only a national regulatory authority can enforce such things as standardized tests and licensing for ringside doctors, judges and referees; national suspensions after three straight knockouts; a central repository for CT scans, MRIs and blood tests for drugs, steroids and HIV."
Jack Newfiled, in his article The Shame of Boxing in The Nation, has also called for the following needed changes:
"9. End all recognition of the international sanctioning organizations–the WBA, WBC, WBO and IBF.
According to former attorney general Eliot Spitzer, “They serve no useful purpose,” Attorney General Spitzer told me. “Their only function is to sell title belts and issue false rankings.”
“All it would take to make them irrelevant is for the TV networks to announce they no longer will recognize the ratings of these groups,” Spitzer said.
10. Make the promoters or the casinos–not the fighters–pay the exorbitant “sanction fees” to the bogus sanctioning bodies.
Under the current system, champions have to pay 3 percent of their earnings to the WBC, WBA and IBF for the privilege of risking their title against a challenger approved by these worthless outfits.
When Evander Holyfield testified before the Senate in August 1992, he said that he had to pay $590,000 in sanction fees after his previous title defense. The sanctioning groups will strip a champion of his title and declare it vacant if he doesn’t pay. This is close to extortion. Over the course of his career, Holyfield has paid about $20 million of his earnings in sanction fees. Maybe that’s one reason he’s still fighting as he nears 40, well past his prime.
11. Create a poll of boxing writers and broadcasters to generate impartial ratings
This is the way it works in college football and basketball. The writers covering the games vote on the best teams. There is no reason boxing ratings can’t be compiled the same way–as long as it is a truly international poll. If a few popular champions recognized these rankings, that would be the final interment of the sanctioning bodies.
12. Establish a pension system for boxers that includes a health plan and death benefits
This could be accomplished if the fighters, promoters, cable TV networks and casinos agree to allocate just 2 percent of the revenue from all the mega-matches on pay per view to underwrite this endowment. Three such fights in one year would start a fund of $5 million or $6 million. A top accounting firm should audit and administer the fund. Any boxer who has been active for four years, or has had twenty bouts, should qualify for the system. But nobody who has taken a lot of beatings should be allowed to keep boxing just to qualify.
13. Organize a labor union, or guild, of all boxers
Paul Johnson and ex-champ José Torres have been agitating for a union for years. The best model is probably the Screenwriters Guild, since fighters are independent contractors. Traditional union solidarity and collective bargaining may not be practical among men who have to fight each other. But a union could provide a collective voice for individual rights. A union could audit pay-per-view revenues and the expenses promoters bill to fighters that often seem illegitimate or padded. A union could also demand a higher minimum payment for preliminary fighters.
14. A special panel should monitor the performance of judges
In many matches –the judges are picked by the promoters and the sanctioning bodies, not by the state commissions.
In many cases the judges are paid by the promoter, including travel expenses. They know which fighter is under an exclusive contract to that promoter. They don’t have to be told that if they favor that promoter’s employee, they will get future assignments from that promoter. Can you imagine a baseball owner picking and paying the home-plate umpire in a World Series game?
Those who are biased or engage in favoritism should lose their licenses. Judges should be required to make full financial disclosure to this licensing panel."
Final Call For Help:
Concussive blows are dangerous in any quantity, let alone the innumerable number of blows a professional contact sports athlete occurs during a multi-year career.
Unlike orthopedic sports injuries, the effects of these blows and the neurological disorders that ensue often do not show up until years after an athlete retires.
At Protect the Pug, our united voice will not only strive to protect the fighters with proper policies enforced, but also ensure that top quality fights are being brought to the fans.
1) Establish Physician & Student Medical Advisory Council in all Universities. See more here.
2) Establish Medical Internships promoting neurological holistic health. See more here.
3) Establish "Pug Ed™" - to train Contact Sports Coaches how to better protect their athletes. See more here.
4) Develop Petitions to accelerate lifesaving changes to flawed policies. See more here.
5) Form a Protect the Pug Movement monitoring the ignorance and misconduct of Coaches and Commissions through both Petition and a push for protective legislation. Coming soon.
6) Push for legislation where Boxers and MMA Athletes who use illegal PEDs to gain an unfair advantage in strength, and thus increase the likelihood of their opponent incurring head trauma, are criminally prosecuted. See more here.
7) Raise Funds For Medical Research in an effort to both minimize the occurrence of progressive neurodegenerative diseases and ultimately find a cure. Coming soon.
8) Get a Federal Oversight Committee instituted to make Professional Boxing safer and fairer. See more here.
If you are a boxing trainer you probably know how to teach a fighter how to throw a punch. How to skip rope. How many daily rounds of sparring is necessary to prepare for a championship 12 round professional fight. You may even know how to manage an eye cut with adrenaline.
But do you know when your fighter has received a concussion in training?
Do you know how to check for it?
Do you know the repercussions if ignored?
As a trainer, do you know that the brain is the center of athletic ability? Do you know which parts play a major role? Do you know that a concussion can not only deteriorate higher mental abilities such as memory and critical thinking - but also slowly and irreversibly deteriorate an athlete's ability to perform athletically - undermine everything you and your athlete have invested in time, effort and training?
Do you know that both concussive and sub-concussive blows over time time can lead to progressive and debilitating neurological disorders such as CTE, Parkinson’s Disease, ALS, and Alzheimer’s Disease? Are you familiar with the symptoms of these diseases?
Brain Damage that Occurs During an Actual Fight
Many trainers will pull a fighter out of a fight when their fighter has sustained an orthopaedic injury such as a broken bone, torn ligaments or tendons. But few have any idea of the complications when it involves brain injury. Do you know when to pull your fighter out of a fight? Understandable if you don't, because some top trainers in past high profile fights certainly did not know. Case example was the war between Gerald McClellen and Nigel Benn.
It is said that McClellan complained of headaches during the preparation for his fight with Benn. His trainers obviously did not understand the consequences - but even if the headaches drew concern - would it have made a difference given what was on the line with McClellen’s upcoming championship fight with Benn? After all they probably saw similar situations where a fighter had headaches and nothing immediately came of it. But even if McClellen did not complain of headaches before the fight, his corner invariably overlooked signs of brain injury (obsessive blinking, rubbing head, and slowed reflexes) during the fight. But so did the ringside physicians.
The outcome of this fight was tragic. No McClellen was not outclassed by Benn. To the contrary, the bout was an even back and forth war - with neither man giving an inch - the difference, however, was that McClellen was conceivably neurologically injured either both before and/or during the fight. The blows that Benn delivered culminated in McClellen collapsing on the canvas into a coma. When McClellen awoke he was permanently paralyzed.
As a coach, do you know when to throw in the towel when your fighter has taken too many blows in a fight? Do you have a checklist of the kinds of blows he has taken, a checklist of what to look for and a regard of the conceivable consequences that neurological disabilities that await him in the future?
Philadelphia is famous for producing some of the toughest fighters in the history of the sport as it is for the legendary gym wars that claim responsibility for producing them. Legends such as Olympic Gold Medalists and World Champions Joe Frazier and Meldrick Taylor are products of that environment.
As renowned as these gym wars were known for producing the game’s toughest men, they were also legend for shortening the careers of many. A classic example is the career of Meldrick Taylor.
Winner of the 1984 Olympic Gold Medal in Boxing, Taylor went on to win the Welterweight Championship of the World. Taylor was a talented fighter who did not need to slug to win fights. But Taylor came up in the Philadelphia gyms - where you earned your badge of honor by walking through your opponent in sparring as opposed to defensively out-boxing them.
Over time the gym and ring wars took their toll, culminating in a tragic end when Taylor faced Julio Cesar Sr. Many pundits observed that Taylor could have outpointed Chavez with his skills and talent to hit and move, but preferred to trade blows with Chavez to the fans delight. At the end of the 12th round, Taylor was dropped. Although he rose at the count of six with no time left on the clock, referee Richard Steele stopped the fight in what has since been a regarded as a highly controversial stoppage.
Had the bout not been stopped, Taylor would have won a split decision on the judges' score cards. But if you look at Taylor after the fight you have to ask if the fight was stopped too late. Although Taylor started showing neurological effects after that bout, he was still was able to get a license to fight. Today, Taylor suffers from dementia.
How could this be allowed to happen?
Could it be that trainers and fighters do not understand the progressive long term effects? And if so should a trainer be allowed to train a fighter without this basic understanding when he is essentially being put in charge of a fighter's life? And what about the commissions and even the doctors who play a role in granting a fighter a license? Do they not also play a role in such matters?
Brain Damage that Occurs
During Sparring at the Gym
Because many fighters and coaches are not aware and/or or do not understand or care about of the dangers of head trauma - many fighters also fall prey to an unsafe and abusive gym environment.
A famous and most recent example of this is was exposed when Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Showtime was sued by the Rahman family. The family said that Mayweather forced Rahman’s two sons to fight when they wanted to stop during the filming of an All Access Episode. "The doghouse -- the rules are you fight 'til whoever quits," Mayweather said in the episode. Later, a smiling Mayweather adds, "Guys fight to the death. It's not right, but it's doghouse rules."
Mayweather was called in to answer to his remarks before the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NAC). Mayweather stated that his comments were not true and were to only promote the fight. The NAC questioned Mayweather about the "doghouse" fights, accepted his testimony (which was not taken under oath) and adjourned the matter to the chagrin of many, since there were many other people in the gym, including Showtime production personnel, who were not questioned about what happened. Given the weakness of NAC's inquisition, combined with the fact that there is no higher court of authority than the state athletic commission and the conflict of interest a state athletic commission has with a high powered promoter like Mayweather who brings in millions of dollars is a small number of reasons why there needs to be a Federal Oversight Committee in boxing which Protect The Pug is petitioning.
Was Mayweather telling the truth before the NAC? Mayweather's mockery of the fighter who was hit hard, knocked down and had no equilibrium when he tried to get up looked very real. And if Mayweather was telling the truth to the NAC, the portrayal that was scripted and promoted in the All Access documentary does not set a good example for fighters, coaches and gyms who idolize and emulate Mayweather.
Sadism, Ignorance, and Money Rules:
Welcome to the Wild West of Combat Sports
Currently, both Boxers and MMA trainers are neither certified nor require any formal education when it comes to having an essential neurological understanding of their fighter's health. And that does not even address the same problem with uneducated coaches in other contact sports.
The Need for Basic Neurological
Education and Certification
At a minimum an MMA or boxing trainer's understanding of neurology is urgently needed given they are currently not required to have any medical education or certification, but rather only a subjective idea on what is excessive head trauma which accompanies no understanding of its consequences. Yet despite this ignorance, non-medically certified trainers have the welfare of a fighter's life in their hands and are allowed to accompany them into the ring.
The Need for Psychological Testing
Police officers are psychologically tested for their competency to serve the public. Similarly, a psychological exam for a contact sport's trainer is also necessary for several reasons: 1. To help rule out any signs or predispositions to sadistic behavior. 2. Given most trainers are ex-fighters and have been exposed to consistent head trauma, they may be psychologically compromised due to undiagnosed and progressive diseases like CTE and therefore have impaired psychological judgement.
To reduce the incidence of head trauma and corresponding progressive neurological disorders like CTE, we at Protect The Pug have designed a Pug Ed online course and exam. This online certification program is designed to teach the trainer basic neurological skills that he should know that will help him better protect his fighter both in the gym and during competition. The exam will be given by the Athletic Commission within the State that the trainer is licensed and must pass if they are to accompany their fighter into the ring or cage.
Boxing and Combat Sports' Gym Certifications:
The Educated Consumer is the safest Customer
The sadistic behaviorthat is exhibited in one of the most famous boxing gyms in the world (Mayweather Gym) in the above All Access video, is a prime reason why both boxing and combat sports gyms should also be required to have Pug Ed certification. Such certification would force gyms to enact new rules such as:
* Mandating that cameras be installed in the gym where films are subject to audit.
* Not over matching a fighter in sparring.
*Stopping a match if one fighter started taking too much punishment.
*Recording the number of blows a fighter takes in every sparring match which can then be combined with the total number of blows he also takes during a particular bout. Collectively the two sets of data can help establish a maximum limit of the number of blows a fighter is allowed to take within a certain period of time.
The establishment of record protocols can inform fighters, parents of fighters or parents who are simply looking for their child to learn self -defense, determine if the gym is certified and thus adhering to sound rules that protect athletes from abuse. The Pug Ed certification of a gym can be awarded by a governing body. The revocation of a gym's certification would require the gym to close down, just as a restaurant would be required to close if was in violation of sanitation rules. The potential for TBI must be taken just as seriously, if not more so, than the negligence that causes food poisoning.
How The Establishment of Rules and collected data behind Certification Can Aid Medical Science
Punch stats of blows to the head from both sparring and actual fights need to be collected, recorded and archived for scientific research.
Records of blows to the head that have been accumulated in both sparring and actual fights along with brain scans and neurological testing will not only help to better protect fighters, but may also help physicians and scientists gain a better understanding of how much punishment is required to both establish certain thresholds of punishment that when crossed are linked to progressive neurological diseases.
The Need For Pug Ed Education and Certification for Trainers and Gyms
Driver’s Education or Driver’s Ed was created to teach people not only how to drive, but also drive safely. Similarly, the same kinds of measures are needed for those who license, mentor and engage in contact sports.
Given developments in neurological research and the highly publicized effects of blows on players in the NFL as well as football players in high school and college - boxing and other combat sports should no longer be allowed to continue to fly under the radar of medical scrutiny and precautions. For the sake of safety, prevention, and providing medical science with important data to find a cure, coaches and gyms need to be required to become properly certified and partake in “Pug Ed” protocols.