“The Better Boxing Bureau where fighters, parents of fighters, coaches, physicians, medical students, athletic commissions, fans, (from all over the world) can come together to make boxing both a safer and more exciting sport.”
So what does it take to become a World Class Pugilist? Is it brawn or brain? What is more paramount in athletic ability?
Research has shown that 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 not only develop muscles and flexibility, but more importantly it creates new neural pathways in the brain that enable championship-level movement.
Unfortunately for fighters, gaining this expertise comes at a price.
This is because a boxer is not only exposed to head blows during a fight, but also in the many months of preparation for the fight. Over time, this adds up to hundreds, even thousands, of blows to the head.
It’s widely known that boxing is linked to irreversible and progressive brain damage. But within the past decade, medical studies have proven that repeated blows to the head don’t just destroy brain cells and reduce IQ and memory, but it also destroys that part of the brain responsible for coordination, reflexes and athletic performance - ironically, the very tools a boxer needs to become a world class fighter!
This brain damage and its various symptoms are classified under different names such as ALS, Parkinsons, Alzheimers, and Pugilistica Dementia - more commonly known as CTE.
Besides destroying athletic ability these disorders also cause: Depression, Suicidal thoughts, and even psychotic or homicidal behavior.
For example, professional wrestler Chris Benoit who received numerous blows throughout his career, was diagnosed with depression shortly before he went on to murder his wife and and son a few years later. Upon autopsy, Chris’ brain was diagnosed with CTE.
Four years after competing in the Superbowl, NFL star Junior Seau committed suicide in 2012.
1987 NFL Man of the Year Award winner, Dave Duerson, committed suicide in early 2011.
Mike Webster who was profiled in the movie Concussion, Justin Strzelczyk, and Terry Long, all of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Andre Waters of the Philadelphia Eagles, Chris Henry of the Cincinnati Bengals, John Grimsley of the Houston Oilers, and Tom McHale of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, all died after years of bizarre, unpredictable, and aggressive behavior.
Ryan Freel was the first major league baseball player to be diagnosed with CTE. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in December 2012.
Owen Thomas, a 21-year-old football player at the Ivy League University of Pennsylvania committed suicide by hanging himself. He was subsequently diagnosed with CTE.
And now Former Patriots’ football player Aaron Hernandez, who was convicted of murder and then subsequently hung himself while serving time in prison, has been diagnosed upon autopsy with having severe CTE.
With more than a million teenagers competing in just football every year not to mention other contact sports like boxing, it is clear that the risk of CTE poses a potential public health disaster.
So how do blows to the head cause ominous brain diseases such as CTE? Researchers discovered something called Tau protein in autopsied brains of athletes who were exposed to head trauma. Tau is a destructive substance that the brain produces after suffering impact damage. Over time, Tau slowly and imperceptibly ravages the brain, and has been conclusively linked to Alzheimer’s, CTE, and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Dr. Ann McKee, chief of neuropathology at the VA Boston Healthcare System and director of the CTE Center at Boston University, and her research team examined the brains of 111 N.F.L. football players — of which 110 were found to have C.T.E -- that’s 99%… even the high school players’ brains they examined had mild cases of CTE. And that’s just ONE of many neurodegenerative diseases linked to repeated blows to the head. And if you are a contact sports athlete watching this and think you are immune - that it won’t happen to you - rather than give you an endless list of world boxing champions who fell victim to one of the many neurological disorders linked to blows from boxing like CTE - let us tell you about…
The Last Fighter You Would Ever Expect To Suffer A Neurological Disorder: Muhammad Ali.
Muhammad Ali was arguably the greatest boxer to ever grace the prize fighting ring. What separated Ali from his opposition was not simply his speed and reflexes, but rather his incomparable ability to avoid getting hit – which made Ali both seemingly impenetrable and invincible. As Ali would poetically joke, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, your hands can’t hit what your eyes can’t see.” Ali was to boxing what Einstein was to physics- that kind of talent is simply innate. Unfortunately, even for boxing’s greatest talent, blows to the head were inevitable. The cumulative trauma that Ali absorbed from years of sparring and fighting - progressively destroyed that part of his brain responsible for movement. When this happened, all of Ali’s skills honed from years of training were essentially erased.
Clearly, having a healthy brain is critical to world class athletic performance.
Many high profile sports such as football are now gaining recognition of the dangers of brain trauma and are making significant changes to protect its athletes. Yet boxing remains unregulated, and our fighters remain largely unprotected.
These progressive neurological diseases as a result of both concussive and sub-concussive blows are an “inconvenient truth” that we can no longer ignore.
We need to come together and support safer and more comprehensive preventative health regulations in boxing. This is why we have created “Protect The Pug” (Pug being short for the word “Pugilist”) an independent watchdog organization where fighters, coaches, physicians, medical students, athletic commissions, fans, (from all over the world) can come together to make boxing both a safer and even more exciting sport.
We have outlined comprehensive guidelines on how to make boxing both a safer and even more exciting sport. Our suggested guidelines which are designed to better protect fighters at all age levels are outlined on our site for your review. We need your help to protect our fighters.
Protect The Pug: Not Just for Doctors And Scientists! We are all in this together! And we cannot do without you!
To find a cure, we must all contribute our strengths from whatever background we come from: whether you are a contact sport’s athlete, a coach, a concerned parent, a medical student who is preparing to take over the work from where today’s physicians and scientists leave off, or the law student who will go on to represent combat sports athletes who have been negligently injured, or the student who will go into politics and effect changes in law and policy, or the person who will go on to become a sports agent, manager, or promoter, or the engineer who will innovate the next revolutionary line of combat sports equipment to shield athletes from concussive and sub-concussive blows - there are endless opportunities to bring your unique talents - your voice - your mark in Research, Petitions, Policy Changes, Innovations, Solutions, and Ultimately Cure to these horrible progressive diseases!
Protect The Pug: Research! Petitions! Policy Changes! Innovations! Solutions! Cure!
Become part of Medical History: Explore ProtectThePug.com to see how you can contribute your talents by getting involved and making your mark in helping to find a cure, which you can start right now by simply sharing this important message on Social Media!
Like the ALS Bucket Challenge, we need this call for help to go viral throughout our communities. So please share now!