Posted on February 23, 2010 · Posted in Brain Injury

This month I commented on my thoughts about brain injury prevention and sport. See I said this:

As I look at the cost/benefit analysis of risk versus winning in sport, I first ask myself, what is the purpose of this sport. If the purpose is to harm your opponent, such as boxing, I believe that any societal need this sport provides is strictly appealing to the blood thirst in us, and does not justify any risk. Boxing and other unarmed combat should be banned for the same reason we do not have gladiators and Christians versus the lions.

While our focus has been on brain injury in the Winter Olympics, the gladiators still try to kill each other in boxing. These predictably still succeed.

Japanese boxer Hirokazu Yamaki died at a Tokyo hospital Monday after suffering a traumatic brain injury during a match last weekend, Feb. 19, in the city, the Japan Boxing Commission said in a statement.

Yamaki, 26, suffered an acute subdural hematoma in his eighth-round knockout loss against Toshimasa Ouchi on Friday night at Korakuen Hall.

After being knocked out in the 8th round, Yamaki did not regain consciousness. He had emergency surgery at a Tokyo hospital to attempt to repair the brain damage. During the past few days doctors continued to try to treat and fix his injuries, but he died Monday morning. Yamaki made his pro boxing debut in October 2003. In the latest rankings in the Japanese flyweight division, he was No. 11, with a 7-9 record, including five knockouts.

We fans see boxing at its highest level, with great athletes like Roy Jones and Sugar Ray Leonard, dancing around the ring and later basking in the sweetness of their success. What we don’t see is the fights with 7-9 fighters, the fights with amateurs, with Golden Glove teenagers. How can we legitimately fight for the Lystedt Law and not ban all amateur fighting? The reason of course is that our kids play football and it is the poor kids who box. Yet, if the impetus for the Lystedt Law is partially the risk of the catastrophic brain injury that comes from the “second impact syndrome”, how can we not put a stop to boxing. Virtually every boxer who is knocked out, has had some previous concussive injury in the same bout. Certainly anyone with a TKO has had the double concussive blows in the same contest.

Boxing and other unarmed combat are essentially contests where eventually your opponent can no longer fight, because of the cumulative impact of a series of concussions. To call that sport is simply wrong. Why is Congress not having hearings on this?

About the Author

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447