TIME and time again, I have broken up my romance with pro boxing following the dictate of my conscience.
The latest incidents of boxing brutalities here happened recently like the cases of boxers Karlo Maquinto, Z Gorres, and Romic Dablo.
Maquinto died after a fight last February. A few years before, Z Gorres went comatose after a bantamweight clash in Las Vegas. Just last week, Romic Dablo went into a coma and died after the third round of his fight in Zambales.
Last January 22, 2006, the office of former senator Freddie Webb called me and asked for my fearless forecast on the Manny Pacquiao and Erik Morales fight in Las Vegas.
In reply, I told Dingdong Marco, executive producer of Webb’s Saturday radio program over dzMM, that I might not be the right person to make an honest analysis of the fight since I had sort of walked away from the sport some years back because of what was happening to it. My decision was based on moral and medical grounds, I told Marco, adding that I was simply following my conscience. I felt the boxers were being exploited and I wanted no part of it.
On moral grounds, I told Marco that I’ve had enough of sleazy and judicious promoters, frequent mismatches, put-on boxers, falsified records and rigged ratings. However, I made it very clear to him that I have no problem with sportswriters (and boxing apologists) who cover the fights for TV and their newspapers. After all, the bottom line is that pro boxing is legal in this country and in most parts of the world, except in Sweden and Norway which have abolished it.
On medical grounds, I have already written many times about the jeopardy inherent in pro boxing, citing its abuses and lack of safety measures that could leave the boxers permanently brain-damaged, disabled, or dead; the growing hostility of medical community, including renowned members of the American Medical Association and the British Medical Association; and the increasing call to ban professional boxing around the world.
Medical evidence against pro boxing is overwhelming in the Philippines. Close to 20 boxers, since 1979, have died while many more, including those unreported to the Games and Amusements Board, have suffered brain injuries.
James Tyler, brain specialist and director general of British Safety Council said that “the brain is like a blancmange, a gelatin-like rubbery pudding. Every time a blow (to the head) is struck, the brain cracks against the inside of the hard skull, and it has the effect of numbing the brain or causing permanent brain damage.”
Boxers don’t have to die to accentuate the violence and cruelty of the sport. One only has to look at the list of those who have been incapacitated for life or reduced to stuttering derelicts like the legendary heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, a victim of Parkinson’s syndrome.
“I was struck that this man (Ali), who previously was known for his glibness, was almost unintelligible,” once said Dr. Nelson Richards, president of the American Academy of Neurology.
Modesty aside, I was in the company of the late GAB chair Justiniano Montano Jr. and Rudy Salud when Jun campaigned and won to become the first Filipino and Asian president of the World Boxing Council.
I learned the ropes from higher boxing personalities which included some of the best like Hall of Famer Gabriel “Flash” Elorde and his father-in-law, Lope Sarreal Sr., who brought me to the boxing capitals of the world including Japan, South Korea, Thailand, among others. I acted, several times, as judge in international championship bouts.