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Association Of Ringside Physicians Releases Study

Posted on 01/21/2022

By: Sean Crose

The Association of Ringside Physicians (ARP) stated Friday that it “is proud to announce the release of a special report examining mortalities resulting from head injuries in combat sports between 2000 and 2019.” The goal of the ARP is to ultimately make combat sports safer endeavors. “There is risk inherent in combat sports,” said ARP Board President Dr. John Neidecker. “The purpose of this study is to identify fatality trends in professional boxing matches over the last twenty years and to take note of any findings that could be used to improve athlete safety in combat sports.”

Per the report: “The data showed that of the 428,904 professional boxing bouts helped between 2000 and 2019, 84 head injury-related fatalities occurred, an incidence of approximately one fatality per 5,000 bouts.” According to the ARP press release, “the report found that fatalities were more likely to occur when boxers were in lower weight classes, bouts continued into later rounds, or a fighter lost via knockout or technical knockout (KO/TKO). Of these factors, loss via KO/TKO showed the highest correlation with fatality, with 76% of the fatalities studied showing association with a KO/TKO.”

Neidecker stated that “one clear finding from this report is that swift action must be taken by the medical team after a KO/TKO to evaluate and ensure the safety of the athlete.” Neidecker also claimed that “continuing to evaluate these trends over time will show an increasingly clear picture of risk factors and trends associated with head injury-related fatalities in combat sports events.”

The study arguably began as a reaction to the recent deaths of two boxers. “In 2019,” the ARP writes, “two fighters, Maxim Dadshev and Hugh Alfredo Santillan, died within the space of a week from head injuries sustained during professional boxing matches. These tragedies led some authorities to call for a ban on combat sports. While past studies have examined the prevalence of chronic traumatic brain injury in career combat sports athletes, few studies to date have specifically examined fatalities resulting from head injuries sustained during competition. Understanding and minimizing risk to fighters requires a thorough accounting of this data as well.”

The ARP describes itself as: “a membership-driven nonprofit organization that protects athletes worldwide by advocating for best practices in combat sports safety and by providing ongoing medical education to the broader boxing and mixed martial arts communities. Members include physicians, allied healthcare professionals, students, members of governmental commissions, sanctioning bodies, promoters, trainers, and others involved in providing for the health, safety, and welfare of those participating in both amateur and professional combat sports.”

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