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More on boxing

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As Cong. Manny Pacquiao made his speech in Congress after his latest win in boxing, I could not help but notice the audience. Their rapt attention and expression of contained emotion was most unusual. Something usually reserved for demi-gods.

Perhaps the nation’s admiration is for Pacquiao’s determination and discipline (which many of us lack) and therefore, something good to emulate. The more remarkable considering his mean background and poverty which he transcended to rise in the world stage of boxing.

Enthusiasts of boxing have a litany of why boxing is good, and why it should be promoted, but they usually downplay the dangers, or even ignore it.

The momentum of Pacman’s popularity is such that schools are hurrying to include boxing in their sports curriculum. Before they get carried away, let us consider an article which appeared in the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nov. 24) by Cynthia D. Balana which I shall quote here for the benefit of those who missed it: World boxing sensation Manny Pacquiao should consider permanently hanging up his gloves after 57 fights and eight world titles as the brain can only take so much battering, according to medical experts who treat head and brain injuries from boxing. “If he wants to reduce the risk of further brain injury, I would categorically advise him to stop because the longer he stays in that kind of competitive level, the more blows he will receive to the head and it accumulates,” said Dr. Asis Encarnacion, president of the Academy of Filipino Neurosurgeons. “It is said that the force of a punch from a professional boxer is like getting hit with a 16-pound bowling ball travelling at 32 km per hour.” Unlike football where players experience head-on collisions, the blows to the head of the boxer are usually rotational , the doctor explained at a health forum “Lethal Blows, Lethal Injuries — Boxing!” sponsored by the Philippine College of Physicians. “When the head is abruptly rotated, sometimes the veins which bridge the brain to the skull get torn. This produces what we call subdural hematoma (bleeding). In the acute phase, a boxer usually gets hit on the tangential area of the face which causes the head to actually rotate and the brain to bounce. Encarnacion said that repetitive brain jarring could also lead to a diffuse axonal injury, one of the most common and devastating types of traumatic brain injury. In this kind of brain injury, neurons lose connection with other neurons in the brain, a condition similar to a short circuit in the wiring of a computer. The possible long term effect could be chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a disease similar to Alzheimer’s. Once diagnosed, the average lifespan would be 18 years from diagnosis. Based on scientific data 80% of professional boxers have a chronic brain problem which manifests in the form of abnormal behavior, dementia or even Parkinson’s disease. Dr. Bimbo Diaz, a neuropsychiatrist from the Philippine Psychiatrists Association, said of all sports, boxing is the most destructive to the brain. He said there is a move in the American Academy of Neurology to ban the sport.

There is a growing trend to get children into boxing. I have seen some of these tykes training at the oval near the Capitol.

Think hard (if you can still think if you are a boxer) before you agree to send your children to boxing training. It is a dangerous path to tread. There are other martial arts that can instill discipline and mastery without incurring brain damage.

What I would like to see more of are courses in self defense for all ages considering the environment we are in where there is theft, murder, the Bloods and Crips, etc. Self defense should be taught in all schools.

Esther C. Windler, Bagacay

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