Don King, on Mike Tyson

"Why would anyone expect him to come out smarter?
He went to prison, not to Princeton."

"To me, boxing is like a ballet, except there's no music
and the dancers hit each other."

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

NFL brain injury lawsuit includes 2,138 players whereas Boxing offers no redress for injured fighters

The sport of boxing has the same risks of injury by repeated concussive blows to the head that cause irreparable long-term damage to the brain.

What is the difference with boxing and football when it comes to suing for damages?  Where are the deep pockets that the lawyers can target with these charges?  Is it possible to sue Don King or Bob Arum?  There are official boxing bodies - the WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO governing many different weight classes and presiding over the alphabet soup of boxing titles.  None of which represent the kind of money in Football teams, stadiums, owners and leagues do in football....  Boxing does not have the same business structure with wealthy team owners and well financed governing bodies that are involved in football.  

Boxers operate as individuals  with their own managers and under the auspices of local promoters and governing bodies.  It would hard to bring a group of boxers together to launch any class action suit.  Lawyers not having any wealthy 'villains' to pursue would be unlikely to work on a contingency basis.  Who will pay to help participants in a sport where, aside from a few Superstars like Manny Pacquiao, the athletes earn very little money, are treated like disposable commodities, and often get abused by corrupt managers and promoters.

Even the Ivy league universities are facing law suits that could impinge on university endowments.  Boxing was abandoned long ago in the university athletic systems.  Lawyers want a return on their efforts in the form of massive contingency fees and these fees aren't available in the disjointed organizations that oversea the sport of boxing and the many jurisdictions where fights take place.

Boxers suffer the same depression and altered behaviors as football players.  Just think about the great Alexis Arguello shooting himself after enduring chronic headaches and depression or the controversial suicide of Arturo Gatti.  Both these guys had distinguished careers and epic battles.  Aguello against Aaron Pryor produced wars that left marks on both guys.

Before fighting Aaron Prior, Alexis had fought 82 times against tough competition winning and defending titles in several divisions...  Prior was "juiced" during the fight and his corner-man 'panama' Lewis was to go on to be involved in many more scandals in the sport.  Where were the regulators when it came to getting this CHEAT out of the sport.

 During the early 1980s, he was considered one of the best trainers of his time, compared with Emanuel Steward and Lou Duva. The most noted boxer in his stable was light-welterweight champion Aaron Pryor

In 1982, Pryor fought Alexis Arg├╝ello. Before the fourteenth round, a cornerman held up a plastic water bottle, but HBO cameras caught Lewis yelling, "Not that bottle, the one I mixed."  

Pryor knocked out Arguello, but Lewis' comments fueled rumors that the bottle contained stimulants

Lewis said it only contained Perrier and tap water. Although Lewis was never formally sanctioned, the incident sullied his reputation, which was confirmed by his cheating discovered in subsequent fights. 

It was later alleged in an interview with former Lewis-trained boxer Luis Resto in the HBO documentary film Assault in the Ring, that Lewis would break apart pills used to treat asthma and pour the medicine into the water, giving Resto greater lung capacity in the later rounds of a fight.


Aaron Pryor vs Alexis Arguello I - Nov 12, 1982 - Entire fight - Rounds 1 - 14

uploaded by on Dec 11, 2010

Aaron Pryor vs Alexis Arguello I
Aaron Pryor defends his WBA Light Welterweight Championship of the World against Alexis Arguello. The fight had been given alot of media attention and was considered a sure Fight of the Year winner. 

The fight didn't disappoint, but it didn't get Fight of the Year, however it got ranked #8 in the 100 Greatest Fights of all time by Ring Magazine in 1996. 

The fight also had some controversy, as 'Panama' Lewis, the trainer of Pryor requested a specific bottle of which Pryor was to drink from; 'The one that I mixed'. 

The fight ended in the next round, and no urine test was administered by the Miami Boxing Commision after the bout. Because of this, they had a rematch 10 months later.
Their records at the time
Aaron Pryor: 31-0
Alexis Arguello: 77-5
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NFL brain injury lawsuit includes 2,138 players

PHILADELPHIA — A concussion-related lawsuit bringing together scores of cases has been filed in federal court, accusing the NFL of hiding information that linked football-related head trauma to permanent brain injuries.

Lawyers for former players say more than 80 pending lawsuits are consolidated in the “master complaint” filed Thursday in Philadelphia.
Plaintiffs hope to hold the NFL responsible for the care of players suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological conditions. Other former players remain asymptomatic, but worry about the future and want medical monitoring.
The suit accuses the NFL of “mythologizing” and glorifying violence through the media, including its NFL Films division.
“The NFL, like the sport of boxing, was aware of the health risks associated with repetitive blows producing sub-concussive and concussive results and the fact that some members of the NFL player population were at significant risk of developing long-term brain damage and cognitive decline as a result,” the complaint charges.
“Despite its knowledge and controlling role in governing player conduct on and off the field, the NFL turned a blind eye to the risk and failed to warn and/or impose safety regulations governing this well-recognized health and safety problem.”


The league has denied similar accusations in the past.
“Our legal team will review today’s filing that is intended to consolidate plaintiffs’ existing claims into one “master” complaint,” the NFL said in a statement. “The NFL has long made player safety a priority and continues to do so. Any allegation that the NFL sought to mislead players has no merit. It stands in contrast to the league’s many actions to better protect players and advance the science and medical understanding of the management and treatment of concussions.”
The NFL provides a series of medical benefits to former NFL players to help them after football, including joint replacement, neurological evaluations and spine treatment programs, assisted living partnerships, long-term care insurance, prescription benefits, life insurance programs, and a Medicare supplement program.
One of the programs, the 88 Plan, named after Hall of Fame tight end John Mackey, provides funding to treat dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Players do not need to demonstrate that the condition was caused by their participation in the NFL.
Overall, the NFL, in partnership with the NFLPA, has spent more than a billion dollars on pensions, medical and disability benefits for retired players.

Individual Stories:

Mary Ann Easterling will remain a plaintiff despite the April suicide of her husband, former Atlanta Falcons safety Ray Easterling, who had been a named plaintiff in a suit filed last year.

Easterling, 62, suffered from undiagnosed dementia for many years that left him angry and volatile, his widow said.

He acted out of character, behaving oddly at family parties and making risky business decisions that eventually cost them their home. They were married 36 years and had one daughter. She believes the NFL has no idea what families go through.

Ray Easterling played for the Falcons from 1972 to 1979, helping to lead the team’s “Gritz Blitz” defense in 1977 that set the NFL record for fewest points allowed in a season.

He never earned more than $75,000 from the sport, his widow said.

After his football career, he started a financial services company, but had to abandon the career in about 1990, plagued by insomnia and depression, she said.
The list of notable former players connected to concussion lawsuits is extensive and includes the family of Dave Duerson, who shot himself last year. Ex-quarterback Jim McMahon, Duerson’s teammate on Super Bowl-winning 1985 Chicago Bears, has been a plaintiff.

Summary of Complaints:
The cases are being consolidated for pretrial issues and discovery before Senior U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody in Philadelphia.

The players accuse the NFL of negligence and intentional misconduct in its response to the headaches, dizziness and dementia that former players have reported, even after forming the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee to study the issue in 1994.

“After voluntarily assuming a duty to investigate, study, and truthfully report to the public and NFL players, including the Plaintiffs, the medical risks associated with MTBI in football, the NFL instead produced industry-funded, biased, and falsified research that falsely claimed that concussive and sub-concussive head impacts in football do not present serious, life-altering risks,” the complaint says.

The problem of concussions in the NFL has moved steadily into the litigation phase for about a year.

According to an AP review of 81 lawsuits filed through May 25, the plaintiffs include 2,138 players who say the NFL did not do enough to inform them about the dangers of head injuries. 

The total number of plaintiffs in those cases is 3,356, which includes players, spouses and other relatives or representatives.

Some of the plaintiffs are named in more than one complaint, but the AP count does not include duplicated names in the total.

“We want to see them take care of the players,” Mary Ann Easterling said.


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