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23 OCTOBER 2014

 

Acute head injury in a fighter – considerations for the referee


By Drs. Flip Homansky and Margaret Goodman

There exists no more difficult position than that of the referee. Not only are you expected to always make the right call, but you are also required to know when a boxer has had enough. It is crucial to recognize you are part of a team. However, on occasion you may not know the ringside doctor, and perhaps they may even have less experience than yourself. It often ultimately becomes your responsibility to understand when a fighter might be in trouble.

Before the card begins, every referee should know where the ring doctors will be sitting and which doctor is in charge of each corner. You must also be aware of the experience level of each doctor, their specialty, and what they expect of you. If you are working away from home, especially in a different country, make sure an ambulance and paramedics are available. Both you and the doctor should be able to easily communicate as soon as the round ends. Unlike the situation of a cut, you can’t call the doctor in to look at a boxer during the round for head blows. If the doctor does visit the fighter’s corner, on your call or the doctor’s own initiative, make certain they take you aside and let you know how they think the boxer is doing before they leave the ring. If they think the fight may need to be stopped on head blows, it is important that you understand this irrespective of whom is able to stop a fight in your state. If either the referee or the doctor thinks that a fighter is taking too much punishment, there should be communication between them.

It is equally imperative for a referee to know something about the fighter on the card. How can you make an appropriate decision on how much a boxer can tolerate if you don’t know the boxer’s record. Fightfax will clarify many of these questions. We suggest you examine how many fights the boxer has had, when he last fought and against whom. Why did he lose (if he suffered a loss), how many rounds has he gone in the past, how many is he expected to go during your fight, and who is the opponent. If he recently lost, you should know if that was by decision or KO and whom he fought. The more information a referee has, the better. There are those who think they should approach the fight with a clean slate, but why? Knowledge is power.

Deciding if a fighter could be seriously injured or in danger is a judgment call. It is based on a comparison as to how the boxer looked when the fight began with how he is as the bout progresses. The following is some of the things the ring doctor assesses, and they are can also be a checklist for you, the referee, to use to determine if a boxer could be in jeopardy:

1. Carefully scrutinize the boxer as he enters the ring and look at the following:

Gait (Refers to how the individual walks. How far apart are their feet)

Balance

Speech

How readily and quickly he responds to questions

Alertness


2. Look at the boxer as he returns to his corner and between rounds:

Is he lost in the ring/unable to find his corner?

Does he appear confused?

Is he lethargic or moving more slowly?

Is he responding to questions?


3. During the round and/or after a knockdown, observe the boxer for the following:

Is he off balance?

Is he less alert?

Is he tired/fatigued?

Is he getting hit with more and more punches?

Is he less able to withstand a punch?

Do his eyes show less movement/less reactivity?

Is he listening to your instructions?

If on the canvas, look for unnatural muscle activity or shaking.

In summary, no one has a better view of the boxer than the referee. Use that close proximity to protect the fighter better than anyone else. Work as a team with the doctor. This will simplify your job as well as increase your ability to know when a fighter is in danger.

_________________________________

Dr. Flip Homansky is the current Vice-Chairman of the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC). For over twenty years, he served as Chairman of the Medical Advisory Board and Chief Ringside Physician for the NSAC.

Dr. Flip Homansky practices in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he had been a licensed ringside physician and Chairman of the Medical Advisory Board for the Nevada State Athletic Commission for over twenty years. His medical specialty is in the field of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Homansky was appointed by Nevada’s Governor, Kenny C. Guinn, in 2000, to serve as a Commissioner of the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Although he is currently Vice-Chairman of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, all of the views, opinions, and/or recommendations contained herein are solely his own and do not necessary reflect those of Nevada’s Commission. All readers are strongly cautioned that the information contained herein is not intended to, and never should, substitute for the necessity of seeking the advice of a qualified medical professional whenever a boxer or his/her representatives have specific questions regarding the best course of action that a boxer should take. Furthermore, since it is possible that general information herein may pertain only to a law, regulation, rule or acceptable standard of practice for a particular jurisdiction, a boxer or his/her representatives must always inquire with the appropriate licensing jurisdiction to determine the applicable laws, regulations, rules, and acceptable standards of practice for each jurisdiction.

All readers are advised that the information herein is intended solely as a general reference source, and to the fullest extent permitted by law, the information is provided “AS IS” without any warranties of any kind, whether express or implied, including without limitation, warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose and non-infringement. No one may rely on the accuracy, integrity, quality or completeness of the general information herein. Accordingly, neither the authors, editors nor anyone else affiliated with this website may be held liable for damages of any kind whatsoever allegedly caused or resulting from any such claimed reliance.

_________________________________

Dr. Margaret Goodman is a Ringside Physician and Chairman of the Medical Advisory Board of the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

Dr. Margaret Goodman practices in Las Vegas, Nevada, where she is a licensed ringside physician since 1994. Her medical specialty is in the field of Neurology. Dr. Goodman was appointed by Nevada’s Governor, Kenny C. Guinn, in September of 2001, to serve as Chairman of the Medical Advisory Board to the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Although she is Chairman of the Commission’s Medical Advisory Board, all of the views, opinions, and/or recommendations contained herein are solely her own and do not necessarily reflect those of Nevada’s Commission. All readers are strongly cautioned that the information contained herein is not intended to, and never should, substitute for the necessity of seeking the advice of a qualified medical professional whenever a boxer or his/her representatives have specific questions regarding the best course of action that a boxer should take. Furthermore, since it is possible that general information herein may pertain only to a law, regulation, rule or acceptable standard of practice for a particular jurisdiction, a boxer or his/her representatives must always inquire with the appropriate licensing jurisdiction to determine the applicable laws, regulations, rules, and acceptable standards of practice for each jurisdiction.

All readers are advised that the information herein is intended solely as a general reference source, and to the fullest extent permitted by law, the information is provided “AS IS” without any warranties of any kind, whether express or implied, including without limitation, warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose and non-infringement. No one may rely on the accuracy, integrity, quality or completeness of the general information herein. Accordingly, neither the authors, editors nor anyone else affiliated with this website may be held liable for damages of any kind whatsoever allegedly caused or resulting from any such claimed reliance.



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