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Eddie Goldman is the host and producer of the No Holds Barred international podcast, the publisher of the No Holds Barred blog, and a senior contributing editor at the ADCC News.

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    Tuesday, December 20, 2005

    While Mesi Mess Gets Bloody Messier, Many Commissions Conduct NO Medical Tests 

    So Joe Mesi has finally won a court case. On Monday a judge in Nevada ruled that Mesi cannot be suspended indefinitely by the Nevada State Athletic Commission because he had suffered a subdural hematoma -- bleeding on the brain -- since his one-year commission license to box had expired at the end of 2004.

    The judge, Clark County District Court Judge Douglas Herndon, was quoted as saying, "But I cannot see how the suspension can outlive the license."

    In essence this judge ruled that there can be no permanent medical suspensions for what are deemed to be permanent medical conditions.

    But he did not explain if Mesi's being prone to subdural hematomas also cannot outlive the license, or what to do if he gets another license elsewhere, fights again, and then himself does not outlive that license as a result of an even more serious brain injury.

    Two boxers died as a result of injuries suffered in the ring this year in that state of Nevada, Leavander Johnson and Martin Sanchez, while two others ended up with major brain injuries. And this judge's holiday gift to the boxing world is to loosen the medical requirements for fighting because of some "Alice in Wonderland"-like legal technicality.

    This comes on the heels of a report issued by the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) detailing just what the medical test requirements are for each of its member commissions to license fighters. The report is dated Dec. 14, 2005, and is based on responses sent back to the ABC from the various state and tribal commissions in the U.S. (A few commissions failed to send in replies.)

    According to this report, seven commissions -- Arkansas, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Santa Anna, Vermont, and West Virginia -- have NO medical test requirements for a fighter to get a license. None. Nothing. Zilch.

    In Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Oklahoma, the only medical test is one for pregnancy, which, according to reliable sources, is annually passed by 100 percent of the male applicants.

    In Louisiana and Rhode Island, the only medical test is for HIV.

    In North Carolina, the only medical tests are for pregnancy and an eye exam.

    On the list of tests was CT/MRI baseline, meaning a test or tests to observe the health of the brain. Seven commissions perform this type of test. Although they are among the biggest ones, since tribal commissions are included on this list, they are basically clustered in only four states. These commissions are Connecticut along with Mashantucket and Mohegan, both also in that state; Nevada; New Jersey; and New York and Oneida, also in that state.

    Only a sadist or a nihilist can accept this rag-tag patchwork of politically-appointed commissions being responsible for protecting the health and safety of professional boxers. But that is the prevailing mess as we prepare to close out this year, begin a new one, and mourn more fallen boxers.

    Links to this post:

    Comments:
    I wish there were some way that fighters could be given comprehensive tests without the cost of those tests financially breaking the backs of small show promoters. As callous as many boxing people are, I still have to believe that most care about the safety of the fighters. Thanks for another fine piece.
     
    Though I agree with the spirit of the piece, I'm with the judge on this one. A government body simply cannot exercise what amounts to permanent control over a person without valid legal authority, no matter how good or reasonable its intentions. Once parole is over for, say, a child molester, parole is over; the board has no jurisdiction over the pedophile no matter how likely it is he'll commit another crime.

    If the Nevada board wants to solve the problem, it should lobby the state legislature to extend the licensing period to a minimum of five or ten years.

    As it stands, though, Mesi's rights were violated, and obviously so. The judge got it right.
     
    Thanks for the comments.

    Charles, in New York the state pays for the medical tests. You have to use one of their approved facilities, but that makes it affordable both for promoters and fighters.

    Brian, a commission has to have the right to hand out indefinite medical suspensions. There are just many physical ailments which can never get better, at least by presently known medicine. If there is some loophole in the Nevada law, or it was poorly written, then it should be changed.

    Now Mesi is doing what is known as forum-shopping. He is quoted as saying that he will fight, but not in Nevada or New York, because he knows these commissions will deny him a license based on his medical history. He can look at the same chart I linked to here, pass the preggers exam, and knock out some stiffs on TV. Edwin Valero is doing this now in South America.

    This is the main type of reason we need a national commission and strong, uniform medical testing in the US. Of course, the bills to establish one sponsored both by McCain and Stearns had nothing specific in this regard.
     
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    3 Comments:

    I wish there were some way that fighters could be given comprehensive tests without the cost of those tests financially breaking the backs of small show promoters. As callous as many boxing people are, I still have to believe that most care about the safety of the fighters. Thanks for another fine piece.

    By Anonymous Charles Farrell, at 2:09 PM  

    Though I agree with the spirit of the piece, I'm with the judge on this one. A government body simply cannot exercise what amounts to permanent control over a person without valid legal authority, no matter how good or reasonable its intentions. Once parole is over for, say, a child molester, parole is over; the board has no jurisdiction over the pedophile no matter how likely it is he'll commit another crime.

    If the Nevada board wants to solve the problem, it should lobby the state legislature to extend the licensing period to a minimum of five or ten years.

    As it stands, though, Mesi's rights were violated, and obviously so. The judge got it right.

    By Blogger Brian Moore, at 3:33 PM  

    Thanks for the comments.

    Charles, in New York the state pays for the medical tests. You have to use one of their approved facilities, but that makes it affordable both for promoters and fighters.

    Brian, a commission has to have the right to hand out indefinite medical suspensions. There are just many physical ailments which can never get better, at least by presently known medicine. If there is some loophole in the Nevada law, or it was poorly written, then it should be changed.

    Now Mesi is doing what is known as forum-shopping. He is quoted as saying that he will fight, but not in Nevada or New York, because he knows these commissions will deny him a license based on his medical history. He can look at the same chart I linked to here, pass the preggers exam, and knock out some stiffs on TV. Edwin Valero is doing this now in South America.

    This is the main type of reason we need a national commission and strong, uniform medical testing in the US. Of course, the bills to establish one sponsored both by McCain and Stearns had nothing specific in this regard.

    By Blogger Eddie Goldman, at 12:26 AM  

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