WBA Medical Seminar at Antioquia University

Report/Photos: Boxing Bob Newman

The WBA medical seminar took place during the 96th annual convention at Medellin’s Antioquia University this morning. As part of WBA president Gilberto Jesus Mendoza’s initiative to move convention events out into the community, especially in an educational aspect, this seminar was a welcome change.

No less than eight esteemed physicians spoke on a variety of topics, all with a link to boxing and it’s improvement for the safety of the fighters.

Dr. Nicholas Rizzo spoke both about VADA (Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency) and then Drug Testing and Specimen Collection in Combat Sports. Dr. Rizzo was quick to distinguish between VADA and WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency), while explaining that VADA adheres to WADA standards. It was interesting to learn that while over 600 sports organizations including the IOC, international sports federations, national anti-doping organizations and the Paralympic committee, have all adopted WADA’s World Anti-Doping Code, North American sports such as the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL have not signed on! Dr. Rizzo expressed that WADA needs to address Cannabinoids (Marijuana in short). “Are they performance enhancing or performance disinhibiting by way of reducing performance anxiety?” Dr. Rizzo agrees that uniformity is the key to clean competition in combat sports, all sports in fact. For example, there needs to be agreement on the list of banned substances.

Dr. Larry Lovelace, Association of Ring Physicians president, discussed “10 Facial Lacerations That Should Stop a Fight.” Dr. Lovelace developed a diagram citing crucial areas on the face and head, if lacerated, should force a stoppage based on severity.

Dr. Natalia Ceballos Feria of Antioquia University discussed “The Importance of Electrolytic Hydration During Fighting.” Time frames for safely rehydrating, improper weight loss techniques involving dehydration and the use of sodium and other electrolytes were presented.

Dr. Joseph Estwanik discussed the mouthpiece in boxing- its function, importance and lack of regulation regarding quality and inspection. Dr. Estwanik conducted a survey of both the WBA and the ABC (Association of Boxing Commissions) of two questions:

1. Rate the importance of safety equipment (gloves, hand wraps, protective cup, shoes and mouthpiece)

2. Who should be most responsible for evaluating the mouthpiece (coach, commission, promoter, doctor, referee, sanctioning body, inspector).

In the importance question, shoe and cup were deemed less important than the gloves, hand wraps and mouthpiece, all three of which were statistically even.

The responsibility questions yielded a relative tie between coach, doctor, inspector or referee.

Still, there is no consensus and worse yet, no enforcement on quality, proper use and fit, etc.

Dr. Nelson Rodriguez of Antioquia University gave a talk entitled “Body Composition of the Professional Boxer.” Rodriguez explained various techniques to ultimately determine a fighter’s optimal weight class based on BMI (body Mass Index) body type, proper weight loss methods, etc.

Dr. Barry Jordan discussed “Traumatic Brain Injury in Boxing.” Dr. Jordan discussed signs and symptoms of both ATBI (Acute Traumatic Brain Injury) and CTBI (Chronic Traumatic Brain Injury). Dr. Jordan linked the injuries suffered by NFL players and boxing as having basically the same causes and/or etiologies.

Dr. Saul Saucedo lectured on “Current Foundations of the Fight Against Doping.” Dr. Saucedo illustrated methods of testing, tamper proofing said testing and overall education of those involved in any sport, who may be considering doping end illegal performance enhancement.

Dr. Zaira Basto of Antioquia University discussed the “Low Energy Syndrome” and its contribution to the “Female Athlete Triad.” The triad consists of energy deficiency with or without disordered eating, abnormal menstrual cycle and osteoporosis. Dr. Basto exemplified that disordered eating can be caused by stress, depression and personality.

WBA president Gilberto Mendoza did attend portions of the lengthy seminar and praised both the number and variety of topics as both educational and necessary to continue improving boxing and the lives of those involved in the sport.

A spirited Q&A session ensued, with a common theme from the assembly- how to enforce and regulate the many aspects of the sport, several discussed today, which are in disarray. Part of the problem seems to be that there is no central responsible party and at the same time, often too many entities who want to be the sole enforcers, those entities most often not in agreement.

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