Boxer ends up with severe brain injury after 312 punches to his head

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Magomed “Mago”Abdusalamov, a former heavyweight boxer, traded punches with Mike Perez at Madison Square Garden in November of 2013. This fight, Mago’s 19th, was his last professional bout. Mago had looked towards this fight as an opportunity to face Wladimir Klitschko, the heavy weight champion, which if he won would be life changing. Instead, the 10-round fight against Perez turned out to be life changing with Mago sustaining a severe brain injury in the 10-round bout. The early signs of the injury may have been missed by ring officials as early as the first round when Mago reported to his trainer and handlers that he thought his left check bone was broken. The principle of “one punch too early is better than one punch too late” failed in this fight. By the seventh, eighth and ninth rounds Mago has sustained fractures to his hand and orbital bone. His wife watched the bout from the family’s apartment in Miami. She knew that something was off. The ring officials allowed the fight to continue.

In the dressing room  after the fight Mago was examined by two physicians, Gerard Varlotta, a sports medicine specialist and Anthony Curreri, an opthamologist. Mago kept repeating that his face hurts and his trainer, John David Jackson, insisted that his fighter go the hospital. Madison Square Garden keeps two ambulances on hand for this purpose. Farrago, a former boxer and now boxing inspector, also was part of the post-fight evaluation team. Farrago urged Mago’s trainer to get him to a hospital. Other than a note by Varlotta on the post-fight examination report and Farrago’s recommendation to the trainer that the fighter should get to a hospital there was limited urgency expressed. Outside of Madison Square Garden while trying to hail a taxi, Mago collapsed and was taken to St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital where his brain bleed was identified and life saving surgery took place.

Now, two years after the bout, Mago resides with his wife and children in Greenwich, Connecticut. He is totally dependent on her for daily care and is bedridden. The fight paid Mago $40,000 for 40 minutes in the ring with Perez. He endured 312 punches to his head at $128.21 per punch. His medical bills are over $2 million and the family has brought a lawsuit against the athletic  commission, the doctors and even Farrago. But, no  matter what they recover in financial damages Mago lives with a severe brain injury which has totally disabled him.

Can we make boxing safer for the athletes?

Click here to read the original New York Times 2013 story and here to read the 2015 follow-up.

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