CMA wants to ban boxing

If the Canadian Medical Association had it's way there would be no boxing in Canada -- not amateur or professional.

For proof, the CMA points to IBF featherweight champion Paul Ingle, left battling for his life in a drug-induced coma in hospital following surgery to remove a blood clot from his brain after a bout Saturday in Sheffield, England.

"In contrast with other sports the basic intent of a boxer is to harm his opponent, rendering him incapacitated, injured or defenceless," CMA president Dr. Peter Barrett said Tuesday from Saskatoon.

"We know boxing can result in chronic brain injury and death."

The association's stance angers proponents of the sport, such as Russ Anber, an amateur coach and CBC boxing analyst.

"That part pisses me off the most," snapped Anber. "If you're going to call for a ban on that, then lets call for a ban for everything that's dangerous, all the extreme sports, motor car racing, all that kind of stuff."

Spokesman for the Canadian Professional Boxing Federation didn't immediately return calls.

Ingle, 28, was knocked out after 20 seconds of the 12th and final round of the International Boxing Federation title bout against South African Mbulelo Botile.

The Englishman also was floored late in the 11th round by three vicious left hands.

His trainer later admitted it was a mistake to let Ingle fight the 12th.

The World Medical Association used Ingle's injury to reiterate its demand for a boxing ban.

"It is impossible to participate in boxing without being hurt," Delon Human, the association's secretary-general, said in a statement released in Geneva.

"It cannot fairly be described as a sport. It is simply a barbaric practice."

Barrett said the CMA has been calling on boxing's ban in Canada since 1986.

The matter rose again at the association's latest board meeting.

"It's just not the immediate injury, or the immediate death, it is the chronic brain injury," Barrett said.

Willie de Wit, an Olympic heavyweight silver medallist in 1984 who also fought professionally, said the recent number of concussions suffered in hockey and football hasn't resulted calls for those sports to be banned.

"When you go into boxing, you know it's a dangerous sport," said de Wit, now a lawyer in Calgary.

"I have some problem with people who want to ban things that aren't part of their sport. They're not getting their livelihood from it."

De Wit said there's a responsibility on fighters, and those around them, to protect themselves.

"You have to take your own precautions while fighting and if you're getting hit too much, maybe it's time to find another profession."

Anber agreed, saying the fighters most likely to get hurt are those who don't know when to quit.

"It always seems to me the guys who get hurt are the courageous guys who take a beating and come back and win," he said. "That makes it very pleasing for the crowd but certainly not very healthy and certainly a danger to themselves."

Anber called for the establishment of one set of rules to govern the sport across the country.

As it stands now, a boxer who fails a medical test in one province, could pass the test in another province.

"I think it's absolutely inane we do not have a uniform set of rules that apply from coast to coast," he said. "That's stupid."

It's believed the last boxing fatality in Canada occurred June 20, 1980, when Gaetan Hart floored Cleveland Denny, inflicting a massive brain injury that led to Denny's death 17 days later.

A month earlier, Hart put Ralph Racine into a comma with a knockout, leaving the Niagara Falls, Ont., fighter with permanent memory loss and speech impairment.

Anber said nobody denies boxing can be dangerous.

So is car racing, he argues.

"It's also not humanly sane to drive 200 miles per hour, I don't care who you are."

By Jim Morris