May 25, 1984

Morphological Changes in Brains of Boxers

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pathology, University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine, La Jolla (Dr Lampert); and the Department of Pathology, John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu (Dr Hardman).

JAMA. 1984;251(20):2676-2679. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03340440034023

THE COUNCIL of the American Medical Association recently issued a report on brain damage in boxers.1 Better medical supervision and stricter regulations to control this dangerous sport were recommended. Similar calls for actions are usually heard whenever the news media get excited about a fatal knockout in the ring. We agree with the Council's recommendations but question the logic of proposing regulations aimed at preventing injury when the purpose of boxing is to inflict injury. The public enjoys paying for the spectacle, and for this reason boxers will continue battering each other with damaging force.

Professional boxers are capable of delivering blows with forces that may exceed 100 gravity.2 Such blows applied to the movable head cause the soft brain to glide and swirl within the skull, tearing vessels and nerve fibers. A variety of factors—notably the direction, intensity, velocity, and number of blows—determine the location, type, and