Regarding the Viewpoint, “Why We Haven't Banned Boxing” by Dr. Lewis P. Rowland (Dec. 5, 2006, page 5), William Kennedy and I took a resolution from the AAN Board to the AMA House of Delegates in December 1983. This became the policy of the AMA at its 1984 annual meeting, and it has been reaffirmed in five other AMA resolutions.
According to the AMA policy on the hazards of boxing (reference H-470.980 on the AMA policy finder at www.ama-assn.org): “The AMA (1) encourages the elimination of both amateur and professional boxing, a sport in which the primary objective is to inflict injury; (2) supports communicating its opposition to appropriate regulating bodies; (3) supports medical societies' efforts to work with their state legislatures to enact laws to eliminate boxing in their jurisdictions; and (4) supports efforts to educate the American public, especially children and young adults, about the dangerous effects of boxing on the health of participants.”
In addition, considerable thought and effort went into the development of the AAN practice parameter on the management of concussion in sports (Neurology 1997;48:581–585).
Boxing, with the intent to injure, is not an appropriate sport. Potential brain injury — often irreversible and sometimes fatal — occurs from repeated blows to the head. The public should be made aware of its dangerous effects. Banning boxing is society's responsibility, but it is medicine's job to define the problem of intentional injuries.
Nelson G. Richards, MD