Battered , Bruised And Now Dementia ………… Now What ?

Battered , Bruised And Now Dementia …….. Now What ?

By tophatal …………….

He was one of but a handful of boxers to have defeated Muhammad Ali , the former world heavyweight champion of the world . Leon Spinks did at the time what many felt was impossible but it indeed became more than probable when he defeated Ali in taking the title . Four decades later , Spinks like Ali , now suffering from irreparable brain trauma . In the case of Muhammad Ali , his debilitating issues stem from not only from blunt force head trauma but also Parkinson’s Disease and the early onset of Alzheimer’s Disease . Sadly , slowly but surely the bygone age of perhaps the richest era in boxing , specifically heavyweight boxing , is on the cusp seeing a dying breed of iconic pugilistic gladiators . Ken Norton , a former heavyweight contender is now suffering from renal problems and is a mere shadow of himself. Last year , we had the death of former Ali nemesis , Joe Frazier who fought three epic bouts with Muhammad Ali during the seventies . Who can forget perhaps their most famous bout , fought at Madison Square Gardens , New York City , New York ? For those of you old enough to remember , that fight was acknowledged as perhaps the greatest heavyweight title fight in boxing history and if nothing else best title fight of any era within the sport .


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Slide show for your perusal .

Leon Spinks and his brother Michael Spinks before the Klitschko’s were the only siblings to have held the heavyweight title , albeit , during separate time-spans . In the case of Vladmir and Vitali Klitschko , the two siblings , hold all of the recognizable titles simultaneously . But for some strange reason they refuse to fight each other , in order to create an undisputed heavyweight champion. It has now been almost a decade since we have had that unique distinction within category . The last undisputed heavyweight champion was Lennox Lewis , the now retired European fighter.

Courtesy of CBS News

Studying the brain in violent sports

By Lee Cowan , CBS News

(CBS News) There’s been a lot of concern about concussions among kids and adults who play football and other contact sports. A new study was presented recently to the American Academy of Neurology which looks at fighters. It finds three parts of the brain begin to shrink after nine years of repeated injury.

CBS News correspondent Lee Cowan reports that while the results are only preliminary, the research hints there’s a correlation between repeated blows to the head, and neurological problems, especially loss of memory.

He was one of few boxers to ever take a title away from Muhammad Ali, but 38 years after that historic bout, Leon Spinks is not the man he was.

Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic’s Lou Ruvo Brain Research Center in Las Vegas are trying to figure out how much of Spinks’ memory loss can be blamed on repeated blows to the head.

“I never did think I had brain damage,” Spinks said recently.

His wife Brenda isn’t so sure, saying that boxing has been tough on him.

Dr. Charles Bernick, the leader of the study into brain disorders said that doctors have “known for years that boxers, perhaps 20 percent to 50 percent of boxers who’ve fought professionally, will develop long-term brain complications.”


Click on link to read this article in full .


Leon Spinks is now part of a clinical trial being conducted by the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Research Center , in Las Vegas , Nevada , researching the effects of head trauma and the key element of gradual memory loss , which has become a daily part of the former champion’s life . Spinks and his wife Lynne , a constant companion at his side stated that the memory loss though not significant has caused the fighter to be more cautious in his daily rituals . The former pugilist in an interview with CBS news journalist Lee Cowen stated his neurological issues were in part brought on by his career as a boxer but he believes most notably so because of his age. I beg to differ , because it is widely known that boxing often referred to as the most barbaric of sports because the intent of the adversaries is to physically cause damage to an opponent with the use of one’s fists . And though we now have within our midst the fastest growing combative sport in the world , Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) . Boxing , under the Marquis of Queensbury Rules has evolved from the bare knuckle brawlers from that era to being cold , calculated and male machismo , into something of more disciplined spectacle . In this millennia the sport has become something of antithesis , with title holders more often than not seeking to avoid each other , rather than giving the fans what they want . From early sixties through to the mid-nineties , the sport of boxing and the heavyweight scene had been highly exciting . Today , it become one big ” comedy of errors” . East Europeans now dominate the scene and it has become a sad chain of events with the presence of no North American contender for the heavyweight title and almost nowhere to be seen . Fighters, who’ve an interest now seem to steering themselves towards MMA under the umbrella of the sport’s dominant promotion UFC , a privately owned entity overseen by its President Dana White .

White, in conjunction with Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta hit the “jackpot ” and now reign over a multi-billion dollar empire that has a global presence and with promotions as far afield as Japan , Brazil , UK , Canada , France and Germany . With a global audience of millions MMA has far outstripped the television audience for boxing and has easily surpassed the anemic audience drawn by televised NHL games .

As I alluded to earlier , fighters who may well have at one time sought to enter the world of boxing are veering towards the heavyweight scene of MMA (mixed-martial-arts) . The UFC’s reigning champion is Brazilian , Junior dos-Santos , who defeated Cain Velazquez for the title . Dos Santos remains an active but yet something of an unknown quantity but he has if anything proven to be one of the most dominant and well-rounded fighters within the division if not the UFC as a whole . Financial rewards within the sport is has been on the ascent , with some of the more prominent fighters now earning in the high six figures . A number of the UFC’s stable of mixed-martial-artists have become multi-millionaires , with Georges St Pierre , Anderson Silva , Jon Jones and Randy Couture now having become household names , drawing on fans across the globe but also with a growing throng of female followers. Endorsements now play a major part for the fighters within the genre and speaking as a martial arts practitioner , having gained a Black Belt third degree in Karate ( Ishin-Ryu and Shotokan) and teaching the art to service members whilst in the Royal Marines (British) . It is astonishing to see such a format take an explosive presence within the world of combative sports . Now while the rather infantile and orchestrated world of wrestling under the WWE umbrella , headed by the < McMahon family continues to make a mockery and assist Vince McMahon in becoming a billionaire . What we can now surmise is the very fact that while boxing purports to safe-guard its boxers . But herein lies the caveat with regard to the sport in the United States , with each state having its own state athletics’ commission , the rules governing the guidelines concerning a boxer’s health and medical records varies from state to state . With no uniform governing body at the national level it left to the state agencies to oversee the sport of boxing .

Within the world of MMA , under UFC’s own guidelines their fighters are subject to mandated to not only neurological tests but also in and out of season testing for barbiturates and opiates . Fighters who have transgressed the rules set by the governing body have been subjected to monetary fines and or a suspension . A repeat violation has resulted in fighter having his contract with the UFC terminated . What also sets this body apart from boxing and that sports’ numerous international governing bodies , is the very fact that at all major title fights under the UFC organizational umbrella , is the very fact that a medical staff consisting of medical doctor and neurosurgeon is always in attendance for all title fights. In the world of boxing it has become increasingly clear with promoters such as Don King and Bob Arum simply divvying up a pie ___ the sport has now become not what is in the best interests of the consumer and fighter but what just happens to be is in the best interests of the promoters such as King and Arum ! Neither , has ever been a true proponent of bringing in a more stringent regimen of testing for fighters in terms for neurological disorders now often being associated with the sport of boxing .

Bob Arum and Don King over the past four decades have in one form or another has corralled the sport into a situation where both over the course of their careers have each been the subject of the US Justice Department for tax evasion and grand larceny . King , no novice or stranger to the US Justice System has been sued repeatedly within the US Federal Court System by several boxers whom he has either managed or promoted over the course of his four plus decade career within the sport . The list is amongst some of the biggest names within the sport over the era in question , ranging from Larry Holmes , Evander Holyfield , Mike Tyson , Ali , Buster Douglas , Ken Norton , Thomas Hearns , “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler , Felix Trinidad and Hector Camacho Sr . Suffice to say , Don King might be the lowest life form within the sport who can be best described as an invertebrate ! Anyone care to proffer up an opinion on that premise ?

With this acute crisis now facing Leon Spinks it will be interesting to see what the future now holds for this once proud boxer who shocked the world deals with this adversity . Spinks with his wife Lynne at his side and children no doubt hoping that their father doesn’t have to suffer unbearably with this rather debilitating disease , it can only indicate to us how archaic the and completely corrupt the system has become . The WBA , WBC , IBF and WBO have simply become too self-indulgent , larcenous , without any lack of real leadership and accountability for their own good . And their respective mandates would indicate that when it comes to following the proper protocols expected , with regard to the safety of the boxers within their framework. It has to be said that each of the governing bodies in question have shown little interest if any being proactive in dealing with the issues of neurological disorders for the pugilists . In the UK , the BBBC (British Boxing Board of Control) , closely affiliated with the WBC , has one of the most stringent polices imaginable when it comes fights sanctioned within its mandate . Fighters have to undergo a battery of rigorous testing physically and neurologically before any sanctioned fight be it a title or none title bout. And the medical records of all fighters licensed under the Board of Control must be updated every six months . This is mandated, any none adherence can bring about the suspension of a fighter’s license . Unfortunately , such a mandate doesn’t appear to be followed by any of the state athletic commissions within the USA . Perhaps at some point those state agencies will come out of the “dark ages” and actually do something proactive rather than continue to be a complete damn joke !

Recently , the NFL has been turned upside down by the allegations and now subsequent proof of the gross misconduct by the coaching staff of the New Orleans Saints . This idiocy , has brought support and opposition for the perpetrators of the conduct in question. In many of the pieces I have read by contributors within this domain , at no point has any of the writers in question actually argued as to the gross misconduct or the lies perpetrated by Sean Payton , Joe Vitt , Mickey Loomis and Gregg Williams . Instead , the asinine stance has been about the actual position taken by Roger Goodell . At what point has it been about the position of the NFL commissioner when it should actually be about the misdeeds of the perpetrators in question ? Or are the vast majority of sports’ fans now so damn apathetic and without an iota of intelligence ? It was very much the same way with the misconduct of Joe Paterno and the scandal that embroiled him and tarnished his legacy at Penn State . The former head football coach , would have us believe that having followed what he believed were the proper protocols concerning the allegations of child molestation against his former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky , nothing else needed to be done. Misguided and as idiotic as Paterno just happened to be , age is no excuse for what may been on his part an error in judgment ! And this was in light of the growing allegations that even after the first such incidents were reported , Sandusky was still luring young victims for his own lascivious needs.

Those jumping to Paterno’s defense , simply overlooked the victims and that of their families . And if that wasn’t enough many of the student body of the academic establishment were vocal in their support of the octogenarian former head football coach . It was only in the aftermath of what appeared to be growing evidence as to length and depth of these misdeeds and the “cover-up” perpetrated by the administrators that many had come to realize how inexcusable their actions were . The university’s campus police was about as thorough in its investigation as could often be seen through the bumbling and comedic attempts shown in the silent single reel comedies of the Keystone Cops ! As to the state’s own conduct and specifically that of Governor Tom Corbett , well let’s just say that he too isn’t without a few skeletons in his own closet . Anyone care to remember his handling of the Hershey School ” scandal ” as the then , Attorney General for the state of Pennsylvania ?

To my mind , Roger Goodell , has no course at this juncture but to ; come down hard on the players involved in this whole scandal . The NFLPA , its Executive Committee and Board of Player Representatives now seem to be lining up all of their ducks in a ” pretty little row ” as they seek to avert any harsh and what they deem to be undue penalties against their members . . Now let me get this straight , the union is now seeking to protect its members after several of them have acted wantonly in seeking to hurt an opponent , their own union members in a number of regular and postseason games over a three year span ? What fu_king planet are these assholes now living on ? It was every man for himself , in terms of the financial rewards as a number of Saints’ players profited greatly from the practice . A number of players not only suffered concussions , but in part , it has been confirmed short-term memory loss . Is it not bad enough that the NFL hierarchy under Goodell and his predecessor Paul Tagliabue have simply ignored the evidence that has repeatedly noted the cause-and-effect head traumas and concussion like symptoms ? . These findings have come from such noted academies of educational excellence such as Stanford University , UCLA Berkley , Harvard Medical School , BUMC , Yale Medical School , American Academy of Neurology and the governmental agency the National Institute of Mental Health . What is it that the NFL seems to be so afraid of and wants to hide as it relates to this sole issue ? Not unlike the cigarette manufacturers , who as we know had something to hide as to their own malfeasance concerning their product . It would appear in the case of NFL it all comes down to greed and the protection of its $10 billion a year industry .

As this whole “Bounty-gate” scandal came to light I have always felt had one of the league’s more prominent names (players) been subject to the New Orleans Saints’ actions , then I wonder what the public outcry might well have been ! Can you imagine if Peyton Manning , Tom Brady , Eli Manning , Ben Roethlisberger , Philip Rivers and Matt Stafford were on the receiving end of these acts ? Then what ? The Saints’ actions border on being criminal and it is becoming patently clear that a number of team owners within the NFL are not entirely happy with the snail’s pace procedure of the league’s investigation. If this has been going on since 2008 and Goodell’s investigators had evidence within their possession going back as far as 2009 ………. then what the hell have they been doing during that time ?

For those of you who now feel that the game has become something of a watered down product . Then consider how serious the ramifications might well have been had they sought to simply take that ” do nothing approach” ? The game of football in the NFL has evolved , the players have become , bigger , faster and need one say actually more violent ? But no , idiots out there would rather see that continued violence and mayhem until perhaps the actual broken bones , perhaps a femur , clavicle or deviated septum , causing blurred vision to a player , wherein such an incident could be a game changer in terms of a final result a in a meaningful game ? Is that really what we want the game now to be about within the NFL ? Unless I am mistaken the games within the NFL are not being played in an amphitheater with the players are using tridents , swords and nets as part of their arsenal as a strategy ! Football I know , is meant to be an adversarial and gladiatorial in its execution but do we really now want to see the game of football become akin to an out an out fight , in terms of two gladiators battling along the lines of the events portrayed in Oscar winning movie “Gladiator ” starring Russell Crowe ? Death there (ampitheater) was honorable , there is nothing honorable in having an opponent seek to do harm with intent to a rival on the field of play on a football field but yet as_sholes are now craving that in terms of the NFL ? Wake the _uck up and show some damn common sense for once ! .


By clicking on an individual frame you can view that picture in its original formatted size.


Picture gallery for your perusal .

In light of the points raised within this piece what thoughts if any do you have concerning the subject matter ? Do leave a comment on this and anything else you believe to be pertinent .



Picture and slide show details below .


(1) Former world heavyweight champion Leon Spinks who defeated Muhammad Ali for the title in a classic bout in February 1978 but would subsequently lose in a title rematch 7 months later . Spinks now suffers from respiratory problems as well with the early onset stages of Alzheimer’s disease . He is now part of the neurological study being conducted by the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruva Research Center , in Las Vegas, Nevada. AFP / Ricky Marshall ….

(2) Leon Spinks , right meets Muhammad Ali , then champion , for the WBA & WBC heavyweight title on 15th February , 1978 at the Hilton Hotel , Las Vegas , Nevada . Spinks would dethrone Ali for the title in a split decision . Inset , is referee Davey Pearl who was the ring official for this bout . Ring Magazine/ Hearsts New Inc.

(3) From left to right , Michael Spinks , is seen here alongside Nelson Mandela , center , and Joe Frazier . The former South African head of state met with his guests at his official private residence in Pretoria . Both fighters visited the country in August 1997. AFP/ Reuters/ Jan der Voorstedt …..

(4) UFC Light heavyweight champion Jon “Bones” Jones , left is seen here with MMA analyst & commentator Joe Rogan . Also pictured is former champion Rashard Evans . The two MMA practitioners are due to meet this month when Jones defends his title in the UFC promoted event UFC 145 at the Phillips Center , in Atlanta , Georgia . Ken Thompson / The Fighter Magazine …..

(5) Muhammad Ali onstage during Muhammad Ali’s Celebrity Fight Night XIII held at JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa on March 24, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona. Getty Images North America / Charlie Gallay …..





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Author: tophatal ...........

An avid sports' fans that's all !!!!!

12 thoughts on “Battered , Bruised And Now Dementia ………… Now What ?”

  1. Very interesting arguments as always, Al.

    I’m glad you brought up the neurological testing of the more modern MMA.

    But will that even matter years down the road? Enough hits to the head are bound to take their toll.

    Professional boxing has proven that.

    And if a fighter is determined to continue his career, for whatever reasons, who is anyone to stop him?


    1. Chris Humpherys (@SportsChump)

      That’s all well and good but at least the UFC under Dana White have been far more proactive on the issue than the NFL and and NBA combined have been . At all of their (UFC) sanctioned title bouts , a first response medical team is there along with either a neurosurgeon or trauma surgeon . The UFC institutes drug and neurological testing for their fighters year-round . It’s how they monitor the well being of the fighters . That’s none done in the NFL and it never has been , because the union (NFLPA) refuses to have that being made mandatory .

      Let’s get one thing absolutely clear , in part , this is all a charade on the part of the league hierarchy led by Goodell and that of the union executive committee led by DeMaurice Smith . The $1 billion ($1,000,000,000) set aside by the league as part of the CBA (collective bargaining agreement) is a joke as the veterans have yet to see any disbursement of that money for the benefit of the retired veterans . So let’s not kid ourselves that the league cares about the players . They never have done and they never will !

      tophatal …………..


    2. Chris Humpherys

      Of course it matters as once the signs are seen through an MRI of gradual decline of the cerebellum and brain tissue then the UFC can force that fighter to walk away by rescinding his contract . In the case of boxing , here in the US there’s no uniformity whatsoever with regard to that .

      Look at the case of Holyfield , wherein for some stupid reason the athletic commissions of Nevada and New York State granted him a license . Bear in mind his fight record over the last five years has been a fu_king joke ! And you wonder why the vast majority of fight fans have become disinterested in the sport at the heavyweight level and now even more because Mayweather and Pacquiao show no real interest in facing each other ? Never mind the fact that King and Arum are like vultures hovering over the sport , simply picking at the carcass of the fighters , looking for some sort of pickings , even if it happens to be inedible .

      tophatal …………..


        1. Chris Humpherys

          You seem to forget that here in the US the sport is regulated by 50 separate bodies , namely the various state athletic commissions . And since when do they have the best interests of the boxer at heart ? Like I said with regard to Evander Holyfield and the fact that both commissions within Nevada and New York granted him a license to box , after it was found that he had swelling of his brain and was not granted a license by the state of California in 2009 . Now do you get where I’m coming from on the issue ? Whilst the likes of Arum and Don King remain the dominant forces they are within the sport and no one on the horizon to challenge their authority then boxing will remain in the doldrums and be seen as a corrupt sport .

          tophatal ………….


  2. It’s sad to see such luminaries as Leon Spinks and Muhammad Ali now stumble off into mental oblivion ! As to the state of boxing at all levels professionally , is there really any interest to be truly derived ? Pacquiao and Mayweather have about as much interest in facing each other as Newt Gingrich would have in debating Romney on issues of the economy . Not that either of the two politicians in question have a god damn clue on that specific topic to begin with ! Both are as clueless on those inherent issues as Palin is said to be domestic policy , this country’s history and international diplomatic matters !

    Anyone who truly believes that the NFL cares about the issue of player safety clearly isn’t that insightful to begin with and they’re misguided ! Simply loook at the league’s continued stance over the past decade and a half as proof of that as well as that of the union ? Former NFLPA Executive Director , the late Gene Upshaw summed it up best ………..” my care concerns only the players currently playing and note those of the past ” ! . Could he have put it anymore succinctly than that ! Karma is a bitch and that’s why Upshaw’s ass is now lying 6 feet underground , with good reason ! Good riddance to that ass-wipe (Upshaw) !

    tophatal ….


  3. I remember both Ali-Spinks fights fondly. I’m very sorry that Leon is not well. He was a great Olympian as well as professional fighter. I lost my father to dementia and Alzheimer’s and I know the toll it can take on loved ones. My prayers go out to Leon’s family and friends. Good job my friend.


    1. aero

      It’s sad that so many of the great fighters of this specific era are now disappearing before our very eyes . Leon was a great talent but in comparison to his younger sibling Michael he was something of a novice as a boxer and a fighter . That being said , this shouldn’t be the way he goes out , but with the brutality of the sport and the very fact that during that era , there was little done in truly monitoring a fighter, they couldn’t truly have foreseen the devastating damage that would be done .

      I’ve become completely disinterested and immune to in the sport of boxing , as there are no longer any meaningful bouts being fought . The heavyweight division has become a joke ! And we all now know that there’s no way in hell that Mayweather and Pacquiao will ever lay a glove on one another . Not in , or outside of a ring that is , that’s for sure ! There’s more of a chance the two having a , Brokeback Mountain ‘moment’ than the possibility of that proposed fight ever being staged . Mayweather is unwilling to split the purse and ancillary earnings 50/50 , and Manny simply wants no part of the fighter because of his odious and infantile antics . And he’s right to feel that way , given Floyd’s disrespect of the sport in general . He (Mayweather) is a piece of fecal excrement !

      If anything for me , I now get a complete “rush ” from watching an MMA bout ! It’s a far more disciplined sport and more closely monitored than any professional boxing staged in the US by no stretch of the imagination .

      tophatal ………..


  4. Boxing is a brutal sport. Muhammad Ali sufers because of too many blows to the head. Football players have the problmen once they get older. They knew this going. Look boxing is dead. MMA is the rage. I am not into it. I’m a football-futeball-basketball guy. Not my cup of tea.


    1. Bobby Gee

      The fans lust for the violence but the real issue is what has been truly done to safe guard the boxers and players ? Let’s put it this way the moment you get behind the wheel of vehicle you’re just as liable to be hit on impact by an idiot who gets behind his own vehicle but who just happens to be reckless . In the case of the NFL and boxing it’s said to be controlled violence , in terms of the impact. Well , that was until the Saints came up their scheme of wantoned violence and financial inducements for their players.

      Having competed in martial arts’ competitions karate and tae-kwondo , I can tell you this , it’s a controlled contact sport and we know that any miscue can be extremely dangerous .

      tophatal ……..


  5. Sports are barbaric. We already knew this. The problem is that the people love it and put the gladiators on a pedestal, whether it is against animals in the Roman era, or MMA now. At least now the participants know what they are getting into. I played football in college (really didn’t play enough, but that is another topic) and I would risk it. I knew what I was signing up for. You can get out with the money and fame, but straight cash is seducing. Look at Robert Smith of the Vikings as one how knew when to leave.


    1. Steve

      Robert Smith had his faculties about him at retirement (knees & concussions notwithstanding ) so much so t,hat he could have returned to college and got his degree , then interned as a pediatrician . For me it’s not about the issue but what was known and actually the preventative measures said to be taken by the NFL . And it’s clear that the league has hid behind the charade they’ve done their utmost to safe guard the players within the NFL . That clearly hasn’t been the case with football or or within the sport of boxing .

      I competed in martial arts competitions (karate & taekwondo) n as a teen and also once in the military and I can state this categorically , more was done there to make sure the competitors were safe than anything now being witnessed in boxing and the NFL .

      tophatal …


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