In Light Of The Fabrice Muamba Incident, All Sports, Including Boxing, Should Be More Prepared.
Photos and Report by Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro
Just over two weeks ago Bolton Wanderers midfielder Fabrice Muamba suffered a Sudden Cardiac Arrest and collapsed during his team’s FA Cup tie with Tottenham Hotspurs, at White Hart Lane. No surprise this tragic incident grabbed the headlines around the world and has continued to do so on a daily basis.
The match was rightly abandoned, as both teams’ doctors spent around ten minutes treating the 23 year old on the pitch in front of around 35,000 stunned fans and millions of viewers around the World.
Those watching the drama unfold were left in no doubt that Fabrice was fighting for his life, as one of the doctors was quick to connect up a defibrillator. It is this single action that could well be the reason why Fabrice survived long enough to receive life saving treatment in hospital.
European Society of Cardiology spokesperson, Professor Mats Borjesson of Sahlgrenska University in Gothenburg recently stated,. “It is well known that rapid access to the right treatment facilities can improve Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) survival rates from 5% to well over 60%.’”
SCA is a condition in which normal blood circulation abruptly stops and usually leads to death in 95% of cases unless the patient is treated within five minutes or so by trained medical staff using a defibrillator.
These days defibrillators are being installed in many major sporting stadiums around the world, mainly due to the efforts of the ESC, however this wasn’t the case when Cameroon’s Marc Vivien-Foe, 28, a premier league player firstly with West Ham and then Manchester City, collapsed and died during a Confederations Cup match against Colombia in Lyon, France in 2003.
Football is not the only sport that has had a tragedy of this type, according to the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, USA, in excess of a hundred thousand young athletes, from a wide variety of sporting disciplines, die each year from cardiovascular disorders as a result of participation in sports.
Boxing is no exception, in 2003 American boxer Brad Rone, who fought such luminaries as Cedric Boswell, Vaughn Bean, Kirk Johnson, Michael Grant, Hasim Rahman, Obed Sullivan, Fres Oquendo, Kelvin Davis amongst others, collapsed and died in the ring in Cedar City, Utah, during his bout with Billy Zumbrun.
Brad was hit by a Billy Zumbrun jab just before the bell rang to end the first round. He turned around to walk to his corner when he collapsed and died. A ringside doctor tried to revive him using cardiopulmonary resuscitation, but his efforts were in vain. An autopsy later revealed Rone had died of a heart attack.
It’s not just at events that these tragedies happen, they also happen in the gym, one such incident, a stroke rather than cardiac arrest, occurred in December 2009, when former heavyweight boxer Harry Senior was working as the sparring partner for Albert Sosnowski. On the third day of sparring Harry had a stroke, the coaches rushed to his aid but were unable to assist, due to the severity of the stroke, and called the emergency services.
I’m pleased to say that Harry is as tough as they come and like Fabrice survived and is slowly but surely making a steady recovery.
Reacting to Harry’s plight BBBofC Southern Area Chairman Mick Collier not only instigated the ‘Harry Fund’ and appealed to the boxing community for their support, but also lobbied boxing gym’s within the region to ensure adequate first aid equipment being to hand.
Speaking earlier Mick said, “Fabrice’s plight has really bought home the fact that heart attacks and strokes can affect fit people, including professional sportsmen.
It also highlights the importance of having the right equipment available for any circumstance.
The BBBofC have strict rules in place for fights, the medical teams are fully equipped for any situation. If Fabrice had been a boxer and this happened in the ring, I am certain that the level and speed of assistance he received would have been exactly the same.
We’ve been relatively lucky, these incidents are rare in boxing but not unique. A few years ago Harry Senior had a major stroke when he was sparring.
I don’t doubt that in Harry’s case that a defibrillator would have made that much difference but it would if someone had a cardiac arrest when they are in the gym. For that reason alone I would urge all boxing gym’s to have one on-site as well as have all their staff trained to use them.”
The TRAD TKO Boxing Gym, in Canning Town, London, is one of the few boxing gym’s in the country that preempted the possible mandatory requirement for defibrillators to be installed.
With some forty plus pros, including stars such as WBO Intercontinental Lightweight Champion Kevin Mitchell, British Light Welterweight Champion Colin Lynes, former British Cruiserweight Champion Leon Williams as well as Southern Area Champions Ben Murphy and Billy Joe Saunders, being based at the old school East End fight factory, the TRAD TKO is still not exactly the type of place that you would think would be pioneering such technology.
TRAD TKO boss Johnny Eames though explained why they were the first to install the life saving equipment late last year.
“They save lives, simple as that.
I don’t know if I could live with myself if one of members or fighters had a heart attack here at the gym and we weren’t able to help them.
The key staff have been trained by the Red Cross on using the defibrillator, as well as CPR. But to be on the safe side the defibrillator we have is idiot proof, it talks you through through what steps to take, so can be used by an untrained person if needed.
We all like to think it will never happen to us, but what happened at Tottenham the other week shows that it could happen to anyone, even a professional sportsman and for that reason alone it makes sense to have equipment like this on-site.”
The defibrillator that was installed at the TRAD TKO Boxing Gym is supplied, fitted and maintained by BST (Butler Safe Technologies) and it is their state of art DOC system, which is the world’s first fully connected and operational defibrillator.
Having personally been trained on using the DOC system myself I can verify that as Johnny says it’s ‘idiot proof’, as throughout the operation there is calming voice talking you through every stage, not a recording but an actual person you can have a two way conversation with.
Basically in the event of an emergency, once the DOC unit is removed from it’s case a GPRS signal is sent directly to Mondial Assistance which allows the co ordinates to be sent directly to the emergency services, at the same time the emergency coordinator at Mondial Assistance makes contact through the two way speaker system on the DOC device to assist the user.
Another major safety feature is that once the defibrillator is attached to the
patient a full ECG (electro cardio gram) is carried out, which determines whether that person is in fact suffering from an arrest. This takes away any judgment needed by the user.
BST’s Sebastian Mann is clearly proud of his companies product, saying, “Johnny has it so right, it saves lives, which is the most important factor.
Over a hundred and twenty six thousand people suffer a heart attack every year in the UK, this is the equivalent to one every five minutes.
The biggest problem is that only 5% of cardiac or heart attacks victims actually survive outside of a hospital, unless they get adequate medical assistance quickly, really quickly.
Once the attack has occurred you only have between three and five minutes to take action, every minute after that represents a 10% less chance of survival.
With Emergency Services response time target in London, for a Cardiac Arrest and other Category A (immediately life-threatening) calls, being within eight minutes you can see that having a defibrillator onsite will significantly increase the chances of saving someone’s life if they have a cardiac or heart attack in the gym.”
Those statistics make for scary reading, at the same time making it clear that essential life saving equipment such as defibrillators should be installed within all sporting facilities, not just for the sake of the sportsmen and women but also the general public that train in gyms or attend sporting events.
Far sighted facilities, such as the TRAD TKO gym, have already realised the
importance of having them on the premises, hopefully more will respond in the same manner to ensure that essential life saving equipment in on hand for the sake of their athletes and clientele.
Any gym or organisation interested in the installation of the BST, DOC defibrillator should contact Sebastian Mann on 07984 548068
Big Fight Preview – Katsidis-Burns, Groves-Smith, Boulden-Saunders
By Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro
I’m sure promoter Frank Warren must have been chanting ‘Remember, Remember the Fifth of November’ as he was planning his upcoming triple Championship headed ‘Gladiators’ show, which will take place at Wembley Arena on Guy Fawkes Night and shown live on BoxNation (Sky platform 456).
The pugilistic pyrotechnics on display will culminate in an explosive finale as former WBO Super Featherweight World Champion Ricky Burns and the Brit Bashing Aussie Michael Katsidis lock horns for the interim WBO Lightweight World title.
Katsidis is no stranger to battling it out on British shores, having stopped both Graham Earl and Kevin Mitchell in spectacular fashion, so will feel quite at home when he faces Coatbridge’s former Super Featherweight supremo Ricky Burns.
It bodes well that Burns has been stating that he feels stronger, since vacating the WBO title and moving up to the Lightweight division, as his good pal Kevin Mitchell can attest Katsidis is one seriously tough cookie.
Since beating our Kev, Katsidis has been in three seriously tough fights, the first against World #1 Juan Manuel Marquez, who he sent to the canvas prior to being stopped himself, then he took World #2 ranked Robert Guerrero the full distance. In his last fight Katsidis came back, from those two back to back losses, to KO Mexico’s Michael Lozada.
Burns on the other hand is unbeaten since 2007 and defended his World Crown three times, since beating Roman Martinez to lift the coveted title in September 2010.
It’s going to be a great fight but unfortunately I have to say that I think Katsidis, who’s a big Lightweight, is the stronger of the two and has to be the bookies favourite to win the triple crown by adding Burns to his list of British victims.
Heading up the explosive undercard sees George Groves defend his British and Commonwealth Super Middleweight titles against former British Champ Paul Smith.
Groves is riding high after his magnificent victory over James DeGale, but can’t afford to be too complacent against former champ Smith.
Yes I know, Smith lost his crown to DeGale and Groves then went and took it from DeGale, but believe me this is no easy fight for Groves.
Smith is not going to make the same mistakes, tactically, as he did against DeGale and as such is likely to revert to his normal style and bring the fight to Groves.
Both Groves and Smith fought different fights to how expected when they faced DeGale so any comparisons to those fights is right out of the window. I feel that this fight we’re likely to see them playing their normal game and as such are likely to see Smith coming forward with Groves boxing of the back foot for the first three or four rounds, then the more it goes on the real fireworks are likely to start as they go head to head.
The third championship bout on the card sees undefeated Middleweight sensation Billy Joe Saunders challenge Gary Boulden for his BBBofC Southern Area belt.
Saunders, a former Olympian, is without doubt one of the most exciting young fighters around today and to be honest I can see this fight, against the defending Champion, ending very much the same way as his past four bouts.
Boulden is a great Southern Area level Champion, but BJ is way above regional level or come to that domestic level. In his last four fights he barely broke into a sweat before dispatching his opponents, all in under 6 minutes.
Also on the card is ‘Del Boy’ Dereck Chisora, making his welcome return to the ring, since losing his British and Commonwealth Heavyweight straps to Tyson Fury back in July. On November 5th ‘Del Boy’ will be facing fellow Londoner Larry Olubamiwo.
As with Boulden-Saunders I can’t see this lasting very long at all as big Larry O isn’t in the same class as Del Boy, by a country mile, and I reckon Olubamiwo will be seeing stars before the end of the first round.
Also on the excellent card are ‘Super’ Bradley Skeete, Darren Cordona, George Michael Carmen as well as Billy Joe Saunders are fellow Jimmy and Mark Tibbs trained/TRAD TKO gym mates Frankie Buglioni and Gary Corcoran.
Frank Warren Promotions ‘Gladiators’ headlined by the interim WBO Lightweight title clash between Ricky Burns and Michael Katsidis will take place at Wembley Arena, and broadcast live on BoxNation (Sky Platform Ch. 456), on Saturday the 5th November 2011.
Tickets, priced £150 (Ringside), £100 (Floor), £75 (Floor), £50 (Tier) and £40 (Tier), are available now on-line at www.tkoboxoffice.com or from the TRAD TKO Boxing Gym, Gillian House, Stephenson Street, Canning Town, London E16 4SA
Steve ‘USS’ Cunningham – A True World Champion, In the Fullest Sense Of The Word
By Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro
On Saturday Steve ‘USS’ Cunningham, will make his first defense, of his second reign, as the IBF Cruiserweight Champion of World against the tough Serbian born Enad Licina at the RWE Rhein-Ruhr Sporthalle in Muelheim, Germany.
During his career Cunningham has proven to be one of the few World Champions who is unfazed by fighting on his opponent’s home turf. In fact it seems that he actually thrives on this type of challenge, which is handy because on Saturday night Cunningham will again be fighting in his opponent’s home country – Licina has fought eighteen times, out of his twenty one fight career, in his adopted homeland of Germany.
Cunningham, who had fought all over America before hitting the International scene, has never had a true ‘home’ fight, the nearest he fought to his home city of Philadelphia being when he faced Tomasz ‘Goral’ Adamek in Newark, New Jersey back in 2008.
Ports of call for the former Navy man include Brakpan, South Africa, where he beat former WBU & IBO Cruiserweight Champion Sebastiaan Rothmann, Katowice and Warsaw in Poland, Bielefeld and Neubrandenburg in Germany.
Both of Cunningham’s Championship winning bouts took place in Europe. His first, against Krzysztof ‘Diablo’ Wlodarczyk was at the Spodek in Katowice, Poland on the 26th May 2007. This was Steve’s second trip to Poland to face Wlodarczyk following a highly controversial ‘Home Cooked’ split decision in favour of ‘Diablo’ when they first met in Warsaw for the vacant title some six months earlier.
At the IBF ordered rematch Cunningham plain outboxed Wlodarczyk, as he did the previous time, and in the fourth round forced Wlodarczyk to take to one knee for a count which proved to be just enough to overcome any home advantage Wlodarczyk held and for Cunningham to emerge victorious.
For his first defense the globe trotting Cunningham set sail for Germany and a meeting with Marco “Kapt’n” Huck on the 29th December 2007. Against Huck, the bookies favourite, Cunningham looked stronger, tougher and harder punching than he had either time against Wlodarczyk. Huck was struggling to hold up against Cunningham’s aggressive approach and was being backed up and hurt nearly every round. The final round was an even more one sided affair with Cunningham chasing Huck around the ring throwing heavy right after heavy right until Huck’s corner, with just one minute and 4 seconds to go, threw the towel in the ring to save their charge further punishment or worse still a knockout loss.
Next up for Cunningham was a far shorter trip, just an hour or so train journey from his Philadelphia home, to the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey to face Jersey City based Polish expat Tomasz “Goral” Adamek. Whilst on paper this could be deemed a home fight for Cunningham to those ringside it felt more an away match due to many Polish fans that had turned out to support their hero.
From the opening bell Cunningham out punched Adamek and looked set to cruise his way through the fight dominating and controlling it in supreme style. However in the second round, just as Cunningham looked to be going for an early finish, Adamek threw a countering hook catching Cunningham with his forearm and sending Cunningham off balance and down to the canvas. Cunningham jumped up in an instant.
Determined to win back the lost points, Cunningham fought even harder and in the fourth had Adamek reeling and rocking. With just seconds to go Adamek, who had barely thrown a punch for almost the whole round, caught the off balance Cunningham and put him on the deck once more. Again Cunningham leaps to his feet after barely touching the canvas.
With two knockdowns against him Cunningham seemed determined to go for a knockout and looked well on his way to getting it when in the eighth the very same thing happened again. Just as Cunningham looked to finish his challenger off after a frantic exchange, Adamek caught a fast back stepping Cunningham off balance to send him down again, Cunningham was up again before the referee could even start the count.
The final rounds were superb Cunningham fought like a demon to try and make up the lost points and Adamek fought hard for survival.
When the final bell rang the consensus of the majority of the press corps was that the champ had done enough to be declared victor or, at least earn a draw to retain his crown. However the judges saw it differently and gave the victory to Adamek by split decision.
This battle was so magnificent that the vast majority of press reports claimed Cunningham-Adamek the all-time best cruiserweight fight and contender for ‘Fight Of The Year 2008’ honours as well as calling for a rematch.
Cunningham’s hopes of a voluntary rematch with Adamek failed to materialise, instead Cunningham was ordered to face former WBC Champion Wayne ‘Big Truck’ Braithwaite, at the BankAtlantic Center, Sunrise, Florida on the 11th July 2009, in an IBF final eliminator that decided who will be Tomasz ‘Goral’ Adamek’s mandatory defense later that year.
Cunningham won the fight easily via a twelve round unanimous decision (119-109, 117-111, 118-110) and the scene was set for the long awaited rematch with Adamek.
However, the fight was destined to never happen as Adamek vacated the title and moved to the Heavyweight Division.
Originally Cunningham was set to face Matt ‘Too Smooth’ Godfrey for the now vacated title but due to a rather confusing series of events that first see Don King Promotions pull the plug on the fight closely followed by Main Events’ Kathy Duva coming to the rescue, by taking over the ESPN televised event promotion.
Cunningham continued training throughout, but for some reason Godfrey decided to leave his training camp and subsequently pulled out of the fight.
Shortly after the Godfrey fight fiasco Cunningham’s eight year promotional contract with Don King Promotions came to an end and he signed with German promoters Sauerland Event.
Within a week of signing promotional papers with Sauerland the IBF announced that Troy Ross would be his next opponent following swift negotiations between Sauerland and Ross’ promoter Yvon Michel.
Once again the globe trotting ‘USS’ Cunningham prepared to leave his Philadelphia home and set sail for Europe.
On the 5th June 2010 Steve ‘USS’ Cunningham faced Canada’s Troy ‘The Boss’ Ross, at the Jahnsportforum, Neubrandenburg in Germany, for the vacant IBF Cruiserweight crown.
From the first bell Cunningham dominated the center of the ring using his wickedly fast jabs to keep the shorter Ross at bay. Ross, a seriously tough southpaw, seemed willing to take a few punches in order to get in closer to let off some wicked bombs.
Rounds two and three produced more of the same, although Ross was getting a little more success. The problem for Ross though was that his getting in more also meant he was taking more shots, causing noticeable swelling to his left eye.
Round four produced both a serious problem for Ross, who received a serious cut to the lower eyelid, and a scare for the Cunningham team as they see their man reel backwards and down to the canvas following a straight left to the chest.
Thoughts of a repeat scenario to the Adamek fight were dispelled within minutes as prior to the start of the fifth the referee, Bill Clancy, sent Cunningham to a neutral corner and called for the ringside doctor to check out Ross’ badly cut eye. The doctor had no choice but to stop the fight as it was clear that the Canadian’s eye injury was serious.
Steve ‘USS’ Cunningham was once again the IBF Cruiserweight Champion of the World which brings us nicely to date with Cunningham set to defend his newly regained crown against the seriously tough former IBF Inter-Continental Cruiserweight Champion Enad Licina on Saturday 12th February 2011.
Cunningham will have his hands full with the heavy hitting Licina, who has stopped ten of his opponents, however Cunningham’s 3” height advantage and superior reach, along with his seriously impressive movement and hand speed, could well be hurdles that Licina may not be able to overcome with his shuffling European style, which has been likened to that of Marco Huck – and of course we all know what happened when Cunningham met Huck.
Steve ‘USS’ Cunningham versus Enad Licina for the IBF Cruiserweight World Championship co-headlines with Cuban Yoan Pablo Hernandez versus France’s Steve ‘Centurion’ Herelius for the interim WBA Cruiserweight World title at the RWE Rhein-Ruhr Sporthalle, Muelheim, Germany on Saturday 12th February 2011.
Supporting the two Cruiserweight Championship headliners, at the Sauerland Event promoted show, are ‘King’ Arthur Abraham against Stjepan Bozic in a ten round Super Middleweight clash, Dominik Britsch versus Joe Rea in an eight round Middleweight bout, Francesco Pianeta faces Samir Kurtagic in an eight round Heavyweight contest.
In addition there are three Light Heavyweight bouts – Eduard Gutknecht vs. Oleksandr Cherviak, Karo Murat vs. Christian Cruz and Erik Skoglund vs. Valerijs Rogozins.