In a letter recently provided to Bloody Elbow, but dated the 6th of July, the Association of Ringside Physicians (ARP), requested the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) stop telling people they approved of rule changes they actually have “concerns” about, and provide a written statement making that clear to all member commissions.
The controversial rule changes in question relate to the definition of a grounded fighter and the addition of heel kicks to the kidney as a legal move. The ARP’s position seems to be that they have not approved these changes, and will not do so until more research into the potential health risks of the changes has been performed.
Back in December, I expressed my own concerns about the ABC medical committee’s apparent lack of research into the potential risks of the rule changes and the fact no study or report into the risks was written by the committee while considering the changes.
Several commissions haven’t adopted the new rules, some due to the difficult nature of changing rules in their state and others, like New Jersey, haven’t adopted them due to concerns about the potential impact to fighter safety.
It should be noted that several members of the ABC’s medical committee, which did approve the rule changes, are also members of the ARP. I previously published some concerns from other experienced ringside doctors and nephrologists about the rule changes.
The president of the ABC, Mike Mazzulli, gave the following statements regarding the ARP’s letter.
“I understand where the ARP is coming from; they have to be independent of the ABC and fighter safety is the most important [thing to them], but I do stress to you—and I sent this out to the body—that at no point in the last year has a fight been stopped because of the new rule changes, [or have] the rule changes adversely affected the health of the fighters.”
“We all know the fighters want these rule changes; they all admitted they wanted it, and at no point in the last year has a fight been stopped adversely because of the rule changes. I don’t recall in my 21 years in this combative sports business a fight being stopped because somebody heel kicked to the kidneys on the ground, let alone standing up and kicked to the kidneys.”
“What we should really concentrate on is the dehydration issue and that these kids are fighting dehydrated, which could kill them just as easy.”
The letter requested that a written statement be provided to all ABC members making it clear the ARP did not and does not endorse the 2016 rule changes, which as of August 14, hadn’t been sent. Mr. Mazzulli emphasized that this was an oversight on his part and not a deliberate attempt to suppress the information.
“Due to the fact I’ve been overwhelmed with the convention, I didn’t provide [a written statement] to the body. The body knows what is occurring and [not sending a written statement] was just an oversight on my part. It wasn’t done to not tell people.”
“The bottom line is I understand where the ARP are coming from. They are professionals and I support the ARP 100%.”