Center Devoted to Combat Sports Will Research Tough Questions

LAS VEGAS, Nevada - Former undisputed heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis and renowned trainer Teddy Atlas are pulling no punches in backing the newly formed Combat Sports Center for Safety and Research (CSCSR). “I’m excited about being a part of this groundbreaking initiative. The research is important for the sport and will ensure the future safety of boxers,” notes Lewis.

The CSCSR has been created to promote safety and awareness in sports such as boxing and mixed martial arts. Safety decisions in combat sports must be made on the basis of hard data rather than guesswork. This will be accomplished by conducting in-depth research, providing educational material and training, and promoting safe practices.

"Our goal is to be the premier provider of objective, quality research and educational training in order to promote safety and prolong the careers of those in the combat sports," said Johns Hopkins researcher and Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine Dr. Gregory Bledsoe.

This independent research center was co-founded with other well-respected physicians: Chief Scientist and Hopkins Professor Dr. Guohua Li, MD, Dr. PH; Association of Boxing Commissions Vice President and former Nevada State Athletic Commissioner and emergency physician, Dr. Flip Homansky; and Nevada State Athletic Commission Medical Advisory Board Chairman, former Chief Ringside Physician, and Neurologist, Dr. Margaret Goodman. Seth Horowitz, CEO and President of Everlast Worldwide alsoserves on the board.

The CSCSR Advisory Board includes the vast expertise of Lennox Lewis, the former undisputed heavyweight champ and color commentator from HBO's Boxing After Dark; Teddy Atlas, color commentator for ESPN's Friday Night Fights; former heavyweight and light heavyweight Ultimate Fighting Champion Randy Couture; and journalist and safety advocate Allan Scotto.

CSCSR's first study includes new MRI technology from Fonar, one of the world's leading developer and manufacturer of MRI scanners, and a portable system that provides real-time assessment of mild traumatic brain injury to rapidly assess cognitive function co-invented by Dr. Michelle LaPlaca and Dr. David Wright from Georgia Tech and Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. This will be the first longitudinal study to link radiologic data with data regarding cognitive functioning before and immediately following a fight.

"Our hope is that these data can be used to identify participants at risk of traumatic brain injury and provide those officiating such events additional objective criteria by which they can assess fighters in the ring," Dr. Bledsoe said.

The second longitudinal study, already underway, is in conjunction with the California State Athletic Commission and Executive Officer, Armando Garcia, aimed at correlating weights of fighters at the weigh-in, before competition the night of the event, and immediately following the fight with factors such as fight outcome, age and career history.

"This is an opportunity to bring the expertise of researchers from Hopkins, as well as Georgia Tech and Emory University together with the boxing community,” Homansky said. “Hopefully, it is just beginning."

Atlas agrees: "This can be something that can serve fighters and the fight business. Hopefully we'll get some answers that will make the sport safer."

The Combat Sports Center for Safety and Research is an independent not-for-profit 501(c)3 corporation. It is not affiliated or endorsed by any established academic institution including The Johns Hopkins Medical Institute, Georgia Institute of Technology, or Emory University. For additional information, please contact either Dr. Margaret Goodman at (702) 255-8785 or Dr. Greg H. Bledsoe at [email protected]

Participant Biographical Data
Gregory H. Bledsoe, MD, MPH is Assistant Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland. Dr. Bledsoe is an emergency physician with a research focus on injury prevention. He has published in many peer-reviewed journals including The Journal of Trauma, The Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, Pediatric Emergency Care, Wilderness and Environmental Medicine, and Prehospital and Disaster Medicine. He is also an expedition physician who has traveled to over 40 countries, and provides medical training and support for the United States Secret Service.

Guohua Li, MD, Dr.PH is Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland. Dr. Li is an epidemiologist specializing in injury causation and trauma outcome. He has authored over 100 manuscripts published in peer-reviewed medical and health journals. Dr. Li is a former winner of the Kenneth Rothman Epidemiology Prize and a current Guggenheim Fellow.

Edwin "Flip" Homansky, MD is an Emergency Physician in Las Vegas where he is Chief Medical Officer for the Valley Health System. Dr. Homansky started as a ring physician with the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) in the early 1980's and later became Chief Physician and Medical Advisory Board Chairman. During his more than twenty years with the NSAC, he also served as a commissioner for 5 years. He is Vice President of the Association of Boxing Commissions, and co-authored the book Ringside and Training Principles. His numerous safety accomplishments include pioneering HIV testing, steroid testing, and mandatory MRI/MRA testing on fighters in the state of Nevada.

Margaret Goodman, MD has been a practicing neurologist in Las Vegas since 1988. Dr. Goodman was a ring physician with the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) for 12 years, and also served as Chief Ringside Physician. She is Chairman of the NSAC's Medical Advisory Board and Medical Committee Chairman for the Association of Boxing Commissions. Dr. Goodman co-authored Ringside and Training Principles; a book aimed primarily at fighters and trainers, and is a regular contributor to Ring magazine. Dr. Goodman has been instrumental in the institution of advanced safety standards in Nevada including mandatory MRI/MRA testing. Drs. Goodman and Homansky will be honored "for a career marked by honesty and integrity" at this year's Boxing Writers Association of America banquet.

Seth Horowitz, Chairman, CEO, and President of Everlast Worldwide, Inc. Named as one of the "25 Leaders to Watch" by Sports Edge Magazine, Mr. Horowitz has continued in his father's footsteps as a substantial contributor to both the amateur and professional boxing community, and has participated in educational seminars to boxing fighters and trainers. Everlast has shown a commitment to fighter safety and has endeavored to improve their equipment through research such as this.

Lennox Lewis, former undisputed heavyweight champion, started boxing at age 12. He amassed an amateur record of 85 wins-9 losses, and went on to earn a Gold medal at the 1988 Seoul Olympics for Team Canada when he defeated future world champion Riddick Bowe. He turned pro in 1989 and retired in 2004 with a professional record of 41 wins, 2 losses, and 1 draw. Among the boxers he beat were Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, and
Vitali Klitschko. Along with Muhammad Ali and Evander Holyfield, Lennox is the only boxer in heavyweight history to have won the heavyweight championship on three separate occasions. Lennox understands both the rewards and dangers of the sport. He has been a professional and safety advocate in and out of the ring. Lennox continues his career in boxing as the new color commentator for HBO's Boxing After Dark.

Teddy Atlas started his career in boxing under the tutelage of legendary trainer Cus D'Amato. His boxing career was cut short due to an injury, and he began to train fighters for D'Amato including Mike Tyson. As a professional trainer, he worked at one time or another with world champions Michael Moorer, Tracy Patterson, Barry McGuigan, Donnie LaLonde, Simon Brown, and Joey Gamache. For over 20 years, Teddy has done color commentary for radio and television programs, and is currently the boxing color commentator for ESPN Friday Night Fights. He is founder and Chairman of the Dr. Theodore A. Atlas foundation that attempts to ease the burden of those less fortunate, and his book, Atlas: From the Streets to the Ring: A Son's Struggle to Become a Man has just been released.

Randy Couture is the only athlete to have held championship titles in the heavyweight and light heavyweight divisions of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Randy spent 6 years in the US army, then attended and graduated from Oklahoma State University with a degree in foreign languages and literature. He then worked as an assistant wrestling coach for Oregon State University before entering the UFC at age 34. He was a three-time Olympic team alternate (1988, 1992, and 1996); a semifinalist at the 2000 Olympics Trials; a three-time National Collegiate Athletic Association All American; and a four-time NCAA finalist. In his UFC career of 14 wins, he holds wins over Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, and Mike Van Arsdale. After retiring in 2006, Randy continues in the sport as trainer and advisor for Team Quest.

Allan Scotto is a journalist who began in boxing working for "New York Sportscene Magazine." He has also worked as a research consultant for the NBC Budweiser Boxing Series, and was a consulting producer for Fox's boxing reality show, The Next Great Champ. Allan now works exclusively as an internet journalist and is widely recognized as a proponent for fighter safety.

FONAR Corporation is one of the world's leading developer and manufacturer of MRI scanners. Throughout 25 years of invention, development and production, Fonar has been on the leading edge of innovation in the MRI industry. In 1980, Fonar revolutionized diagnostic imaging through the introduction of the world's first commercial MRI scanner. Now Fonar has revolutionized diagnostic imaging with its Upright MRI, the world's first MRI that performs Upright Imaging and Position Imaging. In 1970, Raymond Damadian, MD, made the discovery that is the basis for magnetic resonance (MR) scanning that there is a marked difference in relaxation times between normal and abnormal tissues, This seminal discovery, which remains the basis for the making of every MRI image ever produced, is the foundation of the MRI industry. Fonar has great interest in making boxing more safe, and is donating their technology to reach this goal.

Michelle LaPlaca, PhD is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, a joint department between Georgia Tech and Emory University. Following post-doctoral training in Neurosurgery at the University of Pennsylvania, she joined the faculty at Georgia Tech in 1998. Dr. LaPlaca's research interests are in 1) brain and spinal cord injury biomechanics and 2) repair strategies for central nervous system injury to reduce ongoing cell and tissue damage and promote regeneration. She has several active research projects aimed at understanding the complex injury mechanisms associated with traumatic central nervous system injury. She is co-inventor of a revolutionary self-contained, portable system to create an immersive environment and administer a series of abbreviated neuropsychological tests to rapidly assess cognitive function. Dr. LaPlaca has received an NSF CAREER award and is a member of several professional organizations, including the National Neurotrauma Society, the Biomedical Engineering Society, and the American Society for Neural Therapy and Repair.

David Wright, MD is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Emergency medicine and the Co-Director of the Emergency Medicine Research Center at Emory University. At Emory, he directs the Brain Injury Research Group, an interdisciplinary and highly collaborative core of clinicians and researchers investigating novel ways to address acute neuronal injury. He is co-inventor, with Dr. LaPlaca, on a revolutionary self-contained system that will provide a real-time assessment of mild traumatic brain injury in environments previously non-conducive for neuropsychological testing. Dr. Wright oversees clinical trials associated with validation in several hospitals and athletic settings. Dr. Wright is also a member of the program faculty for the Graduate Division of Biological and Biomedical Sciences at Emory University, and the core faculty for the Center for Injury Control and Prevention at GT/Emory. He is a true bench to bedside translational researcher, bridging the gap between basic science research and clinical practice.



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