As a former professional boxer and someone who has unfortunately experienced a very similar situation during my own career, I feel it necessary to bring to your attention some of my recent observations concerning the terrible tragedy that occurred during the latest World's Lightweight Boxing Championship bout between Ray (Boom-Boom) Mancini and Duk Koo Kim. And perhaps, in retrospect, this tragedy and other human devastations of a similar nature may well have been avoided--and could still be averted in the future--with just a simple observation of mechanics.
Remembering vividly and very painfully my own experience early in my career with this same type of head injury to one of my sparring partners (who fortunately recovered), I was made acutely aware of the possibility of such tragic accidents. But it has also been my observation throughout the years that the injuries sustained on these rare occasions may not necessarily be caused (contrary to most public and medical opinion) by the force of the blow itself.
Rather, the life-threatening injury could be sustained by the fighter falling to the canvas and the back of his neck striking the lower strand of the ropes which, coupled with the velocity of the fall itself, consequently delivers a tremendous whiplash-like effect directly to the nexus of the nerve impulses at the base of the skull, causing brain trauma and producing blood clots, which ultimately could bring about the death of the fighter.
This observation can be readily investigated and confirmed or disproved should one choose to examine not only the film footage of the recent Kim-Mancini fight, but that of other bouts as well which brought about the deaths of MaVern Roach, Sugar Ramos and Davey Moore, just to mention a few. In fact, all the bouts of old where death or serious injury has occurred should be carefully reexamined in this new light.
For if this is so--and it can very easily be proven or disproven--the question then arises, how can this problem be ameliorated? And to this, one could answer that the best solution seems to be the one which is most obvious: the repositioning of the bottom strand.
This could be easily accomplished by simply increasing the length of the lower strand of the rope by a mere four feet and then increasing the tension on the turnbuckle itself, which thereby forces the lower strand of the rope outwards six to eight inches in the direction of the outside apron and completely eliminates the possibility of the fighter's head or neck striking that portion of the rope at any time and yet still serves its original purpose of preventing a downed fighter from falling out of the ring.
This readjustment may also do away completely with the horrible necessity of such courageous young people as Kim and Mancini, their families and their loved ones, from ever having to experience again these awesome and traumatic consequences which some of us have already had to suffer and endure by actually having struck those lower ropes ourselves, or by having unintentionally contributed to the cause of someone else striking them.
So isn't the act of saving a life worthwhile? Isn't the mere possibility of helping to prevent the unnecessary loss of life or limb worth the small effort it takes to investigate these observations? And could any reasonable person do less than that?
Moreover, this slight adjustment of the bottom strand will in no way alter or affect the top two or three strands, nor will it in any way compromise the existing rules and regulations which govern professional and amateur boxing. In fact, this adjustment can only add to the integrity of the sport by adding to the safety of the participants, which is certainly paramount. The possibility of this minor restructuring of the lower strand having any adverse effect on the viewing audience, as did the concept of the "round ring," is virtually nonexistent because the alteration would be so slight that it would actually be visually imperceptible--and the cost negligible.
Given, even hypothetically, that this suggestion could be a viable solution, the question then arises: Throughout the long history of boxing in this country, why, then, has this proposal never been put forward? Because it's too simple?
Well, we have all, from time to time, been prisoners of one kind or another. We have all, at times, been prisoners of our own assumptions. Because we assume a thing is so, it must be so. And the assumption has always been that the ropes on a boxing ring provide a safety factor and serve as a margin of protection for the boxer. But there may be a tragic irony here in that what is perceived primarily as a protective device may in reality be the cause of serious injury.
Have you ever considered this as a possibility before?