The American Medical Association's 351-member House of Delegates today called for the elimination of boxing as an amateur sport, and it urged development of model legislation "seeking to curtail the utilization of boxing as a public spectacle."
The resolution, adopted after heated debate on the last day of the AMA's annual meeting, also urged that health risks associated with boxing be publicized.
Its appproval followed a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association this year that said repeated blows to the head can cause brain damage. That report said damage can occur early in a fighter's career, but that its severity depends on the number of blows.
Dr. William F. Dowda of Atlanta told the panel considering the boxing resolution that "any sport whose objective is to injure another human being is an abomination. There is absolutely no justification for a sport that condones a brain concussion."
The resolution called for the elimination of boxing from amateur, scholastic, intercollegiate and government athletic programs, but there was concern among some of the AMA representatives about their resolution's undercutting such programs as the Golden Gloves and Olympic boxing.
Dr. Russell Patterson, chairman of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, criticized Dowda's remarks, calling his presentation "an emotional appeal of great strength, full of loaded words like 'brutality.' "
Patterson said the incidence of brain damage "is not a problem" among amateur fighters who have received medical examinations, and he cited a study at 11 eastern colleges that showed the incidence of accumulated head injury in football was at least as high as in boxing.
The AMA's action comes at a time of increased interest in boxing regulation following the death last November of South Korean fighter Duk Koo Kim of head injuries suffered in a nationally televised World Boxing Association lightweight title fight with Ray (Boom Boom) Mancini.
"I think their (AMA delegates') position is unreasonable," Sig Rogich, chairman of the Nevada State Boxing Commission, said. "I think if they're going to categorize risk factors in boxing as a professional sport, then they should use the same philosophy with other sports."
On Capitol Hill legislation is pending that calls for a national study commission to determine whether a federal regulatory panel should be established to oversee boxing. Last month a House subcommittee expanded the scope of the proposed study commission to recommend whether or not boxing should be abolished altogether.