In part because of neurological problems experienced by former heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, the president of a neurologist's group is joining a call by other physicians for a ban on boxing.

"Originally, I agreed with the (American Medical Association's) Council on Scientific Affairs and our board of directors that although boxing is harmful, it cannot be outlawed and, therefore, the best policy is to work to try to adequately police it," said Dr. Nelson Richards of Richmond, who is president of the American Academy of Neurology.

"However, a few months ago," Richards was quoted as saying in an article in the AMA's American Medical News, "I saw Muhammad Ali on a television interview and I was struck that this man who previously was known for his glibness was almost unintelligible.

"I changed my mind," Richards said. "Boxing should be banned."

Ali reportedly has a relatively minor neurological disorder -- Parkinsonism -- that his physician, Stanley Fahn, says could have been caused by many things, but most probably was the result of blows to the head from boxing . . .

The California Medical Association has urged an end to amateur boxing in the state because it said new evidence shows an "extraordinary" likelihood of brain damage.

Dr. David B. Horner, president of the 33,000-physician organization, said, "A recent study of ex-boxers and active professional fighters showed that 87 percent of them had definite evidence of brain damage."