Boxing: Brain scans for boxers

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The Independent Online
All professional boxers in Britain will have to undergo an annual brain scan before they are allowed to fight, the British Boxing Board of Control announced yesterday.

The revolutionary scheme designed to improve fighters' safety begins on Monday, and a trust fund has been set up by the Board to implement the scheme.

The MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scans will be carried out at eight country-wide centres, Belfast, Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow, London, Manchester and Newcastle, with the results sent to be analysed at the London Imaging Centre.

Promoter Frank Warren, whose financial contribution has helped to set the fund in motion, first suggested the new safety measure following the tragic death of Scottish bantamweight James Murray after his British title fight with Drew Docherty in October 1995.

Warren said yesterday: "Boxing is finally looking after their own and, hopefully, this will be followed by the rest of the world."

The Board have asked other promoters to generate funds, and general secretary John Morris said: "The sport must help itself and get off their backsides. Hopefully, major promoters will stage shows to boost the trust fund."

The scans, which initially cost pounds 500, can now be obtained for pounds 250, and the Board, are willing to loan new professionals pounds 150 towards the total, to be repaid at pounds 50 for each of their first three fights.

Morris said that out of 1,000 licensed boxers in Great Britain, 350 are actively engaged, and there is sufficient cash to run the scheme for a year.

Morris added that the ABA, amateur boxing's ruling body, has also been approached. "I hope we will come up with a formula to make it work," he said.

The Board's chairman Len "Nipper" Read said: "This introduction of annual scanning is very important, but still only a step along the way.

"We can never make a risk sport entirely safe, we must watch ever increasing costs that burden boxers, but we must always listen to advice on safety in the ring."

Warren, who promotes more than 75 fighters, added: "For some of the young boxers who have just turned professional, it is hard for them to earn a living whilst trying to put all their efforts into their boxing career.

"I hope that I will be able to help them by contributing to the scan fund. A sum of pounds 100 will be paid towards every professional boxer's MRI scan from the money I have donated.