My patients often ask me, “What is like to be ringside for the biggest fights in the world,” or “What is Mike Tyson like?” Having worked professional fights for over 20 years from Madison Square Garden and Barclay’s to Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods, I have really had a lot of fun being a boxing doctor. It is fun for my patients to see me on tv and I enjoy when they tell me they saw me on HBO or Showtime over the weekend. I have presented on Ringside Medicine at conferences in Beijing, China and Berlin, Germany and of course numerous times in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Traveling is part of the fun of being a ringside doc but meeting and teaching my fellow doctors around the world has been extremely rewarding and I know I am giving back to this great sport.
Working ringside is really about one thing – protecting the fighter. When do I stop a fight? The golden rule of ringside medicine is to stop the fight when the combatant can no longer adequately defend himself. For example, this happened at a fight I worked at in Yankee Stadium when one of the fighters tore his ACL. Also, at a fight on Long Island when one of the boxers dislocated his shoulder. I have stopped numerous matches when a fighter’s eye was so swollen he could not see out of it or when a fighter just stopped throwing punches. Rarely will a boxer want to stop a fight and hardly ever will his cornermen (even if it is the fighter’s father) be willing to quit. It is my job to step up, evaluate and stop those fights.
Although I sit in the corner for the fights, I am working and not there to just enjoy the fight. While people are cheering for their fighter to destroy his or her opponent, I am hoping no one gets too badly hurt. I really enjoy the fights and the energy of the crowds is electrifying. However, when one of the fighters is taking a beating, it can be difficult to watch. The crowd does not want the fight to stop and it is only through years of experience and working hundreds of fights that I have developed the sense when it is time to end the fight. I have had great teachers and I thank them for how they have educated me. I am still learning and it is a great responsibility and honor to help protect these courageous athletes.
The glory of being a TV doc is great, but people don’t realize how much we do behind the scenes. The day before the bouts, we examine every fighter from head to toe. We review their blood tests, EKGs, and brain MRIs. The night of the fight we arrive around 3PM and often don’t leave until 1AM. We re-examine every fighter before the fight and again after the fight and of course sit in the corner during the fights. Typically, there are 6-10 fights in a night. Assuming everything goes well, it is a fun night but exhausting.
Oh, and the question of how is Mike Tyson? He is very nice, but I would have to say the most intimidating person I have ever met in my entire life.