A po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous prac­tice

Jamaica Gleaner - - SPORTS -

NI­CHOLAS ‘THE Ax­e­man’ Wal­ters lit­er­ally threw down his axe and ran at the end of round seven of his sched­uled 12-round su­per feath­er­weight cham­pi­onship fight against Va­syl Lo­machenko over the week­end.

Be­wil­der­ment, sur­prise, dis­ap­point­ment and even anger typ­i­fied the mood of the box­ing fans in­side and out­side the arena, upon wit­ness­ing the bizarre mo­ments in the Ax­e­man’s cor­ner im­me­di­ately af­ter the bell sig­nalled the end of round seven, when the Ja­maican beck­oned to the ring ref­eree and ut­tered the in­fa­mous words ‘no mas’, akin to Roberto Du­ran in his 1980 bout against Sugar Ray Lea­nard. The Ax­e­man’s groan of ‘no mas’, as was that of Du­ran 36 years ago, meant ‘no more’ – no more beat­ing, no more pun­ish­ment, ‘I quit’ as the ref­eree sig­nalled the an­ti­cli­mac­tic end to the much­pub­li­cised fight.

My ini­tial thoughts were that Wal­ters must have been Va­syl Lo­machenko (left) of Ukraine pound­ing Ni­cholas Wal­ters, of Ja­maica, in a WBO ju­nior light­weight ti­tle box­ing match Satur­day, in Las Ve­gas.

car­ry­ing an undis­closed in­jury into the fight, or sus­tained a knock dur­ing the early rounds that re­sulted in him be­ing in­ca­pac­i­tated, thus his de­ci­sion to quit. Lo and be­hold, Wal­ters, in the post-fight in­ter­view, sim­ply said he could not go any­more, he could not find his range and could not land his punches as he could not get to the nim­ble south­paw, Lo­machenko. The Ax­e­man said his poor show­ing was due to his in­ac­tiv­ity, hav­ing

not fought for over a year, and that the long pe­riod of in­ac­tiv­ity lead­ing up to the fight ren­dered him un­able to com­pete with the bril­liant Ukrainian.

That was in­deed con­fir­ma­tion of the worst fears of many, that Ni­cholas ‘The Ax­e­man’ Wal­ters, the Ja­maican war­rior, the glad­i­a­tor, the cham­pion we know, in the big­gest fight of his ca­reer, had sim­ply QUIT. Wal­ters’ cor­ner never ac­tu­ally threw in the towel, the de­ci­sion

looked to be taken by Wal­ters him­self in a fight where, ad­mit­tedly, he was be­ing out­classed, but was cer­tainly not phys­i­cally hurt or se­ri­ously in­jured. It was sim­ply an old­fash­ioned act of cow­ardice.

The fans in­side the arena booed the Ja­maican for fail­ing to live up to his end of the bar­gain by bring­ing his skills, ex­pe­ri­ence, and the heart, to the night’s main event.

The truth be told, ‘The Ax­e­man’ looked timid and ner­vous from the very first bell. Lo­machenko sensed his fear and was as flaw­less in de­fence as he was con­fi­dent and re­lent­less in his at­tack­ing ex­e­cu­tion. It was the very first time in Wal­ters’ ca­reer that the oth­er­wise con­fi­dent and brash Ja­maican had no im­me­di­ate an­swers to a clearly superior fighter.

NOT A GOOD LOOK

In­struc­tively, his re­sponse to the first ca­reer chal­lenge of this mag­ni­tude also saw him quit­ting rather wimp­ishly. It was not a good look for Wal­ters and not a good look for Ja­maica.

As to what this will mean for his ca­reer and his rep­u­ta­tion as a prize fighter, we will have to wait and see; but for sure, the way he went out on Satur­day night, it will be hard for him to re­gain the trust and re­spect of the gen­eral box­ing pub­lic.

It is some­thing of an un­writ­ten rule in box­ing – ‘cham­pi­ons don’t quit’ and Wal­ters’ ex­pressed in­abil­ity to breach the de­fence of La­machenko was hardly a rea­son to quit just af­ter the half­way mark in a fight of this mag­ni­tude. Wal­ters has come a long way from box­ing in an imag­i­nary ring in the streets of Roe­hamp­ton in ru­ral St James to be­come the lat­est on the list of Ja­maican world box­ing cham­pi­ons. He has had some bumps and bruises along the way, but his de­ci­sion to quit half way through his big­gest fight of his ca­reer on the grand­est stage, will be a hard bump to re­cover from, and will leave Wal­ters and all of us won­der­ing what might have been, and what could have been. Carolina Pan­thers’ quar­ter­back, Cam New­ton. THE MOST im­por­tant as­pect of sports, be it lo­cal, back­yard, or in­ter­na­tional, is to en­sure the safety of the par­tic­i­pants. This man­date has be­come the ral­ly­ing call of sport medicine as­so­ci­a­tions world­wide, ever since this im­por­tant branch of medicine be­came ‘main­stream’ in the early 1960s.

Most in­ter­na­tional sport­ing as­so­ci­a­tions now make it manda­tory that teams have as part of their ‘of­fi­cial’ del­e­ga­tion, a mem­ber of the med­i­cal fra­ter­nity with proven ex­per­tise in iden­ti­fy­ing, man­ag­ing, and treat­ing in­juries. How­ever, be­fore iden­ti­fy­ing, man­ag­ing, and treat­ing in­juries to team mem­bers, the med­i­cally trained in­di­vid­ual must first ad­vise and im­ple­ment pro­ce­dures to PRE­VENT in­juries.

LACK OF KNOWL­EDGE

Un­for­tu­nately, whereas this fun­da­men­tal re­quire­ment is strictly ad­hered to in some in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tions, where the med­i­cal per­son is iden­ti­fied and given an of­fi­cial role and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, the paucity of such in­di­vid­u­als has al­lowed some or­gan­i­sa­tions to ap­point per­sons with ba­sic med­i­cal qual­i­fi­ca­tions but with an alarm­ing lack of spe­cific knowl­edge of the sport to which they have been ap­pointed. This lack of knowl­edge soon be­comes ap­par­ent to the tech­ni­cal staff as­signed to the team, with the re­sult­ing (and un­for­tu­nate) se­quel where med­i­cal ad­vice is rarely sought and if ob­tained, stu­diously ig­nored.

I have no­ticed this flaw/anom­aly, and my in­ves­ti­ga­tion has led me to be­lieve that eco­nomics seem to be the driv­ing force be­hind this po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous prac­tice. I have found that there is no sport­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion that de­lib­er­ately goes out of its way to ap­point med­i­cal per­son­nel, to ful­fil rule re­quire­ments, who lack ei­ther ex­per­tise or ex­pe­ri­ence in the skills re­quired for this im­por­tant as­pect of team se­lec­tion. The in­di­vid­u­als who have taken the time (and sac­ri­fice) to get trained in the ba­sics of sport medicine, gen­er­ally tend to have press­ing eco­nomic needs that some­how have to be ac­knowl­edged. There­fore, be­cause of the cost in­volved, teams often tend to re­quest friends and as­so­ci­ates with med­i­cal qual­i­fi­ca­tion in an un­re­lated field to ‘vol­un­teer’, thus ful­fill­ing the rule re­quire­ments of the sport. In ThirdWorld coun­tries where money is gen­er­ally tight, this usu­ally works, un­til the tech­ni­cal ‘ex­pert’ in the team be­lieves that he/she knows more than the med­i­cal ap­pointee. This ‘stand-off’ usu­ally oc­curs when a ‘star’ player is in­volved. I have known of cases where a key player has suf­fered a frac­tured leg dur­ing a strate­gic stage of a foot­ball fi­nal and the medic on duty is be­seeched with in­struc­tions to “just ban­dage the leg. Don’t take him off. If him come off, doc, we dead!” Amaz­ingly, this re­quest was com­pounded by sim­i­lar sen­ti­ments from the player him­self!

In foot­ball, the great Franz Beck­en­bauer of the then West Ger­many was al­lowed to con­tinue play­ing in a cru­cial World

AP

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