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J. Austin Murphy
February 11, 1985
Back in the Dark Ages of boxing, before $1 million purses and closed-circuit television, trainer Ray Arcel had a homespun medicament for fighters who were cut during a bout. He'd detach a pinch of chaw from the wad of tobacco in his mouth, smooth it between thumb and forefinger, mash it against the gash and send his man back out. Afterward, of course, he'd make certain the lad was properly darned by a doctor.
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February 11, 1985

The Arcel Medical Center Is A Start Toward The Care Of Retired Boxers

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"A lot of guys used to come up, and I'd have the doctors check 'em out," he says. Often, when a "fight guy" required an extended hospital stay but wasn't covered, Gellman applied discreet pressure. "I'd tell the doctors, 'I give you four, five beds a day—for crissakes take care of one of my fighters!' Otherwise they'd send 'em down to one of the city hospitals and let the interns work on 'em."

Though Jewish Memorial is closed and Gellman is retired, he is on the telephone instantly when a Ring 8 member without wherewithal or coverage needs a doctor. He bullyrags, wheedles, cajoles, whatever it takes. "I am not without influence," he says.

Impassioned voices have risen lately, some for boxing's abolition, some against it. Ironically, many of the sport's living, breathing legacies venture no strong opinions. They're too busy scratching a living from the hard edges of a society with which they don't seem quite compatible. Kapilow and others have called for financial assistance from fight fans and those who profit most from boxing—promoters and television networks—but it's a mismatch.

Radiating meager hope, meanwhile, the Ray Arcel Medical Center sits in mid-town Manhattan, doing what little it can. His tobacco chewin' days are history, but Arcel will still tell you that before a wound can heal, you must first stop the bleeding.

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