Thank you for a well-written, timely and important special report on boxing (Too Many Punches, Too Little Concern, April 11). The impartiality of the authors, Robert H. Boyle and Wilmer Ames, was refreshing, and the information given was clear and to the point. I have long enjoyed boxing and I don't think it should or ever will be banned, but medical questions such as the ones raised cannot be ignored. While all the evidence may not be in, enough has been found that the sport should consider more seriously how it can better protect its athletes.
I found it quite disturbing to read in Jeff Wheelwright's conversation with Muhammad Ali that Ali said, "Why do you want to check my brain? How about white boxers...?" Race is not the issue. The health of men who choose to be boxers is. That most boxers in the U.S. today are black, if racial terms must be used, should be all the more reason for Ali to be concerned with their welfare, in and out of the ring. Ali should realize that everyone's brain is the same color.
I take issue with your statement, "But CAT scans and full neurological exams before and after fights aren't practical—nor, at $300 apiece, cost-efficient, given what the average boxer earns."
To cover the costs of these tests, boxing should set up a general medical fund to which a certain percentage—maybe 10%—would be contributed from every purse, so that every boxer could be tested before and after each fight.
RONALD J. ROGACKI
I have enjoyed your publication for years, and the only thing that has bothered me is the constant coverage you have given to boxing. Intentionally or not, you glorify the "sport" of trying to inflict brain damage on another human being every time you print an article on a boxing match. If enough people can become informed about the impact of boxing on many fighters—i.e., permanent brain damage—I think boxing will cease to be a popular sport.
BRONSON T. SWANSON
Ann Arbor, Mich.
Why would the politicians [Congress] want to take over boxing? They can't even balance the budget; how can they balance a fighter's brain? Come on, now, I've heard old boxers talk, and believe me, they make more sense than some politicians, James Watt, for instance. A man who has chosen to fight is like somebody who has chosen to smoke—he knows what he's getting into.
There is something, however, that needs to be looked into that your EEGs and CAT scans can't see. It's the King-Arum-WBC-WBA-TV executives' mismatches.
As a law student I have been taught to seek the truth. I have also learned in the course of my short life that the truth is at times better left unspoken.
I consider Muhammad Ali a great hero. He taught a whole generation a compelling lesson in courage, desire and achievement. It seems clear to anyone who has seen him recently that he is not the same man that he was. And yet he continues to stand tall among the great athletes of our time. I, and I suspect many others, would prefer that his image remain as untarnished as possible. Boxing has problems, and articles like yours are most necessary. I ask only that you consider allowing me to keep my memories of Ali. I much prefer to recall him floating like a butterfly.
New York City
Recently my wife and I enjoyed the privilege of watching Muhammad Ali dance and shuffle his way through a six-round boxing exhibition. We had a memorable evening and were thoroughly entertained by his skill, his agility and, most of all, his sense of humor. Our good time seemed to be shared by all in attendance. Therefore, you can imagine how surprised I was to find out that Ali may have brain damage. Of course, until a CAT scan confirms a 50% reduction in his neurological capacity, this great champion will still enjoy an unfair advantage when it comes to matching wits with his critics.
San Jose, Calif.