Wednesday, October 5, 2022

OP-ED/ Photo Review: Why the Boxing Commissioner Called to "STOP THE FIGHT" ?

In a recent interview with former boxing commissioner John Signorile, we covered much ground about preserving lessons learned from the "age-old sport of kings".  

Throughout his stream of historical sports highlights, we landed on the topic of CONCUSSION, where the commissioner was inspired by many references.  Signorile stepped back and peeled a dusty framed photo of a first round knockout round between Wilder vs. Stiverne where this prized memorabilia would travel us closer to this historical heavyweight title event.

The photo was a stunning one-in-a-million shot from Nov. 2017 - from a moment in time (as captured by the sports photographer, Stephanie Trapp).  Standing at the right place and at the right time, her lens managed to freeze multiple streams of explosive action that comprised Deontay Wilder completely obliterating Bermane Stiverne.  The empty, worn out 'rag-doll' form of Stiverne's flacid body laid melted and dangling senselessly from the bottom rope. Center frame was the referee (Arthur Mercante Jr.) airborne on top of the highly charged and powerful Wilder, desperately grappling on the aggressive champ with his own unremarkable body. "Mercante responded vigorously to my raising the hand in the air at ringside-- that's the signal to 'STOP THE FIGHT!'... any more than this would be unconscionable".  

Signorile held the sole discretion of ending the bout prematurely, and enacting this was no easy decision.  The obviously gross mismatch between the animalistic laser-speed punches by Wilder and the three knockdowns (at the first round) of the un-responsive, out of shape Stiverne  "called for real intervention in the worst way!"  

See Video of the ONE-Round Fight:


ATHLETES JOINING THE FIGHT FOR FUNCTIONAL WELLNESS (Pt 1) 9/2/2022‐ In the spirit of a joint partnership for improved public wellness, a unique and special advocacy team was formed in Montreal, Canada between three unlikely yet profound champions in their own respective arenas. This trio is comprised of a functional clinician (Prof. Joseph Toy), an imaging specialist from NYC (Dr. Robert Bard) and a world class boxing champ (WBC Bridgerweight Oscar Rivas). Their immediate synergy inspired a collective message for what will soon be part of the next episode of MEDICAL VISIONARIES, a wellness news series produced by IPHA (Integrative Pain Healers Alliance) and the AngioFoundation (501c3). This issue offers informative concepts about the growing trend in non-invasive alternatives including regenerative medicine in the athletic community. (See Press Release)

John Signorile was an amateur boxer for 20 years (1981 to 1995) with an extensive career in local, national and in world boxing tournaments. With a record of 41 wins over 11 losses, Signorile trained with a wide range of fighters on the amateur and professional scale.   By 1995, he retired his gloves and entered the professional ranks as a judge, referee and cornerman- and then evolved on the official arena as the New York State Boxing Commissioner from 2013 to 2018. 

As an amateur I sparred with the pros to get experience, which may not have been the best idea in hindsight. Long term effects of that may haunt you because professionals could hit very hard- much harder than an amateurs. 

I was never knocked out- only stopped once, which is a good thing (laughs).  In most boxers cases, when they get a traumatic punch to the head, you have concussions that can occur. I recall one incident when I was training with a gentleman for a fight-- a firefighter, actually. We were training for the Police/Fire show at Madison Square Garden. The guy gets hit on the chin and they called the stop because he said "the back of my head is BURNING" - and we didn't know why. I watched him continue and then I left the gym. I heard 10 minutes later he came out of the ring and he was nauseous and he started to throw up. Our coach had a lot of experience (with this type of issue) so he rushed the fighter to the hospital. They concluded a concussion... and poor Frankie fell on the floor at the hospital and was out cold. 

When training, amateurs or pros must train with a headgear and box with headgear during tournaments. This is very regulated and there's a penalty of a 30-180 day suspension for not wearing headgear if you are caught training and getting injured without it.  You won't be able to train or enter fights at all. You may even get your license suspended for (I think) 180 days.  The commissioners do not regulate the gyms-- you need to send boxing inspectors who can go to each gym and make sure they have the safety equipment (like electro defibrillators) and have CPR trained and certified individuals.

Over a prolonged period of time they've shown studies that a boxer may get jabbed at the top or front of the skull during a fight an average of (say maybe) 70 to 150 times easily. The same goes for training. Every time you're getting tapped in the front of your skull, your brain is hitting the back of your skull. So trauma is slowly developing. It's like tapping an egg lightly many times. Eventually that egg's going crack if you keep tapping on it.  Reports show boxers have more of the traumatic brain injuries than the mixed martial artist. If you look at MMA fighters,  they're not too pretty with their noses smashed... their cauliflower ears etc.  But prolonged period of getting "tap, tap, tapped" is worse than that one elbow to the top of your skull. 

During my tenure as (Boxing) Commissioner, I witnessed many cases involving suspension for things like testing positive for steroids.  They need to undergo neurological testing to be released (to compete again).  I think you need CT-scan and neurological testing when you're getting your license and you need one for every fight. I find regulations and testing like this are crucial for the health of all fighters and to keep the sport clean for everyone.


As a neuroscientist, I can attest to the devastating effects of concussion on the brain. The brain is a delicate and complex organ, and even a mild concussion can result in short-term symptoms such as headache, dizziness, and confusion, as well as long-term effects such as memory loss, cognitive impairment, and mood disorders.

It is crucial that athletes who suffer from concussion receive proper medical attention and rest to allow the brain to heal. While it may be tempting to push through the pain and continue to compete, doing so can cause further damage and potentially irreversible harm to the brain.

 One promising method for helping individuals recover from concussion is through the use of brainwave entrainment technology, such as BrainTap. The BrainTap concussion study showed that subjects who used BrainTap regularly experienced between 30-70% improvement in neurological function one year after their injury. This is a significant finding, as it demonstrates that technology can play a vital role in aiding recovery from brain trauma.

It is important to remember that concussion is not a minor injury and should not be taken lightly. The long-term effects of concussion can be severe and life-altering. Athletes must prioritize their health and well-being above their desire to compete, and those who do suffer from concussion must receive proper care and support to facilitate a full recovery.qaqqaqIn conclusion, the decision to stop a boxing match due to concussion is a difficult but necessary one. The health and safety of the athletes must be the top priority, and proper medical attention and rest are critical to recovery. More studies need to be completed but with the use of technologies such as BrainTap and photobiomodulation therapy,  we can help individuals recover from concussion and improve their neurological function in the long term.

Also see other articles with Dr. Porter:

Special thanks to Dr. Patrick Porter, the BrainTap team (including Ms. Erin Miller and Dr. Francisco Cidral), Dr. Roberta Kline, Josh Schueller, Patrick ZiemlerDr. Leslie Montoya and Dr. Robert Bard without whose help this feature could not have been made possible.

Each season, the INTEGRATIVE PAIN HEALERS ALLIANCE nominates inspirational speakers, educators or advocates whose commitment to supporting public health and safety awareness is noticed by a wide spectrum of audiences.  We are proud to announce our latest ROLE MODEL, Mr. Ray Ciancaglini of Geneva New York for his tireless crusade in reaching our youth and sharing his wisdom and experiences about sports related brain injury.

In an exclusive interview with Ray, he shared his launch as an up-and-coming boxing champ, his plight with CONCUSSION and his life-saving educational crusade to his road to advocacy.

"...when you're tough and you think you're tough- that's a boxer's heart that keeps you going. I dealt with the punishment that I was receiving (on and off the ring)- I had no idea that concussion was cumulative." 

I started out getting involved in some local amateur fights- and then by the age of 16, I pretty much had everything going for me. I'd vibe for two golden glove titles and seemed to be on my way. As an amateur, I think I ended up 31 or 33 and nine with four draws. Then I ran into some trouble and I failed an EEG test by the New York State Boxing Commission. They didn't want to give me a boxing license in NYS till I passed that test and went before another hearing, which was a one year suspension along with it. I took the advice of some old-timers who told me to go down south where they didn't have some boxing commissions or these rules and regulations.  They suggested to change my name and then when I came back to retake the test, I'll be sharp as ever- and be on top of my game. But that didn't happen because I carried a lot of symptoms with me. 

The first concussion was mild and it was a little bit of a headache and some fatigue. I got stunned but never been knocked out or knocked down, so that kind of fooled me here. Um, and then one week later in Syracuse, I got my bell rung again for the second time in one week.  Only this time, it was a little bit more serious. And from being a well behaved high honor student, things changed. After that night, I started failing on all my courses, started sleeping excessively, and then I developed an attitude especially toward authority figures, and couldn't explain why. And, uh, this just lasted with me till I retired from boxing in 1974. From here, it got progressively worse. 

"Many athletes do not understand or take seriously the possible repercussions of hiding or playing though a concussion. They sometimes feel that they are invincible or that they are tough enough to gut it out. I was once one of those athletes. For many years, I have been battling Dementia Pugilistica and Parkinson's Syndrome. These progressive disorders are the direct result of my not addressing concussions properly as a young boxer.  Athletes need to be honest about any concussion symptoms with their coaching staff and Athletic Trainer and not attempt to hide a concussion. Through my talks, student athletes will understand the importance of addressing a concussion promptly and properly. I strongly recommend that they follow their school concussion program and their doctor's instructions to ensure a safe return to play. Education is the key."   See:

*Interviewer: Josh Schueller, PT (editorial team @

CONCUSSION ON THE FIELD..."Miami, We Have a Problem!"
OP-ED by: Dr. Michael Gruttadauria
9/25/2022 - The Miami Dolphins prized quarterback Tua Tagovailoa sustained what was clearly a concussion.  He was dazed and in trying to walk off the field, staggered and nearly collapsed.  He was helped off the field and taken into the injury evaluation tent.  You didn’t need to be a neurologist to see that he was shaken from hitting his head on the ground.  Incredibly, the QB cleared the NFL Concussion Protocol and to everyone’s surprise, was allowed to play in the second half of the game.  Many questions were raised about the injury following the game and everyone from the Dolphins coach, to their staff to Tua himself seemed to blame the entire incident on a back injury he said he sustained earlier in the game. (see complete issue)

The underreported cases of bowel permeability to toxins in concussion is likewise mostly anecdotal. The possibility of scanning the gut for increased blood flow following brain trauma may be easily performed as followed as a guideline for evaluation of concussion chronicity. As the bowel activity is regulated by the autonomic nervous system we may apply the same diagnostic endpoints as other physiologic norms.  The response of the microvasculature in the retina provides a functional guideline as to the progression of brain trauma and concussion as measured by blood flow. The application of optical devices and sensors for physical (temperature, respiration, heart rate, blood pressure) chemical (pH, pO2, glucose, lipids, oximetry) and biological (antigens, antibodies, electrolytes, enzymes, inhibitors, metabolites, proteins)  data with imaging (endoscopy, optical tomography, confocal microscopy) adds new classifications of metabolism in the altered state. 

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Introduction: In the continued search for innovative healers and luminaries in the world of wellness, the Integrative Pain Healers Alliance ...