Book Review: Boxing: Medical Aspects
Book Review: Boxing: Medical Aspects
By Antonio Santiago, Doghouse Boxing (July 30, 2012) Doghouse Boxing
Boxing Medical Aspects
By Antonio Santiago, Doghouse Boxing. - I will try to make some personal history today, by writing three articles in one night. One of them is this one, about a huge, medical book that has to do with boxing. It really is a long overdue review, but I have to be honest with you: the book is so huge that, like in the case of the Boxing: A Worldwide Record of Bouts and Fighters book review, I will have to write the review before finishing reading the book. Today’s title is Boxing: Medical Aspects (2003, Elsevier Science-Academic Press, by Dr. Friedrich Unterharnscheidt and his wife, Dr. Julia Taylor-Unterharnscheidt, ISBN 0-12-709130-0). Academic Press is a worldwide publisher that has offices in Amsterdam, Holland; Boston, New York, San Diego and San Francisco, United States; London and Oxford, England; Paris, France; Singapore, Singapore; Sydney, Australia; and Tokyo, Japan. And as for the writers of the book, I thought boxer last names such as Sirimongool or something like that was hard to spell! Heck, even former two time world champion Katsuo Tokashiki’s last name is easy for a kindergartener to spell compared to the Drs. Last name!!

The writers of this book promise us that the book is not a way for them to dissuade readers from becoming boxers, but rather a tool to inform those thinking about it about the risks and benefits of choosing such a career. The book then becomes like a little voice in our collective consciences. Even if we as fans only are the ones reading it. My old friend and fellow Puerto Rican boxing writer, George Diaz-Smith, told me once that unfortunately, no device to protect the brain during a boxing fight has yet been invented. Sadly, this is a true situation and one of the reasons I find this book so interesting.

Having known so many of the fighters who I viewed as examples to follow when I was growing up and some of the modern ones I continue to view as good social examples, I hope that I will see the day when boxing can be completely safe for everyone, and when those who suffer from different conditions that boxing has been blamed for, like Bobby Chacon, Wilfred Benitez and Muhammad Ali, will have those severe atrophies reversed. This book could be a tool towards that.    

Now, when it comes down to medical terms, I am a lay person like most of us. I do not know, say, the difference between Bronchitis and Pneumonia, unless I am actually the one affected, in which case then I can tell you which one hurts more, but if I was going to diagnose someone else with one of the two, I could not. Here in this book, however, I can read about encephalopathy, retrograde amnesia, oculo-cardiac reflex mechanisms and such. One can also learn about things we did not know we had, such as the Lentiform nucleus. Say what? You must be asking…well, the Lentiform nucleus is a part of our brain that is located to the right bottom corner of the brain’s frontal section. I only know that because the book is opened right now, next to me, on page 26. It says so there, and the thing is illustrated.

That’s the other thing about the book, that for illustrations, it sure beats the hell out’ a lot of my favorite boxing magazines!! It has so many great boxing action photos, like my favorite one of all time, with Rocky Marciano landing his “Susie Q” to Jersey Joe Walcott’s jaw, the punch that won Rocky the world Heavyweight title in their first fight. It also has Marciano distorting Keene Simmons’ face, Henry Cooper’s face after being ripped apart by Muhammad Ali and about 100 other fight photos. It also has many photos of x-rays taken to brain patients, including boxers, giving us an insight into that brain injury looks like inside. That is, if you have a strong stomach and are willing to look at those in order to learn a bit more! There are also charts about injuries, age or rounds after they are seen more commonly among boxers, and other interesting information.

One no-no that I have to report, however, is the inclusion of one forgotten doctors’ comment that boxers have false courage. This is absolutely absurd from that doctor’s part, considering the risks boxers take. That doctor who said that, never saw only the head of a person standing in front of him. He never went into a place knowing he could wake up without remembering what happened. How could then he say that and his quote be included in this book is beyond me. To me, the sports that involve the most courage are boxing, auto racing, American football, baseball and hockey. You do not try to hit a ball that is coming at 95 miles per hour towards your face if you have no courage. And you do not step in a ring, and try to duck punches from someone else if you have no courage either.

Overall, I recommend this book to fans, and SPECIALLY, to future boxers, and to corner men. This is a book that makes you analyze everything about the sport we like, and why we like it.

Please send all Questions and comments to Antonio at

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