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The San Francisco Examiner from San Francisco, California • Page 240
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The San Francisco Examiner from San Francisco, California • Page 240

San Francisco, California
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Y7 Duk Koo Kim's fatal brain injury has raised some familiar questions about the hazards of the ring Signals from the brain stem, near the base of the skull, stimulate higher brain centers to maintain consciousness by Denise Grady- pjasars Palace, Lu Vaa, Nvm- I jf hi 13: It was the 13th round of the title Viy fight between World Boxing Association lightweight champion Ray (Boom Boom) Mancini and South Korean challenger Duk Koo Kim. They had been well matched, and at the end of the tenth round most experts had scored the fight even. But Mancini was beginning to dominate, and during the 13th round he landed a barrage of three dozen unanswered punches. Somehow, Kim stayed on his feet. But as the 14th round began, he appeared exhausted. Mancini moved in: a weak left hook, a powerful right to the jaw, another left, and finally, a devastating right, again to the point of the jaw. Once those last blows connected, doctors can now say, Kim had no more than 10 percent chance of Having collapsed into the referee's arms after trying to regain his feet, Kim was taken to nearby Desert Springs Hospital. There, a CT scan of the brain revealed that he had sustained a severe injury: A blood vessel had burst inside his head, pouring blood into the small space between the brain arid its tough outer membrane, the dura. The growing pool of blood, known as an acute subdural hematoma, was exerting deadly pressure on Kim's brain, and his only hope for survival was an operation. Still, his chances were slim; this injury is fatal 90 percent of the time. Wasting no time, neurosurgeon Lonnie Ham-margren operated, removing a blood clot that had a volume of 100 cubic centimeters just under half a cup. Hammargren found that the bleeding was fresh, which meant that Kim had not been hurt before the fight, and it was plain to the surgeon that the rupture had been caused not by the flurry of blows in the final rounds but by "one tremendous punch to the head." Hammargren emerged from the operating room suspecting that Kim would die. "His brain had been shifted and bruised so badly," he says, that it swelled uncontrollably, pinching off its blood supply which killed more brain cells. The doctor was right. Electroencephalograms taken after the operation showed no brain-wave activity, and in accordance with Nevada law Kim was declared legally dead on November 17. The next day the respirator that had sustained him for five days was turned off. Minutes later, his heart stopped. Denise Grady is a staff writer for Discover Magazine. This article is from Discover. e1982 Time Inc. All rights reserved. A sharp right to the jaw snaps the head back; the brain shifts, and pressure on the brain stem disrupts its activity Duk Koo Kim in his last fight, Las Vegas, November 13, 1982 Worldwide, Duk Koo Kim was the sixth fighter to die from boxing injuries in 1982 and the 353rd since 1945; most, like him, died from head injuries. His death, like every widely publicized ring fatality, stirred up some familiar arguments. Those who see no sport in two men punching each other called for a ban, while most fans and people professionally involved with boxing insisted that prizefighters know the risks and have the right to take them. Somewhere in the middle were those who think a ban is unrealistic but suspect that boxing can be made safer by regulations that take into account the fragility of the human brain, the consequences of a punch to the head and the fatigue that in the later rounds of a fight can sap an athlete's ability to protect himself. A prizefighter's wallop can land with a force of 1000 pounds, according to James McElhaney, a biomechanics expert at Duke University. Such a blow can momentarily deform the skull, snap the head back or twist it violently. The brain then sloshes around inside the head like the yolk inside a raw egg. Nerve cells and blood vessels may be twisted, stretched, ruptured, cut by bony projections in the skull or bruised from slamming up against it. Like any other part of the body, the brain swells in response to injury; the danger arises because there is little room for expansion. And once brain tissue is lost, it is lost forever; the cells do not regenerate. When a blow to the head causes a brief loss of The next punch, a left, twists the head. Torsion short-circuits the brain stem, ond the fighter is knocked out 12 THIS -WORLD, JANUARY 9. 1983

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