Friday marks a year when the boxing community got word about the passing of Patrick Day. The 27-year old welterweight from Freeport Long Island was knocked down three times in a bout against Charles Conwell in a USBA title bout that was streamed live on the DAZN Network.
The last knockdown proved to be fatal as Day’s head bounced on the canvas.
And the impact of those knockdowns caused Patrick Day his life. He sustained a traumatic brian injury and became the fourth fighter who passed away last year due to a traumatic injury to the brain.
A year later, and with Patrick Day always in our thoughts, boxing has continued. Fighters during a global pandemic are conscious of the risks when they step through the ropes and medical authorities continue to seek improvements to prevent another tragedy.
But they continue to look at that Partick Day aftermath. They are continuing to learn and prevent another tragedy in the ring with improved procedures for the care of fighters before and after a fight.
In the case of Patrick Day, the procedures were followed. The pre-fight physicals, brain scans, and procedures followed many days prior to the scheduled encounter with Conwell. The proper medical protocols in place to get approval before fight night.
Conwell, last week, a year almost to the date of that tragic fight, returned to the ring and recorded a knockout on a PBC/FS1 telecast from the Mohegan Sun up in Connecticut. The Name of Patrick Day was a reminder to all when Conwell got in the ring.
You see, we will never forget Patrick Day. His talent as a fighter was one thing. Outside the ring, Day was the example of a rising talent and had all the qualities to become a champion. He was also an example of many aspiring fighters that walk in the gym and take a risk.
He was an example of how boxing is a sport that leads to success and a diversion to the troubles that are outside the many doors of boxing gyms around inner city communities.
But a year later, as boxing continues, the questions of medical protocols are always on the agenda. How can we get better and prevent another Patrick Day tragedy? For many the answers are always in the memory of Patrick Day.
The answers are also in memory of 500 other pro fighters who have lost their lives since boxing became recognized in 1884 and many have gone after sustaining injuries to the brain.
The sanctioning bodies of state athletic commissions, or control boards, those that provide proper medical protocols, continue to make improvements. But the best ringside physicians and standby paramedics at times are faulted for not acting quick enough.
And a referee is at fault for not stopping a fight at the right time.
Again there are risks for a fighter because boxing is that type of sport. There are punches to the head and a vicious knockdown is immediate concern.
Go back a year ago. Lou DiBella, longtime promoter and boxing executive, instrumental in the career of Patrick Day, said:
“It becomes very difficult to explain or justify the dangers of boxing at a time like this. This is not a time where edicts of pronouncements are appropriate or the answers are readily available. It is, however, a time for a call to action. While we don’t have the answer, we certainly know many of the questions, have the means to answer and the opportunity to respond responsibly and accordingly and make boxing safer for all who participate.”
Fighters will say they are too strong for their own good. They say there is that brave mentality and that is difficult to take away. They know there is that risk. Patrick Day also knew a year ago there was that risk.
But the implications of an untimely death are hard to understand for family and friends. Also, it is still difficult for Joe Higgins who was in the corner as Day’s longtime trainer and mentor. A year later, Higgins still struggles with the aftermath.
A year later the question about a ring canvas was answered, inspected as they all are before a fight. It was capable and able to handle a fighter who hit the canvas.
But that was a fatal fall on a canvas last year at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago. And there is a probability that more will hit the canvas a wrong way and sustain an injury. Remember this is boxing and a sport that has risks. A fighter has to always know where to look and where to start when the bell rings.
And a year later, always remember Patrick Day. He was the fighter like many who took a risk and decided that boxing was the right route.
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