Anthony Joshua's trainer clarifies concussion comments after coming under fire

Rob McCracken initially suggested he allowed his fighter to continue while concussed.

Anthony Joshua with trainer Rob McCracken.
Anthony Joshua with trainer Rob McCracken.
Image: Peter Byrne

ANTHONY JOSHUA’S TRAINER has clarified controversial recent remarks in the wake of receiving heavy criticism.

Rob McCracken initially suggested he knew his fighter was concussed during his shock defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr last June.

Joshua was criticised for his sub-par performance in the wake of the loss, but McCracken stated that concussion was a factor in the bout.

He told a BBC Radio 5 Live podcast: “I know him better than all these experts who virtually don’t know him or have met him once or twice so I knew he was concussed and I’m trying to get him through a few more rounds, one round at a time, and see where he’s at.

“‘Can he recover? Can he get back into this?’

“But he was glazy-eyed from when he got caught with that initial shot in round three and he carried that with him up until the end.

“It’s a nightmare situation, pro boxing is deadly and you’re in the corner with a heavyweight not responding as he should.”

During the bout, Joshua could be heard asking his trainer “what round is it?” and “why am I feeling like this?” while getting attended to in between rounds.

Luke Griggs, deputy chief executive of the brain injury charity Headway, was among those to criticise McCracken following his comments.

“It’s a shocking admission, but it’s highly unlikely that this is an isolated incident,” he said.

“Trainers have a duty of care to their boxers and it seems clear that Anthony Joshua’s trainer’s sole priority was winning that fight, not protecting the fighter from a potentially fatal injury.

“We know once you’ve had a concussion, any subsequent blow can exacerbate the damage. You are most at risk of having a particularly serious or fatal brain injury if the brain has already been damaged and a concussion has already been sustained.

“In that point, he was particularly vulnerable to a more serious injury. One wonders how many deaths in the ring over the years have resulted from a win-at-all-costs mentality.”

He continued: “In every other major sport, concussion protocols state that once a concussion has been suspected, the player must be removed and not allowed to return.

Every blow to the head delivered by a fit, strong, technically gifted boxer has the potential to cause a concussion.

“In addition, you’ve got boxers who are praised for their bravery. In Tyson Fury’s last fight, he was praised for somehow defying a count and we’re praising that. We’re celebrating the fact that he beat the count.

“In that time, the referee is tasked with deciding whether or not they are fit to continue.

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“You are basically asking the referee to conduct an impromptu concussion assessment with all these people watching, in too short a period of time and when they are not qualified to do so.

“You seem them staggering around on their feet and the referee says ‘show me your strength in your gloves’. But they’re staggering!

“Concussion protocols in boxing are not worth the paper they are written on.”

McCracken has since clarified his controversial remarks in a statement, saying: “In professional boxing, fighters inevitably take punches and have difficult rounds and when they come back to the corner, it is your job as a coach to make a quick assessment of the situation. 

There is no formal concussion protocol where the Doctor steps in to assess the boxer so you have to use your experience as a coach and your knowledge of the person to make a decision on whether you think they can recover.

“I have had this a number of times in my career in professional boxing where boxers have recovered from a difficult round to go on and win the fight. I have also pulled boxers out of fights because I knew it was not in their interests to continue.

“I am not a Doctor and it may be that ‘concussed’ is not the right term to have used, but the health of all boxers I work with is of paramount importance to me and I have always used my judgement and experience to do what is right for them.”

With the warm-up games out of the way, Murray, Bernard and Gavan discuss the renewed cause for optimism, impressive individual player form, and a potential quarter-final versus either South Africa or New Zealand.

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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