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BOXING WORLD REACTS TO NEWS OF HIV POSITIVE TOMMY MORRISON
Published February 13, 1996
The news that heavyweight Tommy Morrison has tested HIV positive has the boxing world taking a look at the way the disease -- and other medical issues -- are handled. MEDICAL WARNINGS: Dr. Russell Stumacher, Chief of Infectious Disease at Philadelphia's Graduate Hospital, said because of the amount of bleeding and close contact, the chances of transmitting HIV in boxing is "significantly greater" than in other sports like basketball, and said even front-row boxing patrons could be at risk ("SportsCenter, ESPN, 2/12). Dr. Jonathan Zenilman, of Johns Hopkins, notes there is no data available on the transmission of the virus in an athletic setting. But he added, "Boxing creates a problem because there's so much blood splashing about." Morrison was tested before a fight in NV, the only major boxing state that requires an HIV test. Testing is required nationwide in Britain. NJ State Boxing Commissioner Larry Hazzard said yesterday, while he is forbidden to test boxers under the state's confidentiality laws, he started the practice some years ago of requiring refs and cornermen to wear rubber gloves (Gerald Eskenazi, N.Y. TIMES, 2/13). OR, WA and AZ are the other states requiring testing (WASHINGTON TIMES, 2/13). CA Athletic Commission Chair Bill Eastman said he has been trying to get legislation passed for three years requiring HIV tests, but "every time it comes up, the politicians scatter like cockroaches under a light" (L.A. TIMES, 2/13). In Boston, Richard Knox notes boxing commissions can require pre-match HIV tests for pros, but that does not address the risks to sparring outside official matches or to amateurs (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/13). RING REAX: Bob Arum: "Certain groups, like for example the gay rights groups, would oppose testing in boxing for fighters for the HIV virus. That's insane" ("Sports Tonight," CNN, 2/12). George Foreman, citing "lifestyles" as a reason HIV could spread in boxing: "The ring is safe, really. But it's what's going on outside the ring that we have to make safer" ("SportsCenter," 2/12).