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Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy: Does fighter have CTE?

Lee Cleveland Updated
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Yesterday, former middleweight boxing champion Jermain Taylor, while already at a lockdown rehab center in Little Rock, allegedly assaulted another man.

An arrest warrant has been issued for the 36 year old Taylor and the alleged victim is being treated at a nearby hospital.

(Image courtesy of HBO)

On August 26, 2014, Taylor was booked after officers say he shot his cousin following an altercation in his Little Rock, AR, home. And five months later, Taylor was arrested and jailed on several counts of aggravated assault and for endangering the welfare of a minor.

In the previous case (cited above), Taylor, during a Little Rock MLK Parade, allegedly snapped, pulling a gun and threatening to shoot a man after one of his championship belts was dropped during a photo op.

“He put the gun upside my head. He shot the gun upside my head," stated the accused victim who, with his wife and two children (1,6), had presumably confronted him to get a photo, according to Fox 16. Fortunately, no one was hit after Taylor allegedly fired three times into the air.

And things only got more bizarre.

Days after the arrest, Taylor, via a cell phone video, apologized for his near-violent outburst while sitting in his bath tub. Moreover, he hinted his anger stemmed from the fact there was no candy at the parade.

"Y'all need to get it together," Taylor said to event organizers ... "Had my little girl out there. Nobody had no candy."

To make matters even more strange, in October and in between his two previous high-profile incidents, a rejuvenated Taylor upset Sam Soliman to claim the IBF Middleweight Title, delivering a solid performance and showing little or no sign of a compromised individual. Nevertheless, after the parade incident in January, Taylor would be stripped of his title and was, via court order, forced to enter rehab in March to deal with apparent mental health issues.

Yesterday's apparent skirmish is the latest in a string of odd incidents marked by unusual behavior.

Does Taylor show signs of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a condition which has impacted so many former football players and pro wrestlers?

On October 17, 2009, Taylor was hospitalized with a severe concussion and short term memory loss after being knocked out by Arthur Abraham after nearly twelve grueling rounds.

An MRI also revealed a minor subdural hematoma, or brain bleed, which can lead to death in more serious cases.

Doctors suggested he never fight again and Taylor walked away from the sport for two years only to return in December 2011.

So, what is CTE?

According to protectthebrain.org, CTE was formerly believed to exist primarily among boxers, and was referred to as dementia pugilistica. It is a progressive degenerative disease which afflicts the brain of people who have suffered repeated concussions and traumatic brain injuries, such as athletes who take part in contact sports, members of the military and others.

The condition persists over a period of years or decades and is the result of traumatic impacts to the cranium. Eventually, the brain of an individual who suffers from chronic traumatic encephalopathy gradually deteriorates and will over time end up losing mass.

Several years ago. former football star Junior Seau committed suicide with a self-inflicted gunshot and it was subsequently determined the linebacker suffered from severe depression likely due to CTE.

But not everyone is convinced Taylor's problems are so serious and his attorney, Christian Alexander, basically told TMZ yesterday's incident was much ado about nothing and hinted the altercation would not have happened if not for Jermain's high public profile.

While long-term fighting and an accumulation of violent blows to the head increases one's chances of suffering concussions which can lead to dementia and other brain abnomalities, there's no certainty a fighter will suffer a concussion and/or serious brain damage, even after sustained, repeated shots to the head.

The professional career of boxing legend Archie Moore spanned nearly 30 years and 219 fights. Nonetheless, he was sharp and witty into his late 70s and, as a trainer, even helped Big George Foreman regain the heavyweight title at the age of 45. And he is just one of many fighters who seemed to have fought forerver yet still appeared lucid and witty, even at an advanced age.


CTE Symptoms (Courtesy CVS)

  • Depression, including feeling suicidal
  • Paranoia
  • Aggression
  • Apathy
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Impulsiveness
  • Poor concentration
  • Memory problems
  • Confusion
  • Poor judgment
  • Tremor
  • Muscle twitching
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