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List of Articles by Joaquin Henson



Boxers get lift from GAB, DOH

By Joaquin Henson
PhilBoxing.com
24 Jul 2017


Mitra.

GAB chairman Abraham Mitra said the other day he hopes to finalize a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Health (DOH) soon in assuring free medical benefits for the country’s 1,054 professional boxers while sparing the fighters the cost of submitting a mandatory CT-Scan to renew their licenses on a yearly basis.

Mitra will sit down with the DOH staff in what he called a finalization meeting tomorrow. The partnership between the two government agencies was broached when DOH secretary Paulyn Ubial attended the third Philippine Boxing Convention organized by GAB in Davao City last May. Ubial promised to provide free medical check-ups, including CT-Scans and MRIs if necessary, and Philhealth coverage for fighters all over the country, using the network of regional government-owned hospitals when she spoke at the three-day convention.

“We’re fortunate that Secretary Ubial has a heart for sports,” said Mitra. “She believes in the value of being physically and mentally fit. From what we know, she sets aside one to two hours for exercise every day either early in the morning or late at night so as not to disrupt her busy day schedule.”

At the moment, GAB requires professional boxers to submit to a medical examination with a required CT-Scan every year in renewing their licenses. Fight managers usually advance the payment for the examination subject to deduction from a boxer’s future purse. A CT-Scan costs anywhere between P1,200 to P2,000, including the CD or a copy of the film.

GAB chief medical officer Dr. Radentor Viernes recently uncovered a widespread anomaly where fighters submitted fake CT-Scans. Mitra confirmed that 119 boxers were guilty of deceit and only 30 have been stricken off the blacklist after resubmitting genuine CT-Scans. It was found out that a fixer has made it a business to arrange CT-Scans without personal appearance for a fee of P800, using a common template fished out of the files of clinics in Paranaque and Lipa.

“The fighters are the victims,” said Mitra. “Dr. Viernes uncovered the anomaly when CT-Scans of several fighters showed the same serial number. We sent an investigative team to the clinics where the CT-Scans were supposed to have been done and found out the fighters never went to the clinics. We’ve told the fighters that their licenses will be renewed if they resubmit genuine CT-Scans with no negative findings.”

Mitra said the DOH benefit will go a long way in not only protecting the fighters’ safety but also to save on costs. “Secretary Ubial will make available the government’s network of regional and well-equipped provincial hospitals,” he said.

“We’ll provide a list of licensed boxers eligible for the medical check-ups. CT-Scans will no longer be mandatory as Secretary Ubial suggested. They will only be required if the medical check-ups reveal something that needs to go through a CT-Scan or even an MRI. All that will be free.” Mitra said Secretary Ubial will make the announcement revealing the details of the benefits once the MOU is finalized.

Aside from the DOH benefit, Mitra said he hopes to offer health insurance for boxers with a coverage of about P40,000. “We’ll go through government procedures in bidding out the insurance coverage,” he said. “It’s difficult for insurance companies to provide coverage for boxers because of the high-risk nature of the sport. But we’ve recently received an offer from an insurance broker and we want to push through with this additional benefit at a minimal cost for the coverage.”

Mitra said he had a consultative meeting with several boxing stakeholders at the GAB office in Makati last week to discuss policy matters. “We explained the necessity of keeping the GAB limit of requiring each boxer a 45-day rest period after every fight,” he said. “There was a proposal to bring it down to 30 days if a fighter scores an early KO and has an easy fight. But it’s difficult to make exceptions which are subject to review. We’re also sticking with our rule of a mandatory 60-day rest if a fighter loses by a knockout from a body blow and a mandatory 90-day rest if a fighter loses by a knockout from a head blow.”

Mitra said he will study the proposal to relax the GAB requirement of a fighter to win two of his last three fights before receiving clearance to engage in a bout abroad. “It was proposed to make it two wins in the last five fights but that was rejected,” he said. “What seems to be reasonable is the proposal to make it three wins in the last five fights with a win in at least the last two fights. We’ll study the matter more closely before making a decision. We’re open to suggestions from stakeholders and we want to continue regular dialogues so we can exchange ideas on how to improve the state of Philippine boxing.”


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