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Dr. Paul W. Wallace
It is considered the most dangerous sport in the world, but in the state of California, it is arguably the safest and last Saturday, the California Boxing Hall of Fame inducted its first ringside physician in Dr. Paul W. Wallace.
Wallace just may very well be the first physician inducted into any boxing hall of fame and his reasons for getting involved in the unregulated sport of professional boxing was to make a difference in regards to safety.
“It is the highest honor that one can get,” Wallace told the sentinel of the award. “It also brings recognition to physicians for medical safety to be addressed.”
Wallace was appointed as a CA Ringside Physician in 1989. He is currently the Chief Ringside Physician of the California State Athletic Commission and serves as Chairman of its Medical Advisory Committee.
He is also the World Boxing Council’s Chairman of the Medical Advisory Board and lectures for the IBF, WBO and is a founding and current board member of the Association of Ringside Physicians and the CA Association of Professional Ringside Physicians.
After serving two terms as Chairman of the Association of Boxing Commission’s Medical Advisory Board, he served as Chief Ringside Physician and Instructor for the World Series of Boxing; USA Boxing International Team Physician and Instructor at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, Colorado Springs.
Moreover Wallace was co-chair of the WBC Medical Congress 1 and 2 (the most attended and comprehensive medical meetings in boxing history) and along with being the Chief Ringside Physician, he served as the Technical Medical Advisor for the reality television series “The Contender” seasons 1 and 2.
During his tenure as a ringside physician he has been instrumental in the implementation of the following medical and safety requirements:
Yearly full physical examination by a licensed physician; Yearly dilated eye examination by an ophthalmologist; HIV, Hepatitis B and C testing; Baseline EKG,
Baseline MRI exam (repeated every 3 years); Pregnancy testing; 30 day and 7 day weigh-in prior to contest; Drug testing for Performance Enhancing Drugs; and Neuropsychological testing.
“I got involved in the sport because it gave me the opportunity to do something productive. There are probably five more ways to suffer a concussion or sustain a serious head injury in Pop Warner or high school football,” Wallace explained.
However, he noted; “We (the sport of boxing) don’t have any national authority, so there are more concussions in the sport of boxing.”
Wallace was inducted in a class that also included former heavyweight champions George Foreman, Lamon Brewster and undefeated light heavyweight champion, Andre Ward.
The retired Veteran who served 22 years in the United States Army (National Guard and Reserve) specializing in Military Trauma and Wound Ballistics was born and raised in Los Angeles.
Wallace attended Cienega Elementary, Audubon Jr. High, Hamilton High School, Los Angeles City College, graduated from U. C. Berkeley with honors, Harvard Medical School, University of Missouri, Kansas City and Oklahoma University; he did his graduate studies in Dermatology and Reconstructive Plastic Surgery at the Charles Drew/Martin Luther King, Jr. Medical Center in Watts.
“The number of deaths per year out number those in the sport of football,” he explained. “In boxing, guys die inside the ring.”
However, The California State Athletic Commission has the safest record of any in the world with only two ring deaths during the past 35 years, compared to Nevada, which had 17.
Wallace considers himself a small component of that safety net, but based on the African American recent honor, he is also a pioneer in a sport that relishes its stars in the ring, but rarely acknowledges those outside of it.