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Marino pens piece for International Herald Tribune

By Bradley West '13
January 21, 2013

In an opinion piece in the International Herald Tribune, St. Olaf College Professor of Philosophy Gordon Marino honors the 71st birthday of boxer Muhammad Ali by discussing chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the neurological disorder from which Ali has been suffering for decades.

Marino, who is known to be as passionate about 19th century philosophers as he is about boxing, talks about the long-term damage that comes from years of taking blows to the head.

In the piece, Marino argues that researchers and boxing officials must work to understand and address the connection between boxing and CTE, which is similar to Alzheimer's and Parkinson's and which has afflicted scores of boxers and other athletes.

"In the past, the governing bodies of the bruising game have tweaked rules to protect combatants; for example, championship bouts have been shortened from 15 to 12 rounds," Marino writes.  "However, more needs to be done to shield these modern-day gladiators from their craft and courage."

Marino highlights one ongoing study that hopes to discover the earliest warning signs of the disorder and to understand the numerous factors that lead some fighters to suffer from CTE while others remain healthy. He hopes that more timely diagnoses will encourage more boxers to retire from the ring when their neurological health is at risk.

"It is hard to say, but perhaps if Ali could have been shown some of the objective evidence of the havoc going on behind his eyes, he might have been convinced to put his gloves on a nail," Marino writes.

Contact Kari VanDerVeen at 507-786-3970 or