We present a case series of eight former amateur or professional boxers, all of Pacific background and all living in South Auckland, New Zealand, seven of whom present with early…
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We found an unusually large number of Samoan and Tongan former boxers in South Auckland who were suffering from early onset (40 and 50 years of age) dementia. When we looked into their histories, we found that most of had drunk heavily in their youth and also had other risk factors for dementia such as diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol. We think that a combination of head injuries from boxing as well as these other risk factors puts young Pacific boxers at increased risk of developing early onset dementia. Sports physicians should warn young Pacific boxers about this risk.
To describe the biopsychosocial characteristics of a series of Pacific men living in South Auckland with a history of boxing presenting with early onset dementia. We discuss the history of boxing in Pacific people and the possibility of increased risk of early onset dementia in New Zealand Pacific men compared to their European counterparts.
We reviewed the files of Pacific men with a history of amateur or professional boxing who presented to our memory and older adult mental health services with early onset dementia over a 45-month period. We gathered relevant information to construct a biopsychosocial paradigm as possible explanation of this phenomenon.
We identified a series of eight New Zealand Pacific men with early onset dementia and with a history of boxing. Alcohol was a contributing factor in seven of the eight cases, and vascular risk factors in five.
Historical, cultural and socio-economic factors underpin the attraction of some Pacific men to boxing as a sport. Given that New Zealand Pacific peoples may have an earlier onset of dementia than their European counterparts, further research is required to establish whether boxing is a contributory factor. Sports physicians should advise young New Zealand Pacific boxers about the long-term risks associated with their sport.