THE FIGHTER AND DEPRESSION
Depression. Webster’s New World Dictionary defines it as 1) a hollow or low place. 2) low spirits; dejection. 3)
a decrease in force, activity, etc.
WebMDHealth defines depression as “... a mood disorder that causes symptoms such as low energy, prolonged sadness
or irritability, and lack of interest in daily activities. Depression is a medical condition, not a character flaw or weakness.”
Depression affects amateur and professional fighters. Fighters suffer from it after losses in fights, contract negotiations,
relations with handlers, injuries, family and the list goes on.
A recent, but extreme case of depression was brought to our attention when up and coming Philadelphia boxer Najal Turpin,
23 years old and one of the 16 contestants on the NBC reality show “The Contender” shot himself in an apparent
suicide in February.
Percy Custus, Turpin’s Manager, said he was going to visit Turpin’s girlfriend’s house the day of the
shooting, to pick up Turpin and take him to the Poconos to help train another boxer, Yusef Mack, who was preparing for an
upcoming fight. Mr. Custus said that he wanted to talk to Najal about some of his personal problems, which the fighter had
on his mind. Mr. Custus, explained that Najal did not fight over a year with the taping of “The Contender” and
he was anxious to start back fighting. But on his return to Philadelphia, he could not resume competing because he had signed
a contract that had a clause in it stating that the participants could not resume their careers until after the show had run
its course, which will be in May. The boxers were compensated and Turpin received $800.00 weekly from the producers.
Custus tried to keep Turpin busy by having him spar with as many boxers he could find. But Najal wanted to compete. Najal’s
fight record was 11-1, 8 KOs.
In the fight world depression is common.
George Foreman said on the Comcast Cable Sports Show, “The Best Damn Sports Show,“ when he fought Muhammad
Ali, he was frightened. When Ali defeated him Foreman went into a depression which led him into serving the Lord.
And everyone is familiar with Mike Tyson’s history with mental illness.
If you are concerned in your gym or dojo that one of your fighters are suffering from depression, seek help. Many people
with depression do not seek treatment because they are embarrassed or think they will get over it on their own.
The cause of depression is not entirely clear. It is thought to be caused by an imbalance of certain brain chemicals called
neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are chemicals produced by the nerve cells in the brain that send messages back and forth
across the space between the cells (synapse).
The neurotransmitters believed to play a role in mental functioning are serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, and gamma-aminobutyric
acid (GABA). When the normal balance of these neurotransmitters is upset, headache, depression, or other mental health problems
Depression seems to run in families and may be triggered by stressful events and lack of social support and it tends to
Gina Shaw wrote in WebMDHealth, “Depression: His Part 1, Men Get Angry, Not Sad”.
“Although studies show that depression is more than twice as prevalent in women as in men, Some experts feel that
men with depression may be seriously underdiagnosed. Why? Their Symptoms aren’t necessarily what we expect. ‘Some
of us believe that men are just showing depression differently,’ says Fredric Rabinowitz, PhD, the University of Redlands,
who with University of Iowa psychologist Sam Cochran has written ‘Men and Depression and Deepening’ Psychotherapy
“...men’s symptoms of depression can be misleading, because they often don’t involve crying or feeling
sad. Frequently, male depression first shows up in the physical symptoms, such as headaches, gastrointestinal distress, and
sexual dysfunction. Other symptoms can include:
Irritability, anger and lashing out
Inability to function at the office
Interrupted sleep patterns
Reluctance to seek treatment can be dangerous, and even deadly. Men with depression commit suicide at much higher rates
than women, although more women attempt it. And depression has been linked to heart problems--men with depression are more
than twice as likely to develop coronary heart disease than those who are not depressive.
What you should do if some of the symptoms described before sound familiar, and you’re concerned about depression?
First, realize that depression is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s nothing you’ve ‘done wrong’. Scientists
now believe that clinical depression sterns from a combination of genetic, biochemical, and environmental factors, most of
which you’ve had no control over.
See your primary care doctor and describe your symptoms. ‘More and more primary care doctors are being trained to
recognize symptoms of depression,’ says (Melodie) Morgan-Minott (Northeastern Ohio University College of Medicine.)
Your doctor can either refer you to a psychiatrist or psychologist. Mention to him or her that you are wondering about depression.
Consider both medicine and medication. ‘Typically men will go to their family physician privately and get antidepressant.
But without having therapy at the same time, some of the same patterns just continue,’ says Rabinowitz. Most current
research indicates that while both anti-depressant medications and therapy are effective in combating depression, the most
potent treatment combines the two.”
Sources-Reality Boxer Shocker-”Contender” An Apparent Suicide by Tim Smith, Daily New Sports Writer.
WebMD Health Authors.
Melodie Morgan-Minott, MD, Northeastern Ohio University College of Medicine.
Frederic Rabinowitz, PhD, University of Redlands.
Steven Iparl, manager of website, http:// www.maledepression.com.