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Paul Gallen admits 'it's time to stop' boxing over brain damage fears

Max Sherry

| Last updated 

Paul Gallen admits 'it's time to stop' boxing over brain damage fears

Paul Gallen, one of the hardest individuals Australia has ever produced, admits he holds grave fears about getting brain damage.

The former rugby league player-turned-boxer now says "it's time to stop" and plans on hanging up the gloves for good to avoid developing chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

"I have to get out of this sport before I suffer major brain damage,' Gallen told News Corp.


"I have no doubt I have some damage, but hopefully I don't cop too much.

"It's funny, I've never ever thought about brain damage until the past six months. I have never worried about it. I have never considered it. But suddenly it has hit me.

"I look at my kids and I want to be around for a long time to be a good dad to them.

"We don't know if you have CTE until you are dead, but I know a lot of people in boxing in their 40s and 50s – they are a bit slower mentally and physically and I can't be that person with the media roles I have.


"There are always athletes who fall victim to Alzheimers and CTE, but people who have never played contact sport in their life can also have the same problems.

"The reality is what I have done over 20 years, copping the hits I have in football and boxing, could make me more susceptible to brain damage or CTE.

"It's time to stop."

Credit: Supplied/NRL
Credit: Supplied/NRL

The Cronulla Sharks legend has become a well-established boxer ever since retiring from rugby league in 2019.

A tough-tackler on the footy field, G-Train arguably hits even harder inside the ring and has competed against combat sports greats such as Mark Hunt, Lucas Browne and Justis Huni.

Now the 41-year-old is poised to become the first Australian boxer in 132 years to take on two opponents on the same night when he fights Justin Hodges and Ben Hannant later this week.

But despite being a big draw Down Under, Gallen is now putting his health first and hopes to leave the fight game soon, recognising the damage he has taken throughout his cross-code career.


"I'm over sparring," he added.

"I'm really ready for the end to be honest. I will be relieved when it's all over in a few months.

"I really enjoy the fitness work, and the weights, but I don't want to spar anymore. I don't want the damage.

"I have been told any impact hard enough to break an egg can cause damage to your brain.


"Think about how many times you get punched in the head in a sparring session, a boxing ring or the heavy hits you cop on a football field.

"I have never had a concern about brain damage until now. I guess it's a sign of getting old, maturity and thinking you aren't invincible.

"My brain function is something I need to be careful of. I talk for a living in the media and on the radio. What happens in five years time if I start stuttering and not remembering things?

"That's something I have to be a bit careful of.

"Generally, as you get older in boxing, you get found out by a younger bloke like Justis Huni, but thankfully Ben Hannant and Justin Hodges are just as old as me.

"It would be embarrassing to lose to two blokes who can't fight, so I'll make sure I'm fit and ready, but I won't miss the sparring."

Featured Image Credit: Supplied/NRL

Topics: Australia, Boxing, Rugby League, NRL, Paul Gallen, Cronulla Sharks

Max Sherry
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