New York Fight

July 31, 2008

M.M.A.’s Macho Badge of Honor: Deformed Ears (NY Times Article)

From The New York Times

By Michael Brick

published on July, 31 2008

Is your son into mixed martial arts? Check his ears.

Once an outlaw sport derided for its brutality, the prizefighting style known as mixed martial arts or ultimate fighting has toned down its act to gain government approval, a loyal television audience and hundreds of gyms training youngsters across the country. Now, to herald its full arrival, mixed martial arts has claimed a signature injury — cauliflower ear.

A deformity initiated by repetitive trauma, cauliflower ear can crumple an outer ear to a misshapen shell.

Unfazed by the prospect of living life as a walking what’s-grosser-than-gross joke, a nationwide corps of professional fighters, amateur enthusiasts and teenagers have taken to leaving their ears untreated or self-treated, wearing their shriveled, hardened waxen auricles as badges of honor.

“It’s definitely part of the culture,” said Dr. John H. Park, a physical therapist in Rockville, Md., who specializes in treating M.M.A. participants. “They say, ‘Chicks dig that stuff because they know you’re a fighter.’ “

A familiar chasm separates what women dig from what dudes imagine women dig. But for mixed martial arts, a combination of boxing, wrestling and jiu-jitsu that has found favor among young men, cauliflower ear has assumed a place alongside such evocative conditions as torn elbow ligaments in pitchers, knee tendinitis in marathon runners and torn anterior cruciate ligaments in female basketball players.

In gym locker rooms and online discussion forums, teenage boys trade advice on ways to gain that telltale look.

“It’s man’s ear,” said Nisar Loynab, 15, who trains at Capital Jiu-Jitsu in Alexandria, Va. “When you get cauliflower, you’re really a man.”

Nisar, a 10th-grader who has lost weight and gained an incentive to make good grades through his pursuit of mixed martial arts, said his sore ears had yet to calcify. By leaving them untreated, he hopes to cultivate the appearance of more seasoned fighters, like his father.

His father, Abubakr Loynab, 43, who trains at the same gym, said he expected Nisar to develop the ailment.

“In my family, we’ve had boxers and stuff, and it’s just one way you toughen up the kid,” Loynab said. “There’s some people in here that he looks up to. He’ll go up and show them, ‘Look, I’m starting to get the cauliflower ear.’

Read the rest here

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