By day, Rick Weinstein, MD, is an orthopedic surgeon at White Plains Hospital. At night, he tends to world-class fighters as a ringside physician, having worked about 1,000 boxing and MMA bouts over 18 years. We spoke with the double-life doc, who, it turns out, can even take a punch himself.
What made you want to become a ringside doctor?
My grandfather was a professional boxer back in the 1920s, and when I was younger, the family folklore got me interested in the sport. It’s exciting: I’m doing hundreds of surgeries a year, and I’m helping people every day, but it’s really fun to do something different at night.
What’s the average fight like for you?
We usually see the boxers a day or two before the fight. We do a full physical and mental examination, including the neurological testing and psychological testing to get a baseline. During the match, there’s a doctor in each corner, and we’ll have a doctor at ringside helping out. If there are any injuries during the fight, we may need to stop it.
How dangerous is boxing?
There’s actually more injuries in cheerleading and football than boxing, and the most dangerous sports are horseback riding, parachute jumping, and mountaineering. In boxing, we examine every single athlete before, during, and after the fight, which doesn’t happen in other sports, like football.
Best story from a fight?
One time, a boxer dislocated his shoulder and popped it back in, but he wasn’t punching with the arm and was clearly hurt. I tried to stop the fight; he said he was fine and ended up punching me in the stomach twice. I stopped the fight, and he actually needed major reconstructive surgery. It didn’t really hurt me, but I felt it for the next half-hour. I didn’t tell anyone, though; it was too embarrassing [laughs].