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April 23, 2014

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Boxing, MMA meet to support head injury research

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J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, once a Nevada Gaming Commission official, joins boxing executives during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014, to support a study by professional fighters about brain damage and trauma suffered by boxers.

WASHINGTON — Two former boxers, Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Harry Reid, D-Nev., welcomed representatives of the world's boxing and mixed martial arts organizations on Tuesday to announce support for a study to understand the effects of repeated blows to the head.

Bringing together the rival bodies of combat sports is no small feat. But they've committed $600,000 to the Cleveland Clinic's Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.

"These athletes are here in support of their fellow athletes because they've seen the results," McCain said. "If we don't do this, I'm afraid that support for these incredible, entertaining sports will wane on the part of the American people."

Former middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins, who is still active at age 49, said his participation was important, "while I've got the voice, while I've got the knowledge of how important it is."

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