MANILA, Philippines -- The Games and Amusements Board (GAB) and the Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday announced that they are extending a joint agreement that grants free medical assistance to professional boxers, MMA fighters, and Muay Thai fighters.
Administrative Order No. 2017-002 seeks to ensure the overall health and welfare of the fighters. The DOH, through Memorandum 2020-0445 signed by Secretary Francisco Duque III, approved the request of GAB to extend the validity of the agreement until December 31, 2020 or earlier should a new MOA come into effect.
The memorandum of agreement initially expired on August 25.
"Upon the request of GAB due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic to their professional careers, the 28 selected DOH hospitals, 3 specialty hospitals, and other pertinent DOH offices are directed to continue the provision of free medical services to boxing and MMA professionals," Duque said in the DOH memorandum.
"As the national agency tasked with the regulation and supervision of professional boxing and other contact sports in the country, we are grateful to DOH for this assistance," GAB chairman Baham Mitra said.
As per the existing requirements of GAB's boxing and other contact sports division, combat sports athletes are required to undergo and pass a complete medical examination administered by the GAB Medical Section, prior to the approval or renewal of their boxing licenses.
"Considering that the mandatory diagnostic, medical, and neurological tests proved to be costly for many GAB licensees, this extension is indeed a big help to our pro boxers, MMA and Muay Thai fighters, especially during these difficult times," said Mitra.
Meanwhile, chairman Mitra and commissioners Ed Trinidad and Mar Masanguid also sought assistance of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) last April to include professional boxers, MMA and Muay Thai fighters, and their trainers and ring officials in the DSWD Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation program.