'Starting to worry': Paul Gallen's scary admission about head knocks

·4-min read
Paul Gallen is seen here during a boxing training session at a Sydney gym.
Paul Gallen admits he's concerned about all the current discussions around concussion and CTE. Pic: Getty

Rugby league great-turned professional boxer Paul Gallen has opened up about his concerns around concussion and the potential long-term effects on his own health.

The issue has been thrust into the spotlight in the NRL this season, with last weekend's Magic Round ushering in a major crackdown on dangerous contact with the head that saw three players sent off, 14 sin-binned and 24 placed on report.

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Cronulla Sharks legend Gallen played 348 games in the NRL and had a reputation as one of the game's hard men.

However, the retired league star revealed that he only had two concussion tests over the course of his career, and frequently harbours concerns about what impact the game may have on his long-term health.

Despite claiming that he "was never knocked out" while playing footy, Gallen says he can't help but worry about the issue of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) so frequently discussed in his former sport.

"With all this talk about it, I do think about it now, it is in my mind but I think that's only because there is so much talk about it," Gallen said on 2GB radio.

"I carry a pen with me whenever I'm doing radio now because sometimes I think I'm going to forget things so I write things down and that sort of worries me.

"But I've got to say, if anything happens to me when I'm 50-60 years of age and someone said to me 'You shouldn't have done this, you shouldn't have done that', I wouldn't change what I'm doing.

"I have athletic ability and I'm going to get every bit of that ability out of my body that I can.

"And when I'm retired I'm going to have nothing left. That's my attitude at the moment and that will be my attitude going forward.

"Do I worry about it? I'm starting to. But I'm not going to change."

Pictured here, Paul Gallen during his State of Origin playing days.
Paul Gallen claims he was never knocked out during his rugby league playing career. Pic: Getty

Despite his concerns, Gallen has moved from one brutal contact sport to another, with the 39-year-old going into his upcoming heavyweight boxing showdown with Justis Huni, protecting an undefeated professional record (10-0-1).

Gallen stands to pocket upwards of $1.275 million for the blockbuster all-Australian bout against Huni at Sydney's International Convention Centre on June 16.

Despite being a huge underdog, the 39-year-old retired rugby league great is the undisputed drawcard and will receive the lion's share of the expected $1.5 million windfall generated through pay-per-view TV.

Gallen secures epic payday against Huni

"This will be the biggest pay day of Gallen's life and the fight has the potential to be the biggest of the year in Australia," Lonergan told AAP.

As tough a negotiator as he was a footballer and now as a boxer, Gallen will enjoy an 85-15 split of earnings.

And the fact that Huni is down with that says it all.

Seen here, Aussie heavyweight boxing rivals Paul Gallen.
Justis Huni's team have made some massive concessions in the fight deal with Paul Gallen. Pic: Getty

"The reason is very simple: in my opinion, there's nobody in the world of boxing full stop with the exception of Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury who can bring the level of media attention to the table for Justis Huni," Lonergan said.

"(Huni) is obviously my fighter and we need to put Justis on the map and Paul allows us the vehicle to do that.

"You'll see a lot of banter backwards and forwards between Paul, myself and Justis and what have you in the media but, at the end of the day, it's straight business.

"It's a good deal for Paul, a good deal for us and everyone gets out of it what they want."

So much so that Lonergan is planning a sequel later in the year in Queensland after Huni returns from the Tokyo Olympics, where the undefeated 22-year-old is a genuine gold medal contender.

"We want to do it twice for the simple fact that we can't get the media out of anyone else that Paul brings to the table," Lonergan said.

"And, as a result, Paul's going to get belted twice."

with AAP

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