Ox Baker was also linked to the August 1, 1972 death of wrestler Ray Gunkel. Gunkel, the Georgia Championship Wrestling Brass Knuckles champion, and Baker wrestled in a match held in Savannah, Georgia. During the match Gunkel was the recipient of a heart punch. Although he went on to win the match, Gunkel later collapsed and died in the locker room. The autopsy revealed Gunkel had underlying coronary artery disease. It has always been controversial what role the chest trauma contributed to his death. (1)
Nevertheless, the question still remains: Could an Ox Baker heart punch really kill a man?
The answer is yes. Such an event is known as commotio cordis (Latin for "agitation of the heart"), and is defined as a combination of ventricular fibrillation and sudden cardiac death due to chest trauma. (2) It is a common cause of sudden cardiac death in athletes. While the exact prevalence of commotio cordis is unknown, the following epidemiologic data have been reported: (2)
- Young persons are most commonly affected (mean age about 15 years); only nine percent of reported cases occurred in someone older than 25 years of age.
- 95 percent of reported cases have been in males.
- 75 percent of cases have occurred during athletics (50 percent during competitive sports, 25 percent during recreational sports).
- Most cases have been reported in sports with blunt projectiles (eg, baseball, lacrosse, hockey) and/or more physical contact (eg, football, hockey).
|Part of heart rhythm were commotio cordis a risk|
Survival from commotio cordis is poor, with one registry reporting only a 25% survival. The chances of surviving may be improved with timely emergency medical resuscitation. (2)
In addition to Ox Baker, the heart punch was also utilized by former WWE champion George Stipich (Stan Stasiak).
- N Engl J Med. 2010;362(10):917.
The medical reference www.uptodate.com was used in the preparation of this blog.
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