West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

... on Wrestlers and Their Cauliflower Ears

How 'bout them "ears!"

Recently, I read an unusual article in USA Today dealing with cauliflower ears. The human interest story emphasized how dedicated wrestlers consider their deformed ears as status symbols and badges of courage. It brought to my mind an experience my oldest son and I had at the end of his senior year.

The night before WV Regionals, Billy bumped his ear and it swelled up with blood. Since it was after regular office hours, I took my son to a local hospital emergency room to have it drained. Here's what transpired. As the doctor was examining Billy's ear, I suggested the following: "Doctor, I think what you might want to do is to take a sringe, stick it in his ear, and drain the blood out. Then maybe wrap a bandage around his head to keep pressure on his ear, so it won't fill-up with blood again." The doctor replied, "Are you his coach?" I answered, "No, I'm his father." He went on to say that this was the first time he ever treated a cauliflower ear, and that what I suggested might cause permanent "deformity" to Billy's ear. I said, "Don't worry, he'll be fine." At this point, the doctor decided to call our family physician, Dr. George Naum, who is very experienced with athletic injuries. Upon returning, the emergency room doctor explained the procedure he was going to use. "Using a hypodermic needle, I am going to draw the blood out of the ear, and then apply pressure to it, by wrapping a bandage around his head." I simply responded, "That sounds good to me," and looked away smiling at Billy. As we were leaving, the doctor advised Billy not to wrestle for two weeks. We thanked him and left the hospital very satisfied with the treatment. The next day Billy placed in regionals and a week later earned all-state honors in Huntington.

By the way, my son's ear is not deformed. But even if he did have a cauliflower ear, everyone would know he wrestled . . . "We wrestlers are a strange, but proud, breed." One final note from the USA Today article. The reporter asked Steve Fahey (team physician for the University of Maryland) the following question - "Aren't wrestlers with cauliflower ears unattractive to girls?" Dr. Fahey responded, "I'm sure they don't like them, but all the wrestlers I know have girlfriends who look like cover girls."

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Updated November 22, 1997