Brave fighter Scott LeDoux succumbs to Lou Gehrig’s disease

I was saddened to hear of the death of the ‘Fighting Frenchman,’ Alan Scott LeDoux last week. LeDoux died of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also widely known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, which was originally diagnosed in 2008. He had a distinguished and colourful career having fought many famous heavyweight fighters including George Foreman, Larry Holmes, Leon Spinks, Ken Norton, and Gerry Coetzee. He also fought Muhammad Ali in a five round exhibition match, and his final bout was against Britain’s Frank Bruno in 1983 which ended in a technical knock-out. LeDoux ended his career with a record of 33-13-4, with 22 knockouts.

Arguably his best boxing achievements were his draws with Leon Spinks just two months prior to Spinks’ defeat of Ali for the World Heavyweight Championship, and with Ken Norton. During his controversial fight with Norton, he had his opponent on the canvass twice in the tenth round. Following his boxing career, LeDoux entered the world of politics and was a commissioner in Anoka County, Minnesota, until he stepped down from his role due to his declining physical health.

LeDoux and his wife Carol became advocates for research into neurodegenerative diseases, particularly supporting research programmes at the University of Minnesota. The brave fighter can be seen alongside his wife Carol talking about his hardest ever fight, against ALS, and promoting the importance of research into neurodegenerative diseases in this emotive video. LeDoux is survived by his wife Carol, two sisters Denise and Judy, two children from his first marriage, Molly and Joshua, a stepdaughter, Kelly, and four grandchildren.

McCrory discusses the issue of Sports Concussion and the Risk of Chronic Neurological Impairment in this article published in CJSM earlier this year, in which mention is made of the possible association of ALS in association with head injury. McKee and colleagues, in their study published in the Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology,  recently claimed to be the first authors to have found pathological evidence indicating that repetitive brain trauma may be associated with motor neuron disease, finding abundant TDP-43-positive inclusions in the spinal cords of 3 athletes with chronic traumatic encephalopathies.

Most of our American and Canadian readers will be familiar with New York Yankees’ first baseman Lou Gehrig, whose career was cut tragically short by ALS. Over a 15-season span from 1925 to 1939, Gehrig played in 2,130 consecutive games – a record which stood for 56 years until being finally broken by Cal Ripken Jr in 1995.

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About Chris Hughes
Associate Editor, Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine

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