When contact sports were under attack for being brutal and physically dangerous in the 1960s, Dr. Max M. Novich, an orthopedic surgeon, came to their defense. Novich felt that with proper medical attention, training, and supervision, many of the injuries that were sustained could be avoided. Novich outlined a program for pre-adolescent youngsters. This program advocated progressive education in preparing for contact sports. He stressed this time and again to educators and physicians.
In 1971, Novich founded the Association of Ringside Physicians, which had recently been incorporated by the USA Amateur Boxing Federation. The association was to have boxers medically examined before a bout and have physicians at ringside during every boxing match. In the same year, Novich founded the Sports Injury Center at the Newark United Hospitals Orthopedic Center. He served locally, nationally, and internationally on many committees dealing with sports injuries.
Novich was constantly under fire because of his defense of boxing. Novich felt that there were many steps that could be taken to make boxing a safer sport. He advocated the thumbless glove, which would be the best defense against detached retinas. He wanted certified ringside physicians to be allowed to stop fights when they deemed it necessary. He believed in the octagonal ring and fought for the return of boxing as a. scientific sport. Novich was constantly lecturing on "How to Make Contact Sports Safer." He wrote more than 50 medical articles and three books on safety in contact sports.
Novich was born on December 9, 1914, in Newark, New Jersey. After receiving his education in the Newark public school system. he went to the University of North Carolina, where he graduated with an A.B. degree. He received his medical degree at the University of Louisville, in Kentucky. He was always interested in boxing and was captain of the boxing team in college; he won several championships in competition. After interning at Beth Israel Hospital in Newark, he joined the Army and served in World War II.
During his Army training period, Novich also taught boxing to the enlisted men and organized boxing shows. His unit was sent to England to prepare for the invasion of Europe and to fight Hitler's army.
After Novich requested a transfer to an assault unit, he was transferred to the 29tli Division. When the Allies invaded Europe on D- Day, Novich found himself in France. He was sent to France to replace a wounded battalion surgeon in the 2nd Battalion, 16th Regiment. Novich received a battlefield promotion to captain as his unit fought the Germans through France, Belgium, Holland and into Germany.
Novich was wounded in Julich, Germany He received many decorations for bravery: the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart Medal, the Campaign Ribbon with Four Battle Stars, the Victory Medal, the American Theater Medal, the German Occupation Ribbon, the Army Combat Medical Badge and the Croix de Guerre.
Novich is an honoree of both the New Jersey and the World Boxing Hall of Fame. He may well be remembered as a hero in World War II, but his legacy is that he is the "dean" of sports medicine.
This is one of the 150 illustrated true stories of American heroism included in Jewish Heroes and Heroines of America, © 1996, written by Seymour "Sy" Brody of Delray Beach, Florida, illustrated by Art Seiden of Woodmere, New York, and published by Lifetime Books, Inc., Hollywood, FL.
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Last updated 18 October 2006