“I was pretty much 100% when they checked me. The doctors didn't see anything that I had dementia, Parkinson's, or Alzheimer's, but that doesn't mean I couldn't develop it later. Current technology cannot detect it in advance.”
Georges St-Pierre is well aware of the damage that his sport of choice, mixed martial arts, has caused. to his brain during his long career. The veteran was quick to take care of this part of his body. He did it when he was still at the top of his game.
“I worked for a long time with the specialist David Tinjuste, explains the Quebecer. Then, before my fight against Michael Bisping in 2017, I met with neurologist Robert Cantu to make sure I was okay to fight.
The important thing for an athlete who practices a contact sport is not only to do exams after his career. He must also do it during, because there are symptoms that can be spotted. It's really important to identify them before it's too late.”
During his career, St-Pierre suffered only one setback by knock-out . It was against Matt Serra in 2007. During the only round of action, the Quebecer had been shaken several times. The referee had stopped the duel after a barrage of blows to the head.
Then, during the last fights of his career, he came out of his duels with a swollen face. There were several marks or bruises on his face.
For GSP, being retired doesn't mean sitting idly by at home with millions in your bank account. Quite the contrary. He is involved in several projects in the cinema, in amateur sports or on television.
“Having a good life for me means keeping me busy, underlines the pride of Saint-Isidore . I want my brain to stay stimulated, but not with the same stress as before.”
On Wednesday, he spent the evening with George Reinitz, a former wrestler who survived concentration camps during World War II. A memorable encounter.
“He lived an incredible life. He nearly died several times and several members of his family died during this time. He is now 91 years old and still very much on.
He told me the key is to keep my brain stimulated and never stop working. Always do what you love. I learned a lot from that and I will remember it all my life.”
Georges St-Pierre is a mythical fighter in the world of mixed martial arts. Even though he officially hung up his gloves in 2019, his name is still mentioned for a potential fight.
“It’s over! I'm still in shape and people think I'm training for a fight. I train because it's my way of life and I like to be fit.
I like the confidence it gives me. I will continue to train until the moment I die.”
As he has said many times, only a fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov could have brought him out of retirement. However, St-Pierre was never able to come to a satisfactory agreement with Dana White and the UFC.
George St-Pierre will be the honorary president of the Canadian wrestling championships which will take place on May 27 and 28 at Place Bell. “Wrestling is a better teacher in life. Before you're good, it takes time. You get knocked down a lot of times before you can do it yourself. It's like life. You can't be good at first. It's with work and perseverance that it starts to be fun.”
It's not impossible that GSP is theexception
Georges St-Pierre received hundreds of blows to the head during his career in the octagon. Despite everything, he does not feel any symptoms of a possible degeneration of his brain. It is possible, according to neuropsychologist Dave Ellemberg.
“When you look at the career of Georges St-Pierre, he has a whole history of repeated blows, explained Mr. Ellemberg. However, I have met people who have a similar history and who age very well.
It is possible that he has resilience mechanisms. It is also possible that it is genetic with hormonal protein factors. We don't know what explains this protection factor.”
In his office, he meets people in worse shape than GSP, even though they have suffered far fewer impacts to the head. .
“They have three or four concussions. It's still a lot, but not at the level of Georges St-Pierre. They age very badly. They are in their late 50s and have the brains of a 75 year old.
It's not guaranteed that St-Pierre will hit a wall, but he is more likely than someone who has not suffered a concussion in his life.”
St-Pierre has medical check-ups on a regular basis. Are his exams thorough enough? That's the question Mr. Ellemberg asks himself.
“I don't know the tests that Georges has taken in recent years,” said Mr. Ellemberg. I don't know if he had a complete neuropsychology check-up, a six-hour evaluation with several cognitive tests. It's not just scans or imaging tests.”
He's got a good picture of what he's saying.
“It's as if you look at a computer from the outside. The wires seem to be plugged in and everything seems to be working fine. However, when you take a closer look at the operating system, you realize that it does not work well on further testing.”