Citing Brain Injuries, Audley Harrison Retires

Gold Medal Olympian Audley Harrison retires due to traumatic brain injuries

Years of rolling with the punches have finally caught up with a former Olympic gold medal winner.

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) have forced Audley Harrison's lengthy boxing career to end.

Harrison announced his retirement from the sport on his website last Thursday, citing hopes to reverse the damage he's done as a main reason.

Harrison began his boxing career at age 19. In 2000, Harrison won gold in the Sydney Summer Olympics — making him the first British boxer to do so in 32 years. His victory sparked funding and support for amateur boxing to become a part of the World Class Performance Program.

"Without my gold, these Olympic greats would never had got the funding to train full time," Harrison wrote on his website.

Now, at the age of 43, he has declared himself unfit to box. He said he has vision problems, trouble balancing and moodiness — all common problems tied to TBI.

TBI results from forceful blows to the head and neck area. It's responsible for a substantial number of deaths and permanent disabilities. In 2010 alone, 2.5 million TBIs occurred in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

TBI has been a hot topic in the media recently, particularly with regard to the NFL. Harrison said he hopes he can repair and minimize any damage he sustained during his boxing career.

The former European heavyweight champion retired with a record of 31-7.