“The judo ear”, as Shamil Borchashvili calls it, “I have had since a Japanese training camp in 2018.” At that time, the Olympic gold medalist broke the cartilage in his right ear. If you look closely, you can still see the consequences today. Not only do parts of the auricle form a bulge, this protrudes a little on the right. “When the fracture was very fresh, it was extremely painful,” says the 26-year-old, who initially had it punctured before each session, i.e. sucked out with a syringe so that it did not swell too much. It took a long time for the pain to subside. Today he doesn’t feel anything anymore.
While the judo or cauliflower ear, as doctors call it, is practically non-existent among ordinary people, it is not uncommon in combat sports. “It occurs when there is a great deal of mechanical action,” explains Ronald Ecker, sports doctor from Marchtrenk.
Put a coin on your ear and hit it
With a large number of blows, the cartilage in the ear, which is flexible in and of itself, becomes visibly stiff and can therefore subsequently break. “The disposal of the resulting bruise works very poorly in the ear, however,” explains Ecker, why the bulge is more or less permanent. The cauliflower ears even “grow” at the doctor’s home, as he recently treated his son Thomas (18) – a member of the judo junior national team – for this reason.
Of course, blows or – if you will – a set of hot ears are not only found on the judo mat. This injury also occurs frequently in wrestling (there it is known as the ringer’s ear), jiu-jitsu or rugby. In other words, wherever athletes often have their heads in contact with their opponents. A look at some extreme shapes shows that Borchashvili’s ear is comparatively harmless. Depending on the sport, there are examples that would be considered disfigurement in this country. But this is a cultural question, as Hilde Drexler knows. “In countries like Japan, Iran or Russia, for example, this is a status symbol. It even goes so far that some people put a coin on their ear and then hit it to get an ear,” says the judo Olympian from 2012, who herself is the proud wearer of cauliflower ears.
Borchashvili, who has his first international appearance since his Olympic coup in Tokyo with the Grand Slam in Baku (Aze) on Saturday, thinks similarly about it, but he still wants to have his ear corrected surgically after his active career: “But not, um to have it removed, but that it fits back like the other. “