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For almost five decades Dr John Bonica worked to define pain as a clinical field and a worthwhile subject for multidisciplinary neuroscience He fought successfully for the establishment of an international multidisciplinary scientific effort directed at pain and for the creative integration of basic neuroscientists and clinicians in the advancement of the field He was my mentor my friend and an altogether extraordinary human being With the passing of Dr John Bonica on August 15 1994 the field of pain lost its founding father and its greatest champion His death followed that of his wife of 52 years Emma Louise Bonica by scarcely more than a month John Bonica was a man of great vision and accomplishment For more than 50 years he maintained an unflagging dedication to achieving recognition for the importance of pain and its control to the establishment of a multidisciplinary scientific effort directed at pain and to the creative integration of basic neuroscientists and clinicians in the advancement of the field If John Bonica had not been the field of pain as we know it would not exist John Bonica was born on Filicudi a small island off the coast of Sicily on February 16 1917 In 1928 the family emigrated to New York City Following his fathers death in 1932 he assumed responsibility for the household shining shoes hawking newspapers and selling fruits and vegetables in pursuit of his dream to become a physician He became the youngest Eagle Scout in the history of Brooklyn In high school he took up amateur wrestling and won both city and state championships He worked his way through college at Long Island University and then medical school in Milwaukee Wisconsin as a professional wrestler traveling with the carnival during the summers through small towns in the northeastern US taking all on comers Ultimately John Bonica won not only the title of light heavyweight wrestling champion of the world
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