Boxing Safety

In terms of boxing safety the below information will rather refer to the competitive end of the sport as outside of a minor hand or wrist injury recreational program activities virtually pose no physical risks whatsoever as regards the casual boxing enthusiast.

Delving into it, athletes as well as the parents of those athletes must understand that Amateur boxing is not only highly regulated, but it’s deemed the safest of all contact sports according to ROSPA [Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents] and the NSC [National Safety Council].

Considered to be safer and result in fewer injuries as compared to that of high school football, wrestling, soccer, hockey, rugby etc., amateur boxing rates as the 75th least dangerous sport out of 100 in the ROSPA table while according to a 1996 NSC accident report it ranks 23rd on its list of injury-producing sports.

Both ROSPA and the NSC would further determine amateur boxing to have much lower incidences of injuries in comparison to that of gymnastics, in-line skating, equestrian, motorcycle racing, scuba and or sky-diving, and mountaineering amongst other such activities.

NSC Report Reference

As regards fatalities, amateur boxing’s fatality rate is according to Cantu-Boxing and Medicine, Human Kinetics, Illinois 1995, 1.3 fatalities per 100,000 participants. Compare this to fatality rates for college football [3], scuba diving [11], mountaineering [51], and skydiving [123].

When boxers do suffer injuries they tend to be bloody noses, hand or wrist injuries, oral/facial lacerations, or bruised ribs. Broken noses and ribs do occur but they are not common and rarely have permanent consequences.

Safety Studies

Repetitive concussive injury [Punch Drunk Syndrome] in boxing is suspected as a cause of brain dysfunction of which condition is well documented amongst some professional boxers. Concerned about the issue USA Boxing in 1986 requested that the USOC fund a study related to this problem for which the Johns Hopkins Medical Institute was enlisted.

Johns Hopkins studied over 500 active amateur boxers from 6 different cities all of similar ages, social backgrounds, educational levels, and lifestyle habits, comparing their neurological functions to those of non-boxers. To date it is the most thoroughly organized medical study on amateur boxing of which conclusive findings were issued in 1994.

Those findings indicated that although some temporary memory loss immediately following bouts ensued to shortly dissipate thereafter, no clinically significant evidence of permanent impairment of motor skills, loss of coordination or memory, or slurred speech would be detected among active amateur boxers. In fact, the neurological system would according to the seven-year analysis sustain no measurable damage whatsoever.

Johns Hopkins Study Reference,medical%20study%20on%20amateur%20boxing.

To further corroborate the above, Australian physician Mark Porter would independent of Johns Hopkins similarly conclude no difference in neurological function had existed between these two groups. This after conducting an exhaustive 9 year controlled subject study.

In conclusion, both the Johns Hopkins as well as Mark Porter studies would indicate that there are no permanent or lingering neuro psychological effects directly related to amateur boxing. In light of this it’s apparent that there are numerous myths as well as undeserving negative connotations attached to amateur boxing, not to be confused with the same sport at the professional level, of which safety rules and regulations as defined below are quite different.

Mark Porter-Long Term Neuropsychologic Assessment

British Journal of Sports Medicine Amateur Boxing Findings

Safety Precautions

Boxing due to injuries and deaths occurring in the professional ranks has an image problem. Add to this pro boxing’s at times negative depiction in the news and entertainment media and from a public perspective the sport can at times seem somewhat of a mockery.

Amateur boxing however would not exist if youth were being seriously injured so that to ensure its survival rules and regulations were developed to protect its participants. Listed below, these rules and regulations differ markedly in comparison to that of professional boxing.

(1) Amateurs box 3 and 4 round bouts while Professionals box anywhere from 4 to 12 rounds.

The longer a bout goes the more likely the occurrence of an injury whether due to the nature of competition itself, or whether due to other factors such as fatigue which tends to decrease an athlete’s ability to defend his or herself so as to become vulnerable to forceful blows.

(2) Amateurs use 10 and 12 ounce shock-absorbing gloves while Pros use 6 and 8 ounce shock-transmitting gloves.

The force of a blow is not only directly related to a glove’s size, but as well to its content or material make-up. That being the case, USA Boxing siting safety concerns has stringent regulations in place requiring that certain standards or criteria be adhered to, this before use of gloves are approved for competition.

In the professional ranks a more prominent fighter and or the promoter of that fighter are usually in a position to dictate which brand of gloves are to be worn by the principal as well as by their counterpart. That’s to say whether using a less padded punchers type glove to inflict damage or a more padded glove for hand protection, this circumstance in many instances is meant to work to the principal’s advantage and or prove detrimental to his or her adversary with safety at times a secondary concern.

(3) Amateurs wear headgear for protection while Professionals wear no headgear at all.

Designed to protect ears, forehead, and cheekbones, amateur contestants, except in the Elite men’s category as per recent rule change, are required to under all circumstances wear headgear. Headgear is prohibited at the pro level so that prizefighters are more prone to suffer cuts, bruises, broken facial bones, and more.

(4) Amateurs wear jerseys during bouts while Professionals [Males Only] go topless.

Amateurs wear jerseys to prevent gloves from transferring sweat to an opponents eyes. Pros have no such provision so that a boxer may become temporarily blinded from the transfer of an adversary’s sweat which from time to time may contain legal substances applied to cuts or lacerations in between rounds.

(5) Referees in amateur bouts worldwide make liberal use of the “standing-eight-count” while this rule within the professional ranks lacks uniformity.

Specifically implemented for protection, the standing-eight-count gives the referee time to assess the ability of an amateur boxer to defend his or herself after a strike or knockdown with up to 3 standing-eights to be administered without the bout being stopped [unless in the same round]. Referees also have the power to stop an amateur bout any time they feel a boxer is over-matched, this before an athlete gets seriously injured.

Although there are standing-8-counts administered during pro bouts, this rule is not uniform to in certain locales be non-existent. Add to this the fact that some referee’s are more prone to give professional boxers additional chances due to monied interests and even though combatants may appear just as defenseless, bouts may linger so as to put athletes in jeopardy.

(6) Medical exams are required of both amateur as well as professional boxers, with amateurs more likely to receive suspensions than are pros for similar or identical injuries.

Licensed physicians performing exams on amateur boxers both before and after each bout have the right to restrict these boxers, i.e. prevent them from sparring or competing for 30, 60, 90, or even 180 days following suspected concussions or other injuries.

On the other hand pro boxers are once again subject to rules and procedures which not only lack uniformity, but they are in certain locales devoid of stringency. That’s to say in many instances unless a defeated or fallen boxer displays obvious signs of trauma or is unable to under his or her own power exit an event venue, restrictions are less likely to be imposed. This increases the likelihood of recurring injuries or worse during subsequent training and or competition.

(7) Amateurs are matched up according to 3 criteria to assure fairness and safety while only 1 of these criteria is prerequisite amongst professional athletes.

The criteria in question as concerns amateur athletes requires that contestants be of similar or identical weight, age, and or experience level so as to showcase as much as possible even handed bouts which promote the safety and well-being of each boxer.

Not always the case in professional boxing, the dictates are often very different so that weight is at times the only common factor involved if that. In fact, under-skilled prizefighters are matched with more talented if not heavier more experienced opponents quite frequently. This is calculated to build up the confidence or public stature of one promoter’s fighter not only at the expense of less well represented opposition, but on occasion at the expense of fairness and safety itself.

(8) Any one of ten people can stop an amateur bout at any time while there aren’t quite as many individuals with similar authority to halt proceedings at the pro level.

Amateur bouts can be stopped by the referee, the ring doctor, either boxer, either boxers coach, a judge, and or the sanction holder [host] so that when one entity isn’t in a position to prevent unnecessary punishment another is.

Although the authority to halt a professional level pairing doesn’t reside with as many individuals, once again the dictates not to mention the objectives of pro boxing are seemingly quite different. That’s to say a prizefight is more likely to continue beyond any competitive showing, this mainly due to the knockout factor, as well as unfortunately beyond certain safety concerns when less than experienced referee’s and or ringside physicians happen to be on hand.