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AIBA says concussion rates lower with removal of head guards

Published:Sunday | October 12, 2014 | 10:00 AM
Amateur boxers Nigeria's Muideen Akanji (right) and Ireland's Darren O'Neill in action during a men's middleweight 75-kg bout at the 2012 London Olympics.-file

Leroy Brown, Sunday Gleaner Writer

The International Boxing Association (AIBA) has stated that there is firm evidence to support the view that the removal of head guards from the boxing gear of male elite boxers has lessened the concussion rates among these boxers. This comes from an analysis of what transpired in the Commonwealth Games, which took place in Glasgow, Scotland, in August.

Prior to the Games, AIBA placed a ban on the use of head guards by male boxers age 19-40, who are classified as, elite boxers in its Open Boxing competition. Female, youth and junior boxers are still required to use head guards, however.

The rationale for the non-use of head guards is that there will be fewer concussions because boxers will become more adept at avoiding blows to the head. It was felt by many doctors that boxers did not make enough effort to avoid punches to the head because they wore head guards. A medical report issued after the Commonwealth Games is seen as supporting this view because the concussion rate for the boxing tournament was less than 2 per cent, and this was regarded as exceptional.

The removal of head guards, nevertheless, led to the criticism during and after the Games that because of their removal, boxers suffered more cuts. Several boxers claimed that they lost because of cuts that, they believe, would not have occurred if head guards were still being worn. A total of 31 cuts were recorded at the Games, and reports are that most of the cuts came about because of head clashes and not from punches.

AIBA has, therefore, taken strategic action in an effort to reduce cuts. The first is the use of Cavilon cream, which has been specially developed to help reduce cuts. The cream was used for the first time in a major competition at the Commonwealth Games, and met with mixed reception. Some countries used it while others did not. Reports are that those boxers who used the cream suffered less cuts than those who did not use it. AIBA has now made use of the cream mandatory, and has issued guidelines for its use in its technical rules.

STIFF PENALTIES

The other action is punitive. AIBA has introduced stiff penalties for head butting and illegal blows that cause injury. A new rule that was put in place on September 23 states that if the referee stops a bout on the advice of the ringside physician because a boxer has suffered an injury or cut because of head butting or an illegal blow, the offending boxer will be disqualified. If the illegal blow or head butting does not cause a cut or an injury, the boxer will be issued a warning and a point will be deducted. If, however, the illegal blow or head butting causes a cut and the injured boxer can continue, the offending boxer will be warned and two points will be deducted.