Tue | Jun 15, 2021

Boxing is brutal

Published:Thursday | April 19, 2012 | 12:00 AM

By Devon Dick

There is renewed interest in professional boxing partly due to the televised 'J. Wray & Nephew Contender' series on TVJ. In fact, the organisers affirmed the popularity of televised boxing by claiming it is the No. 1 television series watched last year. However, professional boxing is inherently a brutal sport.

The aim of professional boxing is for two persons to cause as much pain as possible to each other in order for one to win. And this is done by consistent and continuous attacks to the head, in particular. There is medical evidence that constant hits to the head can lead to severe injuries and other complications. If these tactics were part of other sports there would be an outcry and outrage.

In fact, according to a recently released audio, coordinator Gregg Williams, on the eve of New Orleans Saints January 14 play-off's loss to the 49ers, hollered to his defence line, "Kill Frank Gore's head. Blow out Michael Crabtree's knee. Hit Alex Smith's chin. Clip Vernon Davis' ankles. Put a lick on Kyle Williams' recently concussed head." These stunning comments are the first evidence identifying 49ers' players as targets of the Saints' illegal bounty programme, which an NFL investigation exposed last month. This is not just rhetoric to hype the players. They are seen as illegal tactics. Williams has been suspended indefinitely by the league in the wake of its three-year investigation into the Saints' tactics. However, in professional boxing it is expected that the trainer would encourage his boxer to go for the head and chin and cause as much harm as possible.

Therefore, there needs to be another look at professional boxing and an attempt to improve the sport. Because the Bible uses boxing imagery to encourage Christians to confront evil, it is not to be construed as justification for what happens in professional boxing.

Especially in a society with too high a murder rate and a propensity to violence, we should not encourage professional boxing with its brutal aspects. Professional boxing has made one significant change, in that world championship fights have been reduced from 15 rounds of three minutes each to 12 rounds. This has reduced the chances of serious injuries to tired boxers. In fact, it should be reduced to eight rounds, because by round eight the winner is usually evident. In any case, in amateur boxing the results are determined by three rounds.

Protection

There is much that professional boxing can learn from amateur boxing. In amateur boxing, the boxers wear headgear for protection, and this should be the case in professional boxing. This would help prevent serious head injuries and cuts over the eyes, et cetera. Furthermore, the boxing industry should give consideration to padding for parts of the body to prevent the boxer from feeling the full impact. This is not a far-fetched suggestion because we no longer have bare-fist fights. Instead, boxers' gloves are padded. Therefore, it is one step further to pad the bodies. And sports is moving in that direction. In cricket, helmets are now part of the batsman's and fielder's gear in order to prevent serious injury. This was not so three decades ago. A sport's aim cannot be to cause harm. Therefore, those elements should be removed as quickly as possible.

Boxing and its training can be very good in helping physical fitness. The first time I did some boxing training was with then JDF's Warrant Officer Bailey, and I found it good but very exhausting. It can be a very good sport. Therefore, what is needed is to rid professional boxing of its brutal aspects and for the fans not to be clamouring for blood.

Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.