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The dangers in the sport of boxing

Why are we less tolerant of boxing injuries than in other sports? April 13, 2016 13 April 2016 Why are we less tolerant of boxing injuries than in other sports?

British boxer Nick Blackwell has recovered from a medically induced coma after taking a beating for 10 rounds in his British middleweight title fight against Chris Eubank Junior.

He is making a steady recovery but the calls to have the sport banned are ringing louder than ever. But the risk that comes with contact sport is one all professional sportsmen take.

Why are we less tolerant of boxing injuries than in other sports?

Why then are we seemingly more tolerant of severe injuries in other sports compared to boxing? Boxing has, and always will have, its critics who state that the sport is too dangerous and barbaric for a civilised society.

  • In professional boxing, athletes wear no protective head gear, fight significantly more rounds and experience harder hits;
  • In professional boxing, athletes wear no protective head gear, fight significantly more rounds and experience harder hits;
  • British boxer Nick Blackwell has recovered from a medically induced coma after taking a beating for 10 rounds in his British middleweight title fight against Chris Eubank Junior;
  • Rather than ban, considering ways to better manage the risk factors will be far better.

And yet, injuries abound in all contact sports. Is boxing really any more dangerous than other sports and if not, should our perceptions regarding this ancient code change?

Image by Peter Gordon British boxer Nick Blackwell is making a steady recovery after he was put in a medically induced coma after a title fight against Chris Eubank Jr on the 26th March. The fight lasted for 10 rounds before it was stopped and just minutes later Blackwell was on a stretcher and needed oxygen.

Not long afterwards, he was diagnosed with bleeding on the brain and put into a coma.

  • Either the sport has gotten more violent or it's easier to detect these injuries, because a 2012 report in PloS One revealed that over 80 percent of Olympic boxers had signs and symptoms of brain injury;
  • Some ex-boxers are rendered immobile and require institutional care while others struggle with speech difficulty of varying degrees;
  • This is known as CTE;
  • Cycling was at the top of the list of estimated head injuries treated in US hospital emergency rooms in 2009 both for adults and for children 14 and younger;
  • In professional boxing, athletes wear no protective head gear, fight significantly more rounds and experience harder hits.

It was, as boxing often is, brutal and some say that the referee, Victor Loughlin, should have stopped the fight sooner, despite there having been no knockdowns. During the fight, Chris Eubank Sr, whose fight with Michael Watson back in 1991 ended with Watson confined to a wheelchair for many years, was heard giving instructions to his son just before the 10th round, saying: But I will tell you this: His eye had swollen to the size of a tennis ball and before the 10th round was due to end, the referee asked for ringside medical advice and was told the swelling was too debilitating to continue.

Not long after the fight stopped, the boxer had to go to hospital. Blackwell is not the first and will most likely not be the last to suffer a severe injury in the ring.

  • When a boxer gets hit in the head the brain smacks against the hard skull, causing bruising and damage;
  • During the fight, Chris Eubank Sr, whose fight with Michael Watson back in 1991 ended with Watson confined to a wheelchair for many years, was heard giving instructions to his son just before the 10th round, saying;
  • In professional boxing, athletes wear no protective head gear, fight significantly more rounds and experience harder hits;
  • They keep getting worse and the brain deteriorates over time;
  • Some ex-boxers are rendered immobile and require institutional care while others struggle with speech difficulty of varying degrees;
  • The fight lasted for 10 rounds before it was stopped and just minutes later Blackwell was on a stretcher and needed oxygen.

Brain damage is an occupational hazard for a boxer, but boxing is one of the few contact sports, which raises the question: The question only really crops up when something really terrible happens in the ring. Braydon Smith died two days after being admitted to hospital after he had lost a 10-round fight before collapsing.

He was never knocked out and appeared fine, round after round.

Safety is often brought up as an argument against boxing and why it should be banned, but that argument is flimsy at best. In recent years, medical supervision in boxing has arguably been tightened more than in any other sport.

Pre-participation screening is rigorous and involves a full physical as well as blood tests. Ringside care requires doctors trained in the management of unconscious boxers with resuscitation facilities and dedicated paramedical ambulances solely for the use of the boxer. Contact sports all carry a certain risk yet society seems to tolerate the risks that other sports hold far more than the risks of boxing.

Cycling was at the top of the list of estimated head injuries treated in US hospital emergency rooms in 2009 both for adults and for children 14 and younger. Football and baseball were next. That doesn't mean we should ignore the potential damage that can come as a result of boxing. The journal attributes 66 percent of these deaths to head, brain or neck injuries; one was attributed to a skull fracture.

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Some ex-boxers are rendered immobile and require institutional care while others struggle with speech difficulty of varying degrees. Stiffness, unsteadiness and memory loss are also side-effects and some studies suggest that 15-40 percent of ex-boxers have been found to have symptoms of chronic brain injury.

  1. The journal attributes 66 percent of these deaths to head, brain or neck injuries; one was attributed to a skull fracture. E ven heading a soccer ball has been shown to cause some damage.
  2. These are known as sub-concussive blows. The fight lasted for 10 rounds before it was stopped and just minutes later Blackwell was on a stretcher and needed oxygen.
  3. The symptoms can get so bad that they have trouble walking, talking and even hearing. That's why it has been a testing ground for scientists interested in studying head injuries.
  4. These are known as sub-concussive blows. But if that knock-out doesn't occur, they can receive dozens of brain-battering sub-concussive blows.

For most, the symptoms are mild to moderate. The occupational risks are very real, but that is the case with almost all sports.

  1. For most, the symptoms are mild to moderate. The question only really crops up when something really terrible happens in the ring.
  2. If you're ever knocked out you should see a medical professional immediately who can diagnose a concussion. Rather than ban, considering ways to better manage the risk factors will be far better.
  3. The brutality of beating your opponent into a stupor is intolerable for many and challenges their own views on what constitutes civility. Boxing is a great way to get in shape, just watch out for head injuries.
  4. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy The first signs of CTE are an inability to pay attention, easily losing concentration, trouble remembering things, confusion, dizziness and headaches. When you start to see warning signs of lasting head injury, it might be time to stop fighting.

E ven heading a soccer ball has been shown to cause some damage. The intolerance of boxing injuries seem to be largely a moral debate. The brutality of beating your opponent into a stupor is intolerable for many and challenges their own views on what constitutes civility.

In a perfect world, boxing would not cause harm to the opponent and defenders of the sport will argue that it is all about skill and not brutal battery. Yet the morality question never seems to go away. In 1962, Sports Illustrated published an essay questioning the very same thing.

But that will do more harm than good. Ban boxing and it goes underground where access to medical care is far more limited than when it is done openly in public. Rather than ban, considering ways to better manage the risk factors will be far better. While that might initially subdue the very reason some are drawn to the sport, it will perhaps make the risks a little bit more tolerable This article first appeared on the Daily Maverick and has been published with permission.