No Boxing Headguards at 2016 Olympics

The decision has been made that headguards will not be worn in the 2016 Olympics. Also the International Boxing Association (AIBA), state that from June 1st, amateur, elite male boxers who compete internationally will not be wearing aiba approved head guards, just like in professional boxing. Their will be no change for women in International or Olympic competitions or for youths in International competitions. Adult ABA and Club bouts will still require headguards for the forceable future.

Amateur boxers have been required to wear headgear since the 1980s after concerns about KO’s. At its last meeting, the AIBA Medical Commission voted unanimously to support the removal of headguards as a safety measure for Elite Men Boxers. This decision was made after the AIBA Medical Commission studied over 2,000 bouts and a study published by an independent physician-researcher in a recent publication in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (almost 30,000 bouts reviewed over the past 59 years). The AIBA data was presented at a joint meeting of International Federation Medical Commission Chairmen and the IOC Medical Commission. All available data indicated to the board that the removal of headguards in Elite Men would result in a decreased number of concussions.

After collecting data on some 15,000 boxer rounds, Dr. Butler found that in the 7,352 rounds that took place with boxers wearing headgear, the rate of concussion was 0.38%, compared with 0.17% per boxer per round in the 7,545 rounds without headgear’.

But what about cuts?, now Charles Butler, chairman of the AIBA medical commission, told the Wall Street Journal Although cuts will still be a risk, these will heal, as will bones – ‘but if you can’t recognise your grandchildren, it’s a disaster,’. He has worked on research which formed the basis of the recommendations.

Tony Jeffries as an amateur boxer had 96 fights and over 60 against champions of different countries, yet only received one cut. When he turned pro he had 10 fights, received six cuts and had over 75 stitches to his face. While hand injuries forced him to retire before even facing a champion as a pro. He is left with scars on my face that will be there for the rest of his life. When you are punching a head rather than a headguard your hands take twice as much punishment. An ever growing problem among amateur and professional boxers. We recently highlighted the problem in our wrapping hands blog here but Tony Jeffries stated on his website that, had he fought without headguards in the amateurs he would never have made the Olympics because of hand injuries.

The data looks pretty close and while the use of Aiba Gloves are designed to soften the blow of punches to reduce injuries. You have got to also take in the risk of hand injuries and cuts. The main reason that parents don’t allow their children to box at the moment is the concern of injury and seeing Amateur boxers not not wearing a head guard will send out alarm bells. The increase level of Cut’s and hand injuries sustained will also be off putting. Now I am not advocating that a hand injury is anything compared to a serious injury to a boxer but we have to remember that is safety terms boxing is a safe sport. A 1996 National Safety Council accident report, ranked amateur boxing 23rd on its list of injury-producing sports and rated it the safest of all contact sports. Even safer than football, wrestling, gymnastics and in-line skating. Now Charles Butler is worried about dangers of boxing, but most serious injuries associated with boxing are weight related and the lack of fluids taken onboard to make weight affecting the brain. Not wearing a head guard won’t change this and the real reason this decision has been made is to reduce concussions, these are not normally associated with long term serious damage as implied by the AIBA medical commission.

Now boxing gloves technology used has increased dramatically in the last few years. I wonder if the material used in boxing equipment have been researched enough for instance. Top Ten Olympia head guards used at the olympic reduced ko’s to 1% with the use of this head guard and that was at an elite competition. Many companies use scientific technology like Ampro with it’s Impact Gel range, Rival Boxing with it’s D30 technology and Fighting Sports with their Tri-Tech equipment maybe it would of been better to look at the current range of AIBA approved equipment to see if safety can be improved that way. top Ten use a Bayern PU in they’re Olympic Style Aiba Gloves for protection but the Bayern PU head guard was removed for the Top Ten Leather AIBA Head Guard maybe improvements could of been found working with Top Ten and adidas

Many critics of Sparring Head Guards complain that they impair the boxers view, restrict head movement and allow a boxer to get over confident and absorb blows, drop their hands and box less/fight more all of this can be true, but by the same reflection, not very boxer will make it to elite level or posses the defensive skills of a Floyd Mayweather, wearing headgear gives a boxer confidence to throw his own shot’s. Wearing a headguard to me help’s absorb the blows and the main problem is boxers being over confident to trade, increasing their chance of a knockout, instead of relying on defensive skills. There is evidence to suggest that a clean knockout is better than sustained impact anyway. I do hope this isn’t the start of head guards being removed from amateur boxing as I am sure we would see the stats changing and increased KO’s as we moved down from the elite standard of boxers that process greater boxing skills.

I for one think that Amateur and professional boxing are two separate sports and I would like them to stay that way, one is a sport and the other is a business, I enjoy both but with the launch of a new scoring system in amateur boxing, based on the ‘Ten Point Must-System’. This is where you have five judges around the ring. Out of these five judges, only the scores of three of them, which will be randomly drawn by a computer, will be taken into account. Nobody will know until the end of the bout which judges’ scores will have been considered. In addition, scores will only be revealed at the end of each bout. It seems with the new International rule changes the two sports lines are starting to blur.

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