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…safer than football, wrestling, soccer, gymnastics, and in-line skating.
According to Cantu, Boxing and Medicine, Human Kinetics, Illinois 1995, amateur boxing’s fatality rate is 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 get injured, the injuries tend to be hand and wrist injuries, bloody noses, oral or facial lacerations, and bruised ribs. Broken noses and ribs do occur, but are not common. These injuries rarely have permanent consequences.
Repetitive concussive injury in boxing is suspected as a cause of brain dysfunction (Punch Drunk Syndrome), and this condition is well documented among some professional boxers. Concerned about the issue, USA Boxing Inc. requested the US Olympic Committee to fund a study of this problem in 1986 for which purpose The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutes were enlisted.
Johns Hopkins studied over 500 active amateur boxers from six different cities, all of similar ages, social backgrounds, educational levels, and lifestyle habits, comparing their neurological functions with those of non-boxers. To date, it is most thoroughly organized medical study on amateur boxing.
Its findings were issued in 1994 and the results were conclusive. Although there was some indication of temporary memory loss immediately following bouts which dissipated shortly thereafter, the study found no clinically-significant evidence of permanent impairment of motor skills, loss of coordination or memory, or slurred speech among the active amateur boxers. There was no measurable damage sustained to the neurological system found in the seven year study.
An Australian physician, Mark Porter, conducted an exhaustive 9-year study of neurological function in active amateur boxers and non-boxers, finding no difference in neurological function between the 2 groups.
Boxing has an image problem due to injuries and deaths in pro boxing and because of it’s negative depiction in the news and entertainment media. Amateur boxing, however, could not exist if kids and teens were being seriously injured. For amateur boxing to survive the sport has had to develop rules to protect its participants. Here are some of those rules:
(1) Amateurs box 3 and 4 round bouts, not 12 round bouts as in the pros.
(2) Amateurs use 10 and 12 ounce shock-absorbing gloves in competition. Pros use 6 and 8 ounce shock-transmitting gloves.
(3) Amateurs where headgear to protect ears, forehead, and cheekbones. Headgear is prohibited in pro boxing.
(4) Amateurs where jerseys during bouts, to prevent gloves from transferring sweat to the opponents eyes.
(5) Referees in amateur bouts make liberal use of the “standing-eight-count to protect boxers. The standing-eight-count gives the referee time to assess the ability of a boxer to defend himself or herself after a hit or knockdown. Up to 3 standing-eights can be administered to a given boxer without the bout being stopped (unless in the same round). Referees also have the power to stop a bout any time they feel a boxer is over-matched, this before a boxer gets hurt or knocked down.
(6) All amateur boxers must undergo a medical exam by a licensed medical doctor both before and after each bout. Physicians performing these exams have the right to restrict boxers, i.e. prevent them from sparring and fighting for 30, 60, 90, or even 180 days following suspected concussions or other injuries.
(7) Amateurs are matched up according to three criteria to assure fairness and safety. That criteria consists of similar or identical weight, age, and/or experience level.
(8) Any one of ten people can stop a bout at any time to include the referee, the ring doctor, either boxer, either boxers cornerman, the judges, or the sanction holder (host).
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: Does boxing promote aggression?
A: Boxing is a proven delinquency deterrent. The positive impact that boxing has on youth is astounding and well documented. Once the athlete is involved, the effect of a structured, organized program is almost immediate. Boxing gives one a positive release of energy and frustration. Boxers have less need to prove themselves by reacting physically when confronted or insulted. Their boxing abilities are tested and proven in the gym, and therefore there is no need nor desire to prove anything in the street.
Q: Is the boxing gym a rough environment?
A: First of all we provide a well structured program where athletes are under the constant supervision and watchful eye of qualified coaching staff to ensure that the gym experience is a positive one. There is a code of conduct that emphasizes rules and guidelines that are to be enforced by coaches and followed by each club member at all times. Our program requires that youth have respectful conduct towards coaches, staff, program participants, and all those with whom they come into contact with inside and outside the gym. This is important to us at Peninsula Boxing & Fitness because the behavior of the athletes is in fact a direct reflection of our boxing program and the people involved with it, both athlete and coach. Furthermore, to promote safety and not put your child in a situation he or she is not ready for, all gym activities are accomplished in a progressive manner, meaning that your child starts out learning the basic fundamentals of the sport and does not advance to the next level until he or she demonstrates the necessary skills and desire to move up. This ensures the well-being of your child because amateur boxing as we teach it, calls for safety first in that any training or sparring activities require that competitors be evenly matched as concerns age, weight, and skill level. This helps to prevent injuries and the possibility of events occurring that are not consistent with the goals of the program. To further promote safety and prevent injury, equipment such as proper gloves, well fitted head gear, a mouthpiece, and foul protectors are worn at all times.
Q: What if my kid gets hurt?
A: All club members who wish to do sparring or compete as an amateur athlete will be required to register with USA Boxing by submitting the proper paperwork as well as appropriate fee’s, while a physical examination by an MD (medical doctor)or a DOA ( doctor of osteopathy) is a must. For each year of participation as a competitive athlete, an annual membership fee of $53 must be paid, which fee includes medical insurance coverage for those properly registered. Any boxer entering a sanctioned competition must carry a twenty-five thousand dollar ($25,000) maximum medical insurance coverage policy and this coverage is automatically included as part of the USA Boxing registration process. Besides providing coverage for sanctioned events or competitions, the policy also covers injuries during supervised practices, and/or sparring sessions. Insurance coverage for medical, surgical, hospital, and dental care up to a total of twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000), with a $100 deductible, is included with the policy. Any and all fees are waived for those who qualify for free scholarships. Additionally, sparring or competition is not a program requirement nor does it bar program participation.
Q: What qualifies one to be a coach?
A: As a national governing body, USA Boxing Inc. is responsible for the administration, development, and promotion of Olympic-style boxing in the United States. USA Boxing is a non-profit organization which holds training clinics for coaches and officials annually/bi-annually which are mandatory for certification. Upon certification, coaches are awarded their coaches book with appropriate classification. The more clinics one attends over a regimented period of time, the higher the classification he or she receives. USA Boxing requires that coaches maintain their coach status or their boxers will be ineligible to compete under their instruction. They are also required to know basic first aid and CPR.
Q: How does amateur boxing safety rank with other contact sports?
A: Amateur boxing ranks as the safest amongst all contact sports, such as football and rugby, and amongst other activities such as equestrian, motorcycle racing, and mountaineering. In fact amateur boxing rates as the (75th) least dangerous sport out of 100 in the ROSPA Table.
Q: Doesn’t boxing rank as the sport with the most injuries?
A: No. According to Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and the National Safety Council, they report amateur boxing as having a much lower number of injuries when compared to other sports such as hockey, soccer, gymnastics, and roller blading.