Posted on by David John

Boxing has existed since a very long time indeed. For dwellers of ancient Greece, it was an Olympic activity. However, its modern history is not free from controversy. Its supporters say that it inculcates physical fitness and self-control besides providing ways for youngsters to eradicate their own poverty. Boxing’s critics, on the other hand, claim that it is barbarous, too dangerous and deserves being banned. Modern boxing grew in America and United Kingdom in the last 2 centuries. The official rules were laid down which ultimately helped boxing in making a slow evolution into a full-fledged sport after a lengthy period of possessing only dubious legality.

Boxing is a historic, famous and worthy-of-respect sport with some of the giants among sportsmen being affiliated with the ring. Thus, saying that the entire sport could just be finished forever sounds very far-fetched, utopian and unsound on realistic and practical grounds with too many followers, fans and admirers – don’t forget that there are simply too many players with a life in which their only source of livelihood is boxing and nothing else. What would these professionals do without gloves in their hands and feet in the ring? However, people on the opposite side of spectrum hold that boxing is a sport too dangerous and full of hazards to be ignored and all their concerns revolve around the wellbeing of players. As an internationally recognized, widely acknowledged and immensely loved game, there is no doubt that boxing is fundamentally violent. The objective of the match is stopping your rival before the end no matter which round it is. Obviously, the best way to achieve that target is knocking him out through a single deadly punch or a sequence of quick punches on the poor victimized head.

 

Is Boxing A Violent Sport?

Certainly, there are other options in sports which are deemed even more dangerous – Rugby, Ice Hockey and Mixed Martial Arts are ranked in polls higher in violence than boxing. However, it is not as simple as that at all. In Ice Hockey, pain is intentionally given to the head of opponent only when both agree to fight; and this usually does not last that long. Similarly, in Rugby, you do not play with your heads or intend to harm someone else’s head. If we consider MMA, fighters attack heads of each other and it is a way of securing victory but the only stress is not on giving blows to the head of your opponent. It may be the fastest way for achieving knockouts but MMA allows other ways of attaining victory as well e.g. pinning your rival. This relatively newer sport does cater other methods for the same goal as well as it allows a much larger target zone (the full body) with less fascination with blows on the head. Combat sports like kickboxing, wrestling and Judo have other ways of winning as well that shy away from bombarding your opponent’s unsafe head. It seems that wellbeing is not the only cause of concern of the anti-boxing group.

In 2016, a poll was conducted via the website “Debate” on if boxing should be banned or not. 54% said no while 46% said yes. Most of the comments by the later party were not about welfare but they endorsed the common view that how can a violent sport be embraced at all. Most said that there is simply no room for any entertainment with violence in the modern age when man has progressed by leaps and bounds. Other people challenged the influence of boxing on young vulnerable souls. According to more arguments, a sport centering on 2 people trying their best to damage each other should not be considered a proper sport in the first place.

A sport with higher violence in totality as compared to boxing is MMA but its popularity is only rising each year. In a comparatively short period of time, it has turned into a respectable and accepted sport. Why then we have people saying there is no space for the amount of violence in boxing which is much lesser aggressive with lesser violence. Other than sports, especially in media and entertainment industry, violence reins more than ever before. Where the 80’s had Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger diminishing hundreds of people in one film but, today, we feel attached to the ones who will be killed violently e.g. The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones. Readers will obviously say this is moving totally away from the concerned theme of violence in sports but the fact remains that irrespective of how civilized people wish to become or be known, the desire for violent entertainment cannot be denied at all whether on camera or in a boxing ring.

As far as the notion of boxing being an adverse influence on children is concerned, the actual reality is that troubled youngsters seek highest solace and revival by being involved in this controversial yet useful sport. This is quite contrary to what is normally perceived about boxing. According to The Guardian of March 2015, a detailed and well researched report by Boxing Academy states after helping the permanently excluded ones from school that as many as 90% of attendees pursue higher education, training and employment – boxing makes their future prosperous and stable. This same source quotes a famous and interesting saying which is written and printed on a gym’s base, “Boxing can seriously damage your health, but teaches self-discipline and gets you fit. Smoking, drinking and drugs just damage your health.” You cannot deny its veracity at all.

The owner of this gym confidently claims that other than the eminent names who were guided by this gym, innumerable people who did not ever professionally step into a ring afterwards transformed their entire lives by simply attending his boxing gym. In simple words, boxing not only makes you fit but it can turn around your life as well especially the lives of youths who are troubled. Keeping in view the anti-youth sentiments aroused by tabloid and media along with the fears of youth crimes highlighted whether committed or anticipated, it is so true that activities like boxing which take youngsters out of the vicious cycle of criminal tendencies and offenses have to be worth encouraging. Despite what is commonly upheld, most of the boxers are in reality highly skilled, talented and disciplined sportsmen taking part in a sport that, according to them, isn’t at all about demolishing your opponent. This game, instead, is about outwitting your rival in the ring, analyzing and beating his tactics and playing in such a technical way that leaves him exposed so you can grab this opportunity. Thus, boxing is as mental as physical. Great boxers like Muhammad Ali were people of very high IQ level.

Boxing is less about being brutal and extremely aggressive but more about your level of concentration and accuracy of anticipation. No doubt, the players do make their fists talk besides commonly engaging in what you call “smack talk”, but the playing itself is not just about hurting one other. This was fully manifested by the unforgettable match between Nick Blackwell and Chris Eubank Jr. on 26th March, 2016 in which the later not only defeated the earlier but sent him in a state of coma due to brain damage. According to The Guardian, Chris decided to avoid hitting Nick on the head after discussing with his father how Nick suffered in the head. Undoubtedly, there are both positives and negatives to an act like boxing but it cannot be totally ruled out due to a layman and naive view of it on the basis of perceived violence. Cricket is known to be a gentleman’s game - does any cricket lover remember Gary Kirsten’s never ending blood bath after being hit on the eye by a vicious bouncer from the fastest bowler, Shoaib Akhtar? Similarly, boxing can be violent just like any other sport on earth. The actual issue is the physiological repercussion of injuries inflicted while boxing.

The arguments for banning boxing initiate from the nature and gravity of injuries undergone by players such as that suffered by Nick against Chris and, as per Live Strong, these voices belong to the Medical Associations of UK, USA, Australia and Canada. Thus, they cannot be totally ignored as being insignificant. These eminent organizations refer to the high risk of brain damage and the sport’s unsuitability for youngsters. In response, those who defend boxing emphasize that injuries in boxing have low death rates and the players themselves know the risks as well. They state that boxing is wonderful for fitness, weight loss, power, fortitude and relief from stress.

However, they warn of those minor injuries affiliated with training and fighting within the ring e.g. dementia pugilistica which is a brain disorder resulting from recurrent blows on the head. Boxers suffer from debilitating illnesses. The most popular case is that of Muhammad Ali. Deemed by most as not just the greatest boxer ever but also one of the best sportsmen ever due to his immense influence, legacy and impact, he suffered from Parkinson’s disease which might have been the consequence of his career as a heavyweight boxer.

Another instance worth mentioning is the controversial fight of 1995 between Gerald McClellan and Nigel Benn. During the later rounds, the referee failed to recognize Gerald’s struggle who was trying to hold the gum shield in his teeth instead of wearing it. Then Gerald was seen blinking too much. During the same round, the referee saw him taking a knee twice prompting the match to be called off. Gerald collapsed and returned home blind. He was not able to walk after a brain surgery on a clot of blood.

Where it is obviously bad that players end up suffering perpetual illness due to boxing, their families also undergo suffering. For example, Muhammad Ali’s wife remained his caretaker till death. Benn deeply turned to religion and is an extremely God-fearing man. Gerald has been living in poverty. These horrific and serious episodes are obviously by-products of boxing and yet its admirers stick to the opinion that dangers are unlikely and occur only very seldom.

8 years ago, it was Joseph Svinth who presented the Manuel Velazquez Collection honoring players who died due to boxing. His work analyzed statistics on deaths in the ring. Svinth found out that boxers do die from injuries and America was responsible for more than half of total deaths during 2000-2007. This is due to the sport’s greater fame in USA. Since decades, boxing deaths have significantly reduced. They peaked in the 20’s (191) decreasing drastically in 80’s, 90’s, and 00’s (67, 78 & 68).

Most commonly, deaths occur in 4th, 6th and 10th rounds. From 1890 to 2007, 923 boxers died at an average age of 23.1. 30% of the deaths were due to falling; 24% were due to misadventure; 11% were a result of a prior injury; 7% resulted due to lack of fitness; 9% were due to mismatch and weight reduction or miscellaneous causes. In the U.S state of Nevada, the death rate was 76 per 1000000 players which is much lesser than that for general athletes - 220 per 1000000 players according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Although these numbers may seem less than our expectations, it is actually quite a lot for deaths due to a sport. All players are warned of and are aware of the immense risks affiliated with boxing. However, most are driven by their passion for it and see the possible gains in it as a compensation for risks involved. Eventually, they make the final decision and we cannot deny or ignore that a lot of people enjoy watching and participating in it. So the question is how can boxing organizations make it much safer for players and lessen the pressure from those who want to ban it?

 

Disadvantages of Boxing

Most of you have already heard the term, "punch drunk" – it is about the state in which most boxers are after many years of boxing. Repeated blows on the head leads to multiple concussions in a lifetime which results in adverse conditions of mental health like CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy). Brain problems are only one among many issues that the body suffers from boxing which signals to many people a reason for not pursuing this controversial sport.

CTE

Boxing, hockey and football are among those sports where repeated concussions are not unusual. In 2008, The Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy was formed especially for studying CTE which is a condition in athletes (boxers too) resulting from multiple brain trauma. The tissue inside the brain degenerates which leads to symptoms and behaviors similar to dementia besides manic and aggressive tendencies as well.

 

Other Types of Brain Injuries

In 2006, a team of researchers studied boxing and published the findings in British Journal of Sports Medicine. They studied 47 boxers and found out that 21 injuries took place at a rate of 2 injuries per 1000 hours of boxing. 71% percent of injuries were linked with the head with 1/3rd of them leading to concussions.

Eye Injury & Blindness

See the face of a boxer after a match and one if not both eyes will be most probably either bruised or swollen. During a presentation to International Boxing Association, an opthamologist from France claimed that eye damage results from either direct blows or indirect shock from punches. Injuries include eye fracture, eye socket fracture, rupturing of tear ducts, bleeding neuro-muscular cone, cataracts and detachment of retina.

The Moral Factor

The aim of boxing is punching your rival and knocking him unconscious. These physical side effects of this sport does bring morality into question. George Lundberg is the former editor of Journal of American Medical Association. He continues to appeal for total banning of boxing. In an interview of 2005 taken by Courier-Journal in Kentucky, he said that the intentional knocking out of a person and infliction of brain damage is simply morally unacceptable.

Arguments of Anti-Boxing Club

The sport is cruel and not different from an organized assault which will be prohibited in any context even if the participants indulge in it voluntarily as willingness or lack of will in any harmful endeavor is irrelevant as far as a healthy and civilized society is concerned. Thus, in some ways, boxing is similar to dueling which used to be allowed for many years in the past but was later rightfully banned. Where injuries take place accidentally in other forms of sports, causing a head injury to your rival by a knockout is not only allowed but is in fact extremely desirable and, in fact, one of the major goals of the game. Thus, boxing is clearly different and not defendable.

Though deaths during boxing are indeed rare, doctors believe it should be banned due to eye as well as brain injuries caused by getting punched on the head again and again and again. These harms go unnoticed when they actually occur but, later, create in the boxer’s life serious problems of gravity which cannot be ignored at all. Very few pro fighters are there whose brains remain unscathed at the end of their long career. Professional boxing gives violence glamor and respect with the dreams of turning rich, successful and famous by physical aggression. This is clearly sending vulnerable children the wrong message. Though boxing appears to offer a fast and easy path to wealth, it is actually a poor option. Besides the obvious health risks, boxers are economically exploited very often and even the big names may end up without a penny.

 

Advantages of Boxing

The game of boxing demands a very high level in athletic competence - power, swiftness, agility, coordination between hand and eye, fortitude and courage among many required traits. As a fitness oriented activity, boxing makes an average person improve the special attributes mentioned above without the need of taking a punch. If you wish to be in great shape while improving your health, you can certainly consider signing up for membership at the nearest boxing gym. Here are the reasons why.

Better Cardiovascular Health

You may listen to it so often. You must do cardio for preventing heart disease, burning calories and losing or at least maintaining weight. However doing cardio does not necessarily mean bounding on treadmills to gauge your minutes required as that would be extremely boring. The sole focus of cardio is placing reasonable amount of stress on lungs and heart so they are forced to make advantageous physiologic alterations for supporting higher level of physical activity. However it is totally up to you how you choose placing that stress. If you maintain your heart rate up while working out, you can kick, punch and jump your way towards a genuinely healthy heart in your nearest boxing gym.

Higher Body Strength

Obviously punching, jumping and kicking demands an unexpected level of strength. Just think for a while – pro heavy bags mostly weigh minimum 100 pounds. In a boxing workout, you punch and kick a bag a hundred times which requires both upper and lower body as well as core for making proper contact with your bag. Furthermore, boxing gyms mostly include more strength-training moves in a workout. For example, if you take a class at any 9Round, you do pushups, squats, planks and exercises of weighted medicine ball in your quick-paced 30 minutes of circuit workout.

Superior Hand-Eye Coordination

You may underestimate the significance of hand-eye coordination and the impact it has on your entire health but it plays an instrumental role in an individual’s fine and gross motor skills. People with better hand-eye coordination have quicker reflexes & reaction times; they have superior physical coordination in totality. This is especially vital while aging when balance and coordination are compromised which increases the probability of falls.

Boxing improves hand-eye coordination. When you have the daunting task of punching a speed bag or you are expected to spar with some partner, you have to see the target, react to it and hit it while it moves and changes position. It is indeed tough but if you practice hard, the hand-eye coordination is improved considerably.

Less Stress

Nearly any type of adequate or intense physical activity decreases stress. Mayo Clinic claims exercise boosts endorphins, improves mood, is a kind of meditation and betters sleep - all these factors reduce stress. However, at times, you require more than just walking in a park to make you forget stress, anxiety and tension. Boxing is an ideal outlet for this due to two reasons. Firstly, during workout, you usually switch between very intense exercise bouts and moderately intense recovery phases. If you force yourself through few minutes of very intense punching/kicking, you won’t have enough mental power remaining for worrying about how pathetic your job is or how messy your house is. Even while resting, you will focus on sucking wind or preparing mentally for another round instead of panicking on your otherwise tough schedule. Secondly, there is an unbelievably cathartic release about taking out your stress entirely on a punching bag. It is a feeling of empowerment which has to be experienced to be known.

Better Body Composition

Boxing is wonderful if you want to improve your body composition and even for weight loss. It is an amazing mechanism as it is the perfect combination of strength training moves, muscle building as well as cardio calorie torching bouts. By regular participation in a boxing session and adhering to a nutritious diet plan, you would certainly see changes to your shape as well as improvements in fat-mass percentage. If you seek a pat on your back, you would see changes in weight too.

Burning Fat

Boxing readily burns not less than 1000 calories in a session. However, it has an extra advantage as it is a highly intense training session. Not only will you burn loads of calories during it but also for hours after it. Usual cardio acts lack this post-training impact. Thus, boxing can be your first choice if it is about losing weight.

Better Muscle Tone

Typically, a boxer’s build is toned and well-defined without being bulky and, thus, it is ideal for toning up. It is due to the fact that punching is a quick repetitive action producing muscles which are toned taut contrary to the controlled, slow and heavy movements of body-building or lifting weights which generate bulk or size.

Stronger Bones & Ligaments

Resistance training makes your bones much stronger reducing progression of osteoporosis. In boxing, punching bags and focus pads grant resistance just like your bodyweight while performing pull ups, pushups, burpees, lunges and some other different exercises. Your tendons, joints and ligaments become stronger as a response to striving against resistance. Utilizing your bodyweight helps as well in maintaining or increasing lean muscle mass that is so vital for keeping metabolic rate burning at its highest capacity. This is obviously extremely important for losing body fat.

More Muscular Endurance

Boxing demands muscles to contract again and again causing them to fatigue. By training, muscles continue to contract for lengthier durations without tiring which, allows you to do harder training for longer time and, thus, burning higher number of calories.

Higher Core Stability

Anything that makes your body unstable demands core muscles working harder for keeping you balanced. Boxing demands many speedy rotational movements. Development of these core muscles allows punching hard while maintaining your balance as well.

More Strength More Power

Boxing is an ideal full-body workout. Punches properly thrown utilize your hips, legs, core, glutes, back, obliques, chest, shoulders and arms. Punching in opposition to resistance makes muscles contract with greater speed and force inculcating more power and strength in you.

More Body Awareness

Movement of many parts simultaneously demands good connection between brain and body. With practice and patience, this acquired focus and learned discipline will help in other sports and other activities as well.

Higher Confidence & Self-Esteem

Mastering techniques of boxing makes you feel on top of the world. The better the technique, the greater the force in your punch. Is not the noise heard on landing a powerful and accurate punch exactly on the focus pad’s sweet spot so damn satisfying? It certainly is.

Arguments of pro-boxing club

Boxing demands a high level of physical fitness. If you aim for success in it, boxing encourages young people to take care of their bodies. There is simply no intention and desire in it to hurt or damage the opponent for its own sake. Rather, the real aim is scoring highest number of points through hitting well-defined areas of the body. This sport inculcates discipline. Besides diet and exercise, it teaches people when to fight and also when not to fight. It emphasizes establishing mental as well as physical control. It also grants people skills and abilities of self-defense and increases their self-esteem including the art of defense when physically assaulted by chance. The huge majority among boxers train or fight not because they are crazy after money but because of the joy this sport brings in their otherwise ordinary lives.

No one is forced to pursue boxing or see a fight. Everyone does it through their free will and choice. If you don’t like boxing, you should simply ignore it. Critics are unfair in targeting boxing as it obviously only resembles a fight in contrast to other sports which have physical aggression like rugby or ice hockey in which there is a ball or a puck to focus on. Similarly, the high caliber of tactics and strategy applied by boxers are so often missed by unknowledgeable observers. Boxing is a means for many people to end their poverty. Other paths may never be suitable for an aspiring boxer such as college degrees or expensive trainings or some certifications. This sport does offer an alternative course of action for economic and social advancement. The minimum it provides without doubt is a strong and much needed sense of self-respect. Ask any boxer and he will tell you his moving story.

Improvements for Safety

There, obviously, cannot be a final solution to the problem of deaths in boxing just like any other sport in this world. Human error will always accompany every effort as nothing is totally foolproof. Nevertheless, there are ways to make boxing safer and prevent serious injuries in it.

Head Gear & Extra Padding

This may appear to be too obvious for recommendation but modern research carried out by experts and published in reputed journals reveals that protective headgear actually increases the probability of lasting brain trauma as well as concussions.

Participation Age

The study by Svinth (earlier mentioned) claimed that the average death age of boxers was almost 23. Assigning a minimum age for to-be boxers before they take on another player even for training wouldn’t just allow them to understand the risks better but also develop them more. This may prevent them from pursuing this sport’s competitive side.

Reduction of Rounds

Less number of rounds imply less chances of injury. However, Svinth’s study revealed that most deaths in boxing took place in round # 6, 10, 4, 8, 2 & 3. Thus, reduction of rounds is ineffective.

Scoring System

It is also suggested that having a point scoring system would be advantageous. It depends on how points are awarded. For instance, if 3 are for body shot and only 1 is for head, the attention would no longer be on the head. But it is obvious that this would change the sport and withdraw the game’s objective i.e. knockout.

Only Body Shots

Boxing does not include shots below the belt. How about introducing a rule on prohibition of shots above shoulders like rugby or ice hockey? This, again, will be a major transformation in boxing itself while the stress on the chest may lead to other kinds of injuries with a higher death rate. For example, damage to lungs and heart is much more fatal.

Thicker/Softer Mats

Mats used in boxing are layered very well. Those deaths due to falls as per Svinth’s study might be heavily influenced by the period prior to extra padding being applied to the turf of rings. While an upgrading in reduction of impact on the mats will need adjustment by boxers, it will eventually decrease the risk affiliated with knockout falling.

Training

There should be more detailed training for referees as far as warning signals of serious injuries are concerned. It should be a condition for boxing coaches to take courses on protection of players and the necessity of preserving boxers. Boxing is obviously a sport and it is also played for winning. Once you are pumped up with rush of blood and energy, there is just one target you see and that is victory. Thus, boxers cannot be fully relied upon as far as their own well-being is concerned. People responsible for managing matches and coaching athletes have to be aware of keeping boxers safe from dangers.

Challenge of Coach

Coaches or boxers do not wish to witness someone getting hurt seriously. If the opponent has been given a lot of punishment, they should be in a position to finish the contest. Obviously, this can be easily misused for stopping the fight’s flow or getting, for their boxer, another break but if rules were applied for them, this would increase awareness in the ring. This would have made the bloody fight between Blackwell and Eubank Jr. to end much earlier.

Conclusion

While the game of boxing does have inherent issues of health, whether major or minor, it must be said that it does not deserve to be banned altogether. Away from the limelight, it has a lot of good to offer as well which cannot be denied based on facts. Without ignoring the awful and tragic cases of severe injuries or death during boxing matches, it has to be stated that they are comparatively less in number if compared to sports in general and even professions as we must not forget that boxing is also a full-fledged profession. It is not being said that frequency of serious injuries must be reduced. What is being emphasized is that there are ways worthy of being introduced for reducing injury risks prior to a complete ban on boxing.

There are uncharted paths with a wide room for reformation as far as safety in boxing is concerned but it is up to the authorities to review this sport and alter it in view of latest medical or technological developments and capacities. A major issue with boxing is that it, often, has not reacted to possibilities of danger till a legal case or an unfortunate episode provokes it. However, boxers are aware of the risks while agreeing to take part fully despite them for multiple reasons. In the end, it is their own prerogative and what if they don’t purse or aspire for boxing, they actually might be fighting somewhere else in some other capacity with even far worse consequences. We can have hope and optimism that good things can result from this wave of anti-boxing sentiments and views causing this sport to alter its methods for better safety of the ones who adore Sweet Science.

It is not surprising that in the last 12 years, first Sweden, then Cuba and then Norway quit being part of the small club of nations where boxing is banned. If boxing would have been all bad and all negative, a prolific, sensitive, thought-provoking, emotional, intellectual, people’s favorite, politically accurate, non-controversial, inspiring and universal-appeal-oriented songwriter like Chris Martin of Coldplay would not have penned and composed one his most soulful and commercially hit songs to date named “Everglow” as a tribute to one of the biggest names in boxing history, Muhammad Ali as a testament of his legacy, influence and impact on America’s history, especially the world of sports. It is high time that we should be judicial and impartial to boxing without any bias or prejudice against it. Keep boxing and keep rocking but don’t ever forget your limits and boundaries!

Boxing has existed since a very long time indeed. For dwellers of ancient Greece, it was an Olympic activity. However, its modern history is not free from controversy. Its supporters say that it inculcates physical fitness and self-control besides providing ways for youngsters to eradicate their own poverty. Boxing’s critics, on the other hand, claim that it is barbarous, too dangerous and deserves being banned. Modern boxing grew in America and United Kingdom in the last 2 centuries. The official rules were laid down which ultimately helped boxing in making a slow evolution into a full-fledged sport after a lengthy period of possessing only dubious legality.

Boxing is a historic, famous and worthy-of-respect sport with some of the giants among sportsmen being affiliated with the ring. Thus, saying that the entire sport could just be finished forever sounds very far-fetched, utopian and unsound on realistic and practical grounds with too many followers, fans and admirers – don’t forget that there are simply too many players with a life in which their only source of livelihood is boxing and nothing else. What would these professionals do without gloves in their hands and feet in the ring? However, people on the opposite side of spectrum hold that boxing is a sport too dangerous and full of hazards to be ignored and all their concerns revolve around the wellbeing of players. As an internationally recognized, widely acknowledged and immensely loved game, there is no doubt that boxing is fundamentally violent. The objective of the match is stopping your rival before the end no matter which round it is. Obviously, the best way to achieve that target is knocking him out through a single deadly punch or a sequence of quick punches on the poor victimized head.

 

Is Boxing A Violent Sport?

Certainly, there are other options in sports which are deemed even more dangerous – Rugby, Ice Hockey and Mixed Martial Arts are ranked in polls higher in violence than boxing. However, it is not as simple as that at all. In Ice Hockey, pain is intentionally given to the head of opponent only when both agree to fight; and this usually does not last that long. Similarly, in Rugby, you do not play with your heads or intend to harm someone else’s head. If we consider MMA, fighters attack heads of each other and it is a way of securing victory but the only stress is not on giving blows to the head of your opponent. It may be the fastest way for achieving knockouts but MMA allows other ways of attaining victory as well e.g. pinning your rival. This relatively newer sport does cater other methods for the same goal as well as it allows a much larger target zone (the full body) with less fascination with blows on the head. Combat sports like kickboxing, wrestling and Judo have other ways of winning as well that shy away from bombarding your opponent’s unsafe head. It seems that wellbeing is not the only cause of concern of the anti-boxing group.

In 2016, a poll was conducted via the website “Debate” on if boxing should be banned or not. 54% said no while 46% said yes. Most of the comments by the later party were not about welfare but they endorsed the common view that how can a violent sport be embraced at all. Most said that there is simply no room for any entertainment with violence in the modern age when man has progressed by leaps and bounds. Other people challenged the influence of boxing on young vulnerable souls. According to more arguments, a sport centering on 2 people trying their best to damage each other should not be considered a proper sport in the first place.

A sport with higher violence in totality as compared to boxing is MMA but its popularity is only rising each year. In a comparatively short period of time, it has turned into a respectable and accepted sport. Why then we have people saying there is no space for the amount of violence in boxing which is much lesser aggressive with lesser violence. Other than sports, especially in media and entertainment industry, violence reins more than ever before. Where the 80’s had Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger diminishing hundreds of people in one film but, today, we feel attached to the ones who will be killed violently e.g. The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones. Readers will obviously say this is moving totally away from the concerned theme of violence in sports but the fact remains that irrespective of how civilized people wish to become or be known, the desire for violent entertainment cannot be denied at all whether on camera or in a boxing ring.

As far as the notion of boxing being an adverse influence on children is concerned, the actual reality is that troubled youngsters seek highest solace and revival by being involved in this controversial yet useful sport. This is quite contrary to what is normally perceived about boxing. According to The Guardian of March 2015, a detailed and well researched report by Boxing Academy states after helping the permanently excluded ones from school that as many as 90% of attendees pursue higher education, training and employment – boxing makes their future prosperous and stable. This same source quotes a famous and interesting saying which is written and printed on a gym’s base, “Boxing can seriously damage your health, but teaches self-discipline and gets you fit. Smoking, drinking and drugs just damage your health.” You cannot deny its veracity at all.

The owner of this gym confidently claims that other than the eminent names who were guided by this gym, innumerable people who did not ever professionally step into a ring afterwards transformed their entire lives by simply attending his boxing gym. In simple words, boxing not only makes you fit but it can turn around your life as well especially the lives of youths who are troubled. Keeping in view the anti-youth sentiments aroused by tabloid and media along with the fears of youth crimes highlighted whether committed or anticipated, it is so true that activities like boxing which take youngsters out of the vicious cycle of criminal tendencies and offenses have to be worth encouraging. Despite what is commonly upheld, most of the boxers are in reality highly skilled, talented and disciplined sportsmen taking part in a sport that, according to them, isn’t at all about demolishing your opponent. This game, instead, is about outwitting your rival in the ring, analyzing and beating his tactics and playing in such a technical way that leaves him exposed so you can grab this opportunity. Thus, boxing is as mental as physical. Great boxers like Muhammad Ali were people of very high IQ level.

Boxing is less about being brutal and extremely aggressive but more about your level of concentration and accuracy of anticipation. No doubt, the players do make their fists talk besides commonly engaging in what you call “smack talk”, but the playing itself is not just about hurting one other. This was fully manifested by the unforgettable match between Nick Blackwell and Chris Eubank Jr. on 26th March, 2016 in which the later not only defeated the earlier but sent him in a state of coma due to brain damage. According to The Guardian, Chris decided to avoid hitting Nick on the head after discussing with his father how Nick suffered in the head. Undoubtedly, there are both positives and negatives to an act like boxing but it cannot be totally ruled out due to a layman and naive view of it on the basis of perceived violence. Cricket is known to be a gentleman’s game - does any cricket lover remember Gary Kirsten’s never ending blood bath after being hit on the eye by a vicious bouncer from the fastest bowler, Shoaib Akhtar? Similarly, boxing can be violent just like any other sport on earth. The actual issue is the physiological repercussion of injuries inflicted while boxing.

The arguments for banning boxing initiate from the nature and gravity of injuries undergone by players such as that suffered by Nick against Chris and, as per Live Strong, these voices belong to the Medical Associations of UK, USA, Australia and Canada. Thus, they cannot be totally ignored as being insignificant. These eminent organizations refer to the high risk of brain damage and the sport’s unsuitability for youngsters. In response, those who defend boxing emphasize that injuries in boxing have low death rates and the players themselves know the risks as well. They state that boxing is wonderful for fitness, weight loss, power, fortitude and relief from stress.

However, they warn of those minor injuries affiliated with training and fighting within the ring e.g. dementia pugilistica which is a brain disorder resulting from recurrent blows on the head. Boxers suffer from debilitating illnesses. The most popular case is that of Muhammad Ali. Deemed by most as not just the greatest boxer ever but also one of the best sportsmen ever due to his immense influence, legacy and impact, he suffered from Parkinson’s disease which might have been the consequence of his career as a heavyweight boxer.

Another instance worth mentioning is the controversial fight of 1995 between Gerald McClellan and Nigel Benn. During the later rounds, the referee failed to recognize Gerald’s struggle who was trying to hold the gum shield in his teeth instead of wearing it. Then Gerald was seen blinking too much. During the same round, the referee saw him taking a knee twice prompting the match to be called off. Gerald collapsed and returned home blind. He was not able to walk after a brain surgery on a clot of blood.

Where it is obviously bad that players end up suffering perpetual illness due to boxing, their families also undergo suffering. For example, Muhammad Ali’s wife remained his caretaker till death. Benn deeply turned to religion and is an extremely God-fearing man. Gerald has been living in poverty. These horrific and serious episodes are obviously by-products of boxing and yet its admirers stick to the opinion that dangers are unlikely and occur only very seldom.

8 years ago, it was Joseph Svinth who presented the Manuel Velazquez Collection honoring players who died due to boxing. His work analyzed statistics on deaths in the ring. Svinth found out that boxers do die from injuries and America was responsible for more than half of total deaths during 2000-2007. This is due to the sport’s greater fame in USA. Since decades, boxing deaths have significantly reduced. They peaked in the 20’s (191) decreasing drastically in 80’s, 90’s, and 00’s (67, 78 & 68).

Most commonly, deaths occur in 4th, 6th and 10th rounds. From 1890 to 2007, 923 boxers died at an average age of 23.1. 30% of the deaths were due to falling; 24% were due to misadventure; 11% were a result of a prior injury; 7% resulted due to lack of fitness; 9% were due to mismatch and weight reduction or miscellaneous causes. In the U.S state of Nevada, the death rate was 76 per 1000000 players which is much lesser than that for general athletes - 220 per 1000000 players according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Although these numbers may seem less than our expectations, it is actually quite a lot for deaths due to a sport. All players are warned of and are aware of the immense risks affiliated with boxing. However, most are driven by their passion for it and see the possible gains in it as a compensation for risks involved. Eventually, they make the final decision and we cannot deny or ignore that a lot of people enjoy watching and participating in it. So the question is how can boxing organizations make it much safer for players and lessen the pressure from those who want to ban it?

 

Disadvantages of Boxing

Most of you have already heard the term, "punch drunk" – it is about the state in which most boxers are after many years of boxing. Repeated blows on the head leads to multiple concussions in a lifetime which results in adverse conditions of mental health like CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy). Brain problems are only one among many issues that the body suffers from boxing which signals to many people a reason for not pursuing this controversial sport.

CTE

Boxing, hockey and football are among those sports where repeated concussions are not unusual. In 2008, The Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy was formed especially for studying CTE which is a condition in athletes (boxers too) resulting from multiple brain trauma. The tissue inside the brain degenerates which leads to symptoms and behaviors similar to dementia besides manic and aggressive tendencies as well.

 

Other Types of Brain Injuries

In 2006, a team of researchers studied boxing and published the findings in British Journal of Sports Medicine. They studied 47 boxers and found out that 21 injuries took place at a rate of 2 injuries per 1000 hours of boxing. 71% percent of injuries were linked with the head with 1/3rd of them leading to concussions.

Eye Injury & Blindness

See the face of a boxer after a match and one if not both eyes will be most probably either bruised or swollen. During a presentation to International Boxing Association, an opthamologist from France claimed that eye damage results from either direct blows or indirect shock from punches. Injuries include eye fracture, eye socket fracture, rupturing of tear ducts, bleeding neuro-muscular cone, cataracts and detachment of retina.

The Moral Factor

The aim of boxing is punching your rival and knocking him unconscious. These physical side effects of this sport does bring morality into question. George Lundberg is the former editor of Journal of American Medical Association. He continues to appeal for total banning of boxing. In an interview of 2005 taken by Courier-Journal in Kentucky, he said that the intentional knocking out of a person and infliction of brain damage is simply morally unacceptable.

Arguments of Anti-Boxing Club

The sport is cruel and not different from an organized assault which will be prohibited in any context even if the participants indulge in it voluntarily as willingness or lack of will in any harmful endeavor is irrelevant as far as a healthy and civilized society is concerned. Thus, in some ways, boxing is similar to dueling which used to be allowed for many years in the past but was later rightfully banned. Where injuries take place accidentally in other forms of sports, causing a head injury to your rival by a knockout is not only allowed but is in fact extremely desirable and, in fact, one of the major goals of the game. Thus, boxing is clearly different and not defendable.

Though deaths during boxing are indeed rare, doctors believe it should be banned due to eye as well as brain injuries caused by getting punched on the head again and again and again. These harms go unnoticed when they actually occur but, later, create in the boxer’s life serious problems of gravity which cannot be ignored at all. Very few pro fighters are there whose brains remain unscathed at the end of their long career. Professional boxing gives violence glamor and respect with the dreams of turning rich, successful and famous by physical aggression. This is clearly sending vulnerable children the wrong message. Though boxing appears to offer a fast and easy path to wealth, it is actually a poor option. Besides the obvious health risks, boxers are economically exploited very often and even the big names may end up without a penny.

 

Advantages of Boxing

The game of boxing demands a very high level in athletic competence - power, swiftness, agility, coordination between hand and eye, fortitude and courage among many required traits. As a fitness oriented activity, boxing makes an average person improve the special attributes mentioned above without the need of taking a punch. If you wish to be in great shape while improving your health, you can certainly consider signing up for membership at the nearest boxing gym. Here are the reasons why.

Better Cardiovascular Health

You may listen to it so often. You must do cardio for preventing heart disease, burning calories and losing or at least maintaining weight. However doing cardio does not necessarily mean bounding on treadmills to gauge your minutes required as that would be extremely boring. The sole focus of cardio is placing reasonable amount of stress on lungs and heart so they are forced to make advantageous physiologic alterations for supporting higher level of physical activity. However it is totally up to you how you choose placing that stress. If you maintain your heart rate up while working out, you can kick, punch and jump your way towards a genuinely healthy heart in your nearest boxing gym.

Higher Body Strength

Obviously punching, jumping and kicking demands an unexpected level of strength. Just think for a while – pro heavy bags mostly weigh minimum 100 pounds. In a boxing workout, you punch and kick a bag a hundred times which requires both upper and lower body as well as core for making proper contact with your bag. Furthermore, boxing gyms mostly include more strength-training moves in a workout. For example, if you take a class at any 9Round, you do pushups, squats, planks and exercises of weighted medicine ball in your quick-paced 30 minutes of circuit workout.

Superior Hand-Eye Coordination

You may underestimate the significance of hand-eye coordination and the impact it has on your entire health but it plays an instrumental role in an individual’s fine and gross motor skills. People with better hand-eye coordination have quicker reflexes & reaction times; they have superior physical coordination in totality. This is especially vital while aging when balance and coordination are compromised which increases the probability of falls.

Boxing improves hand-eye coordination. When you have the daunting task of punching a speed bag or you are expected to spar with some partner, you have to see the target, react to it and hit it while it moves and changes position. It is indeed tough but if you practice hard, the hand-eye coordination is improved considerably.

Less Stress

Nearly any type of adequate or intense physical activity decreases stress. Mayo Clinic claims exercise boosts endorphins, improves mood, is a kind of meditation and betters sleep - all these factors reduce stress. However, at times, you require more than just walking in a park to make you forget stress, anxiety and tension. Boxing is an ideal outlet for this due to two reasons. Firstly, during workout, you usually switch between very intense exercise bouts and moderately intense recovery phases. If you force yourself through few minutes of very intense punching/kicking, you won’t have enough mental power remaining for worrying about how pathetic your job is or how messy your house is. Even while resting, you will focus on sucking wind or preparing mentally for another round instead of panicking on your otherwise tough schedule. Secondly, there is an unbelievably cathartic release about taking out your stress entirely on a punching bag. It is a feeling of empowerment which has to be experienced to be known.

Better Body Composition

Boxing is wonderful if you want to improve your body composition and even for weight loss. It is an amazing mechanism as it is the perfect combination of strength training moves, muscle building as well as cardio calorie torching bouts. By regular participation in a boxing session and adhering to a nutritious diet plan, you would certainly see changes to your shape as well as improvements in fat-mass percentage. If you seek a pat on your back, you would see changes in weight too.

Burning Fat

Boxing readily burns not less than 1000 calories in a session. However, it has an extra advantage as it is a highly intense training session. Not only will you burn loads of calories during it but also for hours after it. Usual cardio acts lack this post-training impact. Thus, boxing can be your first choice if it is about losing weight.

Better Muscle Tone

Typically, a boxer’s build is toned and well-defined without being bulky and, thus, it is ideal for toning up. It is due to the fact that punching is a quick repetitive action producing muscles which are toned taut contrary to the controlled, slow and heavy movements of body-building or lifting weights which generate bulk or size.

Stronger Bones & Ligaments

Resistance training makes your bones much stronger reducing progression of osteoporosis. In boxing, punching bags and focus pads grant resistance just like your bodyweight while performing pull ups, pushups, burpees, lunges and some other different exercises. Your tendons, joints and ligaments become stronger as a response to striving against resistance. Utilizing your bodyweight helps as well in maintaining or increasing lean muscle mass that is so vital for keeping metabolic rate burning at its highest capacity. This is obviously extremely important for losing body fat.

More Muscular Endurance

Boxing demands muscles to contract again and again causing them to fatigue. By training, muscles continue to contract for lengthier durations without tiring which, allows you to do harder training for longer time and, thus, burning higher number of calories.

Higher Core Stability

Anything that makes your body unstable demands core muscles working harder for keeping you balanced. Boxing demands many speedy rotational movements. Development of these core muscles allows punching hard while maintaining your balance as well.

More Strength More Power

Boxing is an ideal full-body workout. Punches properly thrown utilize your hips, legs, core, glutes, back, obliques, chest, shoulders and arms. Punching in opposition to resistance makes muscles contract with greater speed and force inculcating more power and strength in you.

More Body Awareness

Movement of many parts simultaneously demands good connection between brain and body. With practice and patience, this acquired focus and learned discipline will help in other sports and other activities as well.

Higher Confidence & Self-Esteem

Mastering techniques of boxing makes you feel on top of the world. The better the technique, the greater the force in your punch. Is not the noise heard on landing a powerful and accurate punch exactly on the focus pad’s sweet spot so damn satisfying? It certainly is.

Arguments of pro-boxing club

Boxing demands a high level of physical fitness. If you aim for success in it, boxing encourages young people to take care of their bodies. There is simply no intention and desire in it to hurt or damage the opponent for its own sake. Rather, the real aim is scoring highest number of points through hitting well-defined areas of the body. This sport inculcates discipline. Besides diet and exercise, it teaches people when to fight and also when not to fight. It emphasizes establishing mental as well as physical control. It also grants people skills and abilities of self-defense and increases their self-esteem including the art of defense when physically assaulted by chance. The huge majority among boxers train or fight not because they are crazy after money but because of the joy this sport brings in their otherwise ordinary lives.

No one is forced to pursue boxing or see a fight. Everyone does it through their free will and choice. If you don’t like boxing, you should simply ignore it. Critics are unfair in targeting boxing as it obviously only resembles a fight in contrast to other sports which have physical aggression like rugby or ice hockey in which there is a ball or a puck to focus on. Similarly, the high caliber of tactics and strategy applied by boxers are so often missed by unknowledgeable observers. Boxing is a means for many people to end their poverty. Other paths may never be suitable for an aspiring boxer such as college degrees or expensive trainings or some certifications. This sport does offer an alternative course of action for economic and social advancement. The minimum it provides without doubt is a strong and much needed sense of self-respect. Ask any boxer and he will tell you his moving story.

Improvements for Safety

There, obviously, cannot be a final solution to the problem of deaths in boxing just like any other sport in this world. Human error will always accompany every effort as nothing is totally foolproof. Nevertheless, there are ways to make boxing safer and prevent serious injuries in it.

Head Gear & Extra Padding

This may appear to be too obvious for recommendation but modern research carried out by experts and published in reputed journals reveals that protective headgear actually increases the probability of lasting brain trauma as well as concussions.

Participation Age

The study by Svinth (earlier mentioned) claimed that the average death age of boxers was almost 23. Assigning a minimum age for to-be boxers before they take on another player even for training wouldn’t just allow them to understand the risks better but also develop them more. This may prevent them from pursuing this sport’s competitive side.

Reduction of Rounds

Less number of rounds imply less chances of injury. However, Svinth’s study revealed that most deaths in boxing took place in round # 6, 10, 4, 8, 2 & 3. Thus, reduction of rounds is ineffective.

Scoring System

It is also suggested that having a point scoring system would be advantageous. It depends on how points are awarded. For instance, if 3 are for body shot and only 1 is for head, the attention would no longer be on the head. But it is obvious that this would change the sport and withdraw the game’s objective i.e. knockout.

Only Body Shots

Boxing does not include shots below the belt. How about introducing a rule on prohibition of shots above shoulders like rugby or ice hockey? This, again, will be a major transformation in boxing itself while the stress on the chest may lead to other kinds of injuries with a higher death rate. For example, damage to lungs and heart is much more fatal.

Thicker/Softer Mats

Mats used in boxing are layered very well. Those deaths due to falls as per Svinth’s study might be heavily influenced by the period prior to extra padding being applied to the turf of rings. While an upgrading in reduction of impact on the mats will need adjustment by boxers, it will eventually decrease the risk affiliated with knockout falling.

Training

There should be more detailed training for referees as far as warning signals of serious injuries are concerned. It should be a condition for boxing coaches to take courses on protection of players and the necessity of preserving boxers. Boxing is obviously a sport and it is also played for winning. Once you are pumped up with rush of blood and energy, there is just one target you see and that is victory. Thus, boxers cannot be fully relied upon as far as their own well-being is concerned. People responsible for managing matches and coaching athletes have to be aware of keeping boxers safe from dangers.

Challenge of Coach

Coaches or boxers do not wish to witness someone getting hurt seriously. If the opponent has been given a lot of punishment, they should be in a position to finish the contest. Obviously, this can be easily misused for stopping the fight’s flow or getting, for their boxer, another break but if rules were applied for them, this would increase awareness in the ring. This would have made the bloody fight between Blackwell and Eubank Jr. to end much earlier.

Conclusion

While the game of boxing does have inherent issues of health, whether major or minor, it must be said that it does not deserve to be banned altogether. Away from the limelight, it has a lot of good to offer as well which cannot be denied based on facts. Without ignoring the awful and tragic cases of severe injuries or death during boxing matches, it has to be stated that they are comparatively less in number if compared to sports in general and even professions as we must not forget that boxing is also a full-fledged profession. It is not being said that frequency of serious injuries must be reduced. What is being emphasized is that there are ways worthy of being introduced for reducing injury risks prior to a complete ban on boxing.

There are uncharted paths with a wide room for reformation as far as safety in boxing is concerned but it is up to the authorities to review this sport and alter it in view of latest medical or technological developments and capacities. A major issue with boxing is that it, often, has not reacted to possibilities of danger till a legal case or an unfortunate episode provokes it. However, boxers are aware of the risks while agreeing to take part fully despite them for multiple reasons. In the end, it is their own prerogative and what if they don’t purse or aspire for boxing, they actually might be fighting somewhere else in some other capacity with even far worse consequences. We can have hope and optimism that good things can result from this wave of anti-boxing sentiments and views causing this sport to alter its methods for better safety of the ones who adore Sweet Science.

It is not surprising that in the last 12 years, first Sweden, then Cuba and then Norway quit being part of the small club of nations where boxing is banned. If boxing would have been all bad and all negative, a prolific, sensitive, thought-provoking, emotional, intellectual, people’s favorite, politically accurate, non-controversial, inspiring and universal-appeal-oriented songwriter like Chris Martin of Coldplay would not have penned and composed one his most soulful and commercially hit songs to date named “Everglow” as a tribute to one of the biggest names in boxing history, Muhammad Ali as a testament of his legacy, influence and impact on America’s history, especially the world of sports. It is high time that we should be judicial and impartial to boxing without any bias or prejudice against it. Keep boxing and keep rocking but don’t ever forget your limits and boundaries!