On the 30th September 2016, 25-year-old professional boxer, Mike Towell from Dundee, Scotland tragically lost his life after suffering severe bleeding to the brain in a bout he lost. He was immediately taken to Queen Elizabeth university hospital on the Thursday and was later declared dead on the Friday. It inevitably again raised questions about the dangerous consequences of boxing as a modern sport and whether or not it should have any place in this current age.
Just earlier this year, British Boxer Nick Blackwell, who suffered a 10-round stoppage defeat to Chris Eubank Jr collapsed in the ring and was later placed into a medically induced coma after being rushed to hospital. It was an eerily reminiscent of Eubank Senior’s infamous bout with Michael Watson in 1991 in which Watson later spent 40 days in a coma and had a total of 6 operations on his brain to remove blood clots. Nick Blackwell has since been forced to cut his career short and retire based on medical recommendation.
The British Medical Association have concurred that boxing injuries could potentially be fatal such as brain damage and life threatening diseases such as Parkinson’s, which the late Muhammad Ali notoriously suffered with for over 30 years before his death earlier this year.
The World Medical Association has called for boxing to be banned completely. A leading doctor holds the view that boxing leads to reduced brain function and ongoing concussions. It was also suggested that it could potentially lead to ruptures in the brain or haematoma.
The Labour Party UK MP, Paul Flynn tried to pass two private bills to ban punches to the head in 1998 and 2005, both attempts were however, unsuccessful. Flynn, called on the government to review the current procedures in boxing and to look at all the issues of concussion and damage to the head.
The counter argument against boxing being banned seems to be the known element of risk-taking. Boxers are aware of the risks imposed upon them before signing up for a professional career. And without risk in boxing, often there is no reward. Boxing participation has also gone up in the UK, with the active people’s survey recording statistics of 140,400 in 2012, a 31% increase from the 106,800 in 2008. It is one of only 5 sports that has increased in participation in the UK that is funded by Sport England over a 4-year period.
Boxing has long been used as a tool to tackle social disadvantage as well as encourage discipline for the disengaged. Many schools now use non-contact boxing to improve academic results. For many, boxing is a source of hope, gives many a sense of belonging, respect and a future.
Photo credit: Pixabay
The date of article publication: 09 October 2016
Author: Zia Ahmed
Graduated with a BA (Hons) in Sport Management from Loughborough University, UK. Ahmed writes regularly on sports science and relevant subjects. His other areas of interest are business development, customer service and social media marketing.