For the first time in more than 30 years, men competing in boxing at the Rio Olympics did not wear protective headgear. While observers might wonder why officials who govern a violent sport known to produce concussions would remove protective gear, research conducted on amateur bouts following the rule change by the AIBA concluded that boxers who competed without headgear were less likely to experience acute brain injury than those who wore head protection. The research examined two scenarios.
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Something is missing from Olympics boxing this year. Did you notice? This year, the Olympics ditched boxing headgear for the first time since , making it look a lot more like professional boxing. Counterintuitively, referees had to stop matches for head injuries aka likely concussions more often when boxers were wearing headgear, according to an AIBA study. But whether ditching headgear actually makes boxers safer—especially from non-concussion injuries—is, well, more complicated. In fact, female Olympians will still be wearing headgear in boxing, due to lack of safety data. AIBA did not respond to requests for comment. What almost everyone can agree on is that foam padding does little to protect against concussions and knockout blows. Plus, the headgear still leaves boxers vulnerable to punches to the jaw, which are most likely to cause concussions because they whip the head around. This causes concussions.
The International Amateur Boxing Association has confirmed that headguards will be removed from men's amateur boxing but not for women. Headguards were first introduced into competition in but will be removed again for October's World Amateur Boxing Championships in Kazakhstan. The decision was based on two separate studies which put forward evidence that the removal will decrease concussions. AIBA's medical commission studied more than 2, bouts and independent research in a recent article, which studied 30, contests over 59 years, in the British Journal of Sports Medicine both supported the removal. The International Olympic Committee has yet to officially confirm that headguards will be removed for the Rio Olympics but their medical commission were part of the discussion process with AIBA. Some elite male amateur boxers have competed already without headguards in the World Series of Boxing which is a semi-professional franchise-based branch of AIBA in which Great Britain are represented by British Lionhearts. WSB began in and includes team and individual competitions, with the latter offering Olympic places for successful participants.
November was a lousy month for boxing. Less than two months later, boxing woke up to an existential catastrophe. In the January issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association , numerous doctors and medical professionals, citing scientific studies along with the recent death of Kim Duk-Koo and the travesty of Holmes vs. Cobb, called for a ban on boxing. Still reeling from its calamitous November and facing a public relations nightmare, the International Boxing Association AIBA responded with an absurdity: From that point on, the group declared, all amateur boxers, including those fighting at the Olympics, would be required to wear headgear. The problem was their solution was merely a cosmetic one, a public relations move designed to cover up a problem rather than solve it. Headgear looked safe so it must be safe, science and humanity be damned. The rule will go ahead for Rio. He found that in the 7, rounds that took place with boxers wearing headgear, the rate of concussion was 0. It was all just another lie agreed upon in a sport lousy with superstitions, another medical mass delusion marring the good name of fighting, like weight-cutting and abstaining from sex before fights.