On Wednesday, the Louisiana State Boxing and Wrestling Commission passed a rule prohibiting fighters with breast implants from competing in boxing or MMA related events. While at first glance the decision appears geared towards the protection of women at risk, further investigation has shown some conflict in the nature of their reasoning.
An unnamed female fighter was recently pulled out a scheduled match due to problems with her implants. In fear of legal recourse, the commission immediately instilled a 60-day ban on all fighters with breast implants until they could clarify potential financial ramifications.
According to The New Orleans Times-Picayune, the only way to bypass the ruling is by getting a surgeon’s approval, which may not be easy. “I don’t know of a single plastic surgeon who is going to allow his artistic work to be messed up,” Thomas Ferguson, a doctor on the commission, said to the Times. If Ferguson’s sentiments are common in the cosmetic surgery community, then they limit women to two choices: become a boxer/mixed martial artist/wrestler or find a line of work that doesn’t affect your physical appearance.
In 2009, a similar case arose in Europe. Sarah Blewden was an aspiring boxer who chose to get breast enlargement surgery. The Amateur Boxing Association (ABA) denied Blewden’s license and told her that she would not be able to compete, even with approved breast protection. Their primary concern was that the implants were in danger of being damaged. Luckily, Blewden was able to find the Muai Thai community more welcoming.
During a meeting at the Louisiana State Capital, Commissioner Harold Williams said “If they want to look good, then they don’t have to be in the ring.”
The greatest concern with statements like those of Harold Williams may be among women’s rights advocates, especially those who are enthusiastic about the prospect of women being accepted into a traditionally male dominated sport. The question of medical safety is absolutely valid, however the argument as it’s presented by such commentary lends itself more to emotional perception and opinion rather than scientific fact or a fighter’s health and wellbeing.