Home News Boxing Are Fighters Safer with or without Headgear?

Are Fighters Safer with or without Headgear?

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(Anthony Ogogo of England (red) competes against Eamonn of O'Kane of Northern Ireland (blue) in the Middle Weight (75kg) Men Finals Gold Medal Bout at Talkatora Indoor Stadium on day ten of the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games on October 13, 2010 in Delhi, India. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Seoul’s AIBA Boxing President Ching-Kuo Wu has made the decision to remove headgear due to recent statistics that prove that the number of concussions are lower when fighters fight without the headgear. These numbers came from extensive research by the association’s own medical commission as well as six other independent organizations that included data compiled from more than 30,000 bouts. However, Wu’s decision is a little misleading and leads one to believe that the headgear is causing some kind of damage to the fighters. Instead, it is the fighters themselves who are responsible for these concussion numbers due to the mental approach they’re taking into their fights.

olympic.sportsportal.org
(Photo via olympic.sportsportal.org)

“The problem was that it led to boxers not thinking to protect their heads, so when they were defending they didn’t care so much about getting hit in the head…by removing headgear, it has changed the way boxers and coaches prepare, it has changed tactics. Now you have to defend better, use good techniques to protect your head,” Wu told the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) Congress.

So it’s not as though the protective gear doesn’t work. If the fighters could figure out how to protect their heads with the gear on as if it were off, that would be the safest way to go about the situation. The fighters’ false sense of security is similar to what happens in NASCAR or other extreme sports. Drivers in NASCAR often drive recklessly because they have extra seat belts and a protective helmet. If they were driving at normal 0-100 mph speeds, then that extra protection would surely help. But when you’re traveling at more that 200 mph, they may need a little more. Skateboarders are occasionally guilty of this same problem simply because they are laced up with knees pads, elbow pads and a helmet.

All that said, it’s easy to get injured with or without protective gear. When using headgear, don’t overestimate how protected you are. In short, don’t let the ‘protective’ gear “go to your head.”

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  • JohnEngelman

    This is an excellent article. When I saw the title I thought the author would argue against headgear. That would be counter intuitive, and barely believable.

    I do think headgear should protect the chin. That is the most vulnerable part of a competitor’s head. I also think headgear should be mandatory in professional boxing and MMA contests.

    I like to see a good, clean contest. I do not like to see people get hurt. Boxing and MMA will never become as safe as tennis. Nevertheless, the possibility of permanent injuries should be reduced as much as possible.

  • Paulie Gloves

    Good and thoughtful article with solid points. One consideration in regards to the use of head gear should be the fighters defensive skill set. Initially it may be best to start fighters in head gear and then fade as skills increase. I found that, at some point when i became more defensively proficient, head gear actually increased the likelihood of getting hit because it increased the target size. Well done!