Boxer's Death After Fight Reignites Debate About Whether The Sport Should Be Banned
Boxing has lost another athlete after Russian fighter Maxim Dadashev died from injuries sustained in a bout in America.
The light-welterweight fighter was beaten in the 11th round in Maryland, USA, after trainer Buddy McGirt stopped the bout. The boxer then struggled to exit the ring and reportedly vomited before losing consciousness.
He underwent major brain surgery following the fight and had the right side of his skull removed to ease brain swelling after suffering a subdural haematoma, according to The Sun.
While there are plenty of people that absolutely froth over the sport, there's no denying that it's dangerous for the athletes involved.
When these tragic deaths happen, they invariably reignite the debate around whether boxing should be allowed to continue.
There have been a few athletes who have died inside the ring, some have died a few hours or days later and the rest usually develop brain damage later in life.
According to the BBC, 475 boxers have died between 1946 to 2015.
At face value, boxing is two people, whose sole purpose is to belt the absolute living shit out of each other until one is knocked unconscious or the 12 rounds is complete.
It's not hard to understand why people want to ban it.
The British Medical Association and the World Medical Association are firmly against the sport, with the WMA saying: "Unlike other sports, [boxing's] basic intent is to produce bodily harm by specifically targeting the head.
"Studies show that boxing is associated with devastating short-term injuries and chronic neurological damage on the participants in the long term."
Brain injury charity Headway has led calls for the sport to be banned, adding that it causes unnecessary damage to people's bodies.
Chief Executive Peter McCabe has told LADbible: "I've often debated with boxers and I'm not sure they're fully aware of the risk. I think young men often see themselves as invincible and I think they feel that it won't happen to them."
It's worth pointing out that if you ban boxing due to the risk it poses to an athlete's brain then it would set the precedent for a swath of sports to be similarly ditched. While head shots aren't always the main goal in other mixed martial art sports, like UFC, judo and muay thai, they'd all have to be ditched on the same principle.
A landmark study found that 99 percent of NFL players' brains that were donated for research were found to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease that crops up as a result of repeated trauma to the head. Another study found footballers could suffer long-term brain damage after their career because of heading the ball so many times
But Mr McCabe makes this distinction for the debate around banning boxing, telling us: "The objective in a rugby match is to get the ball across the try line. The objective in boxing is to render your opponent senseless by repeated blows to the head.
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"The ultimate victory in boxing is a knockout and that's knocking another human being unconscious."
One thing the CEO finds bewildering about the sport is when a referee calls a match for safety reasons, the crowd can sometimes get angry because they feel they haven't got their money's worth.
"That's really barbaric because it means they want to see someone harmed and damaged," he tells us. "The difficulty is that nobody can see what's going on inside the skull of another human being.
"When a blow lands, the brain then moves around inside the skull and it collides with the opposite side and then it comes back again. You've got all this pulling and stretching and tearing of the brain matter and that can cause all sorts of injuries.
"These injuries don't become apparent until after their career is over."
But banning a huge sport like boxing would cause an almighty shitstorm as you'd put tons of people out of work, including the athletes, the promoters, the commentators and so on.
Chairman of the Australian Ringside Medicine Association Dr Peter Lewis says that at the end of the day, banning boxing would violate people's civil liberties.
He's told LADbible: "The position I come from is not unlike the situation with banning abortion or banning smoking, I think these things should be controlled by an appropriate safety factor.
"Do I support guys getting punched in the head as a form of recreation? Nah, not really.
"But if they're going to do it, I'd rather there be a good quality doctor on hand ring-side. I think they have the right to do it; they're consenting adults and they should make the decisions themselves."
Dr Lewis says there are plenty of sports, like rock fishing and motorsport, where the risk to injury is incredibly high. His research found there are 7.6 deaths per 100,000 athletes in boxing, compared to 128 in horse racing, 126 for skydiving and 51 for mountaineering.
After working as the main ringside doctor in Melbourne, Australia for 30 years, and overseeing roughly 30,000 fights, he only ever dealt with one death. But he says the criticism of the sport is unfairly on the athlete and should instead be focused on other areas.
When the Marquis of Queensberry rules came into force in 1867, it required boxers to wear gloves to improve the all-round safety of the sport. While the gloves do indeed limit the amount of superficial facial injuries, the British Medical Journal says: "Gloves are designed to protect the fists of the wearer and do nothing to prevent brain injury unless they are so large as to be unwieldy."
The BMJ says bareknuckle boxers were able to last much longer than modern athletes because of the lack of gloves.
Dr Lewis tells us that a lot of the brain damage they receive is a result of sparring. He says coaches have a culture of 'toughening people up' through these brutal training sessions and athletes spend thousands more hours in that environment compared to during a match.
But, his biggest critique is for the judges.
"What we need to do is tweak the system so there's more reward for style and ring craftsmanship and body-work, and less reward for punching blokes in the head," he says.
While Maxim Dadashev's death is unlikely to provoke any major changes to the sport, Headway Chief Executive Peter McCabe says there's one group of people within boxing that also have questions to answer.
"There are a number of people who make a lot of money by encouraging young people into the ring and they never put themselves in harm's way. I think there are some moral issues there."
Featured Image Credit: PA
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