Boxing has always been a sport surrounded with controversy. It is known for its brutal nature, pitching two athletes against each other and allowing them to battle each other until one gain advantage over his opponent by rendering him unconscious. Yet this brutal sport still manages to attract countless fans despite its inherent danger which proved deadly in many occasions. So is it time then for the civilized world to put an end this unjustified sport?
Hundreds of boxers have died due to brain damage as a result of taking multiple hard blows to their heads. Medical evidence suggests that boxers risk long term brain damage due to cumulative haemorrhaging of the blood vessels surrounding the brain. A British Medical Association (BMA) spokeswoman showed her concern by asking: “How many more brain-damaged boxers do there have to be before boxing is banned?”. The BMA is an association that has been trying to outlaw boxing since 1982. It claimed that boxing is a morally wrong sport which has been designed to intentionally to cause damage in the boxers’ brains. However, its pleas have largely fallen on deaf ears and were also criticized by many. The only country, which called for boxing to be banned so far, is Iceland.
Another reason to support why boxing should be outlawed is the negative influence it has over the younger generation. According to an article from ‘American Sociological Review’, in a study attempting to discover whether mass media violence triggers additional aggressive behavior, it is proven that laboratory subjects exposed to violent material on film tend to behave more aggressively than those who are not exposed to such material. As children are very impressionable, they tend to emulate whatever they see on television and watching boxing on television might encourage aggressive behavior among them. Some of these children may also regard boxers as their role models and grow up wanting to be boxers too. This is contradictory because as an article from ‘Boxing and Society’ noted, none of the professional boxers the author of this article met were eager to have any of their children embark on a career in the the ring. For them boxing was the best way to exchange their ‘body capital’ for a livelihood, but they wanted better futures for their children.
Even though there are many people advocating that boxing should be banned, there are also many who are against the idea. One such person is Dr. Nigel Warburton of the Open University in the Journal of Medical Ethics. He stated that for the years 1986 to 1992, boxing accounted for only three deaths in Wales in England compared with the 77 deaths from motor sports, 69 from air sports, 54 from mountaineering, 40 from ball games and 28 from horse riding. He added that it is also clear that drinking and smoking pose a far greater risk to long term well-being than does a career in boxing but yet there has not been a call for the banning of these activities.
Personally, I agree with what Dr. Warburton that arguments to outlaw boxing are not justified. As the “Ban Boxing” editorial once pointed out: “The question is whether boxing is pernicious enough to join drug use, prostitution, and several other “victimless” pastimes deemed illegal”. My answer to that question would certainly be no. I believe that you cannot totally outlaw a sport. If boxing is to be banned, people will still do it, either in some other countries, in offshore barges, or at worst, underground. If this happens, it will be a much worse situation as there will not be any proper medical help, thus putting the boxers at a higher health risk. To me the solution to this debate lies in further reforms in boxing’s practices. For example, if blows to the genitalia are not allowed in the sport, then so should blows to the brain. Also, since boxing is currently a blend of skilled sport and savage fighting, it should be converted to just a skilled sport without the savagery. Fights will become bouts to be won or lost based on points like many other sports. This way boxers will not have the mentality that they need to defeat their opponents until they are unconscious anymore and, at the same time, make boxing a less brutal and violent sport.