In a Word . . .

. . . Boxing

 

It is time we got serious about boxing.

Former rugby players in New Zealand are being asked to donate their brains when they die to research teams at the University of Auckland. It is for a a study they are conducting there into the long-term effects of concussion.

Last month in Dublin, retired jockey Ruby Walsh presented a cheque of €50,000 on behalf of the Irish Injured Jockey’s fund for research into the effects of concussion in horse racing.

He spoke of jockeys who might “feel dizzy and you know when you stand up and you’re thinking ‘I fell a second ago and yet the horses are 12 seconds away, so where did those 11 seconds go?’.”

In the US, the list of American footballers diagnosed post-mortem with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative disease caused by repeated head injuries, or who had reported symptoms of CTE when alive, just grows and grows.

In soccer, blows-to-the-head impact occur in headers, corner kicks, or whenever players are in close physical contact.

Then there is boxing. In time I believe (and hope) this “sport” will be banned. Its primary focus is on blows to head, particularly the face.

According to its rules, you cannot hit below the belt, hold, trip, kick, head-butt, wrestle, bite, spit on or push, punch your opponent in the back, the back of his/her head or neck, or in the kidneys. All else is fair. Mad!

Instead, you hit your opponent in the head as directly and as hard as you can, rendering him/her unconscious. That way you win, by a knockout.

In no other sport is hitting the head a main objective. In no other sport is there such reward for rendering your opponent unconscious. In no other sport is this considered sport.

Each year, it is estimated that 13 boxers are killed in the ring. It is why medical associations all around the world have called for it to be banned.

Delight at Katie Taylor’s win over Christina Linardatou in the Manchester Arena last November was marred for many by the sight of her swollen face with one eye shut in media interviews afterwards. That is sport?

Boxing, from box, meaning ‘a blow’. Thought to be derived from Middle Dutch boke, Middle High German buc, and Danish bask, all meaning ‘a blow’.

inaword@irishtimes.com

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