What is missing from Olympic boxing this year?
It is something that is easy to miss because it does make the sport even more interesting to watch, at least for us viewers.
However, it is harder to tell what the feelings of the boxers might be about the change.
While we get to view more easily the; facial contortions, the grimaces as punches are thrown or even received and the smiles of satisfaction when a punch is well delivered; because Olympic boxing this year chose to ditch boxing headgear, the boxers themselves, however, look less protected.
Boxing headgear was introduced for Olympic boxing in 1984. It was to protect the boxer from concussions and other less discernible head injuries which could result from a heavy punch to the head. So why let them go? Are the Olympic organizers now less concerned about the fate of the boxers?
The answer to that is simply, ‘no’. Although there is no concrete evidence that ditching headgear makes boxers safer, the International Boxing Association or AIBA has shown that referees had to stop matches for head injuries more often when boxers were wearing headgear.
Some reasons given for this fact include;
- Foam padding offers little protection against concussions and knockout blows, if a boxer punches his opponent hard enough, he can overwhelm the foam’s ability to absorb energy.
- The headgear still leaves the boxers jaw unprotected and punches to the jaw are most likely to cause concussions because they whip the head around.
- Headgear also makes it tougher to see, so the boxers can’t dodge as well.
- The headgear creates a false sense of safety and boxers tend to take more risks, allowing themselves to be hit on the head.
- Finally, it makes the boxer’s head a bigger target.
These were some of the reasons considered prior to scrapping headgear for male boxers in this year’s Olympic boxing. That is why the boxing matches in this year’s Olympics resemble, more closely, professional boxing.