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Debate: Boxing ban

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Should boxing be banned?

Background and context

Boxing is a very popular sport, enjoyed by millions across the world. It is also a dangerous sport. Over 1000 boxers have died during or just after fights in the past one hundred years.
Many more have been damaged for life by injuries in the boxing ring. Some of these victims were professional boxers who made their living from the sport. Others were amateurs boxing for fitness and fun, rather than for money. Sometimes it seems to be just one punch which does the damage. In other cases it seems to be the overall effect of hundreds of punches over many fights. For these reasons medical associations speaking for doctors all over the world have called for boxing to be banned. Asking “should boxing be banned?” usually makes for a good debate. As well as issues which are particular to boxing, the debate brings in arguments of wider importance. For example, the purpose of sport, how much freedom people should have, role models and the media, and whether banning something might make problems worse. Issues like these often come up in debates and thinking about boxing can be a helpful way to learn about them.

Argument #1


Normal fights has already caused death. That is just a normal fight, but when you think of boxing, can you imagine what would happen to 2 kids who are punching each other on the head, the ribs, and most importantly the chest which contains our lungs and heart. The unecessary deaths could even cause misery among the family.

Boxing is a very dangerous sport. Every year both amateur and professional boxers die in matches, or afterwards as a result of injuries. Others, such as Michael Watson, are disabled for life as a result of beatings in the ring. Medical studies also show that boxing can lead to long-term brain-damage, and to illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease. For these reasons all the major medical associations call for an end to boxing. Banning boxing would mean an end to needless deaths, injuries and brain-damage.


Boxers know the risks of their sport and choose freely to fight. They are also well-paid for the dangers of fighting. We have to allow people to make their own decisions in life. The government should not ban something adults choose to do unless it clearly affects other people. In boxing, it is the boxer who takes the risk and who will pay the price, no one else. Other sports are also dangerous, for example horse-riding, skiing or parachuting - should we ban those too?

Argument #2


Boxing is unlike any other sport. The aim of boxing is to hurt the other man, and above all to knock him out. The sport appeals to the worst and most violent parts of human nature. Such a savage sport has no place in modern society. We should not let men do this to each other. We should not offer money to encourage them to fight. We should also ban it as a form of public entertainment.


With running, boxing is the purest form of sport. All sport is about testing the human body and reactions against others. Boxing does this in the most simple and direct way possible. There is no point trying to deny our human nature - man is an aggressive animal and sports provide a safe outlet for that aggression. Contact sports such as rugby, American Football or Ice Hockey can also be brutal. Society was much less violent sixty or seventy years ago when children were often taught to box at school. That way they learned to control their aggression and to keep violence for the ring.

Argument #3


Boxing exploits young men (and sometimes women now). Some start before the age of ten. They often don’t have enough education to make a proper decision about the risks of their sport even once they are adults. They train hard for long hours, trusting a coach to prepare their body and a manager to arrange fights and handle money. Often those around the boxer do very well at his (or her) expense. This gives them a reason to make the fighter take more fights, even if that would be dangerous. Even successful champions (e.g. Mike Tyson) often end up broke and desperate.


Some boxers have been exploited, and that is wrong. And some have “wasted” their money on high-living - just like rock stars or footballers do. Should the government stop them spending their own money as they wish? Many boxers do handle their money and other affairs sensibly, for example, Evander Holyfield, or Lennox Lewis. More important is the way boxing offers a way out of poverty for working class boys. There isn’t much hope in the inner cities. Isn’t it better for children to want to be boxers when they grow up than drug dealers and gangsters?

Argument #4


Boxing has to have stricter rules than other sports because it is so much more dangerous. Injuries happen in other sports but they are accidental. In boxing the injuries are the point of the sport and they are much more serious. In spite of all the regulations, deaths and serious injuries take place every year in boxing. And they happen in amateur fights as well as professional ones, so headguards seem to make little difference. Clearly it is not possible to control boxing well enough so that it is safe. The only way to make boxing safe is to ban it.


Those in charge of boxing work hard to make sure that it is as safe as possible. Both professional and amateur fights are run under very strict rules to make the risks as small as possible. Medical staff and equipment have to be on hand, and boxers are checked before fights to make sure they are fit enough to take part. Having different weight divisions (Lightweight, Middleweight, Heavyweight, etc.) means that fights should not be too unequal. Referees are there to stop fights if necessary. Amateur fighters wear headguards and aim to score points rather than knockouts. No other sport takes such care with its athletes.

Argument #5


Boxing makes violence look cool. The money and fame a few champion boxers get for hitting people sends the wrong message to young people. It isn’t just the fights themselves which are the problem. Fighting often breaks out at publicity events, or even in the audience.


Boxing isn’t just about a few minutes of violent activity. It is also about thousands of hours of hard training and self-discipline - that’s not a bad message to send to young people. Sports such as pro-wrestling, where violence is staged like a show are much more dangerous. At least in boxing it is obvious that getting hit hurts and does lasting damage. In any case, most boxing is on television too late at night to have much effect on young children.

Argument #6


There is no reason to think that if boxing was banned it would continue “underground”. Cockfighting and badger baiting were banned and they are almost unheard of. If caught, those breaking the law by organising or watching a boxing match could be punished severely. This will scare off others from trying to stage fights in future. Without television coverage there will be no money left in boxing. It is not as if boxers have nothing else to do. With their athletic talents they could make it in other sports instead.


Making boxing illegal would just drive it “underground”. It would still go on, in remote barns and cellars, because men would still want to fight and others would still be prepared to pay to see them. Banning drugs or underage drinking hasn’t stopped people from doing those things. Once boxing is underground, it cannot be regulated and fights will become much more dangerous. Bare fists may be used rather than gloves, fights may go on until one boxer is knocked out, and there will be no medical support when injuries do come about. Boxing is much safer when it is legal but regulated.

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