Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Paediatric Society issued a policy statement on boxing participation by children and adolescents. The position states that they “…oppose boxing and, in particular, discourage participation by children and adolescents.”
The position statement goes on to encourage alternative sports such as “swimming, tennis, basketball and volleyball.” This position is based on limited data and doesn’t account for many intangible advantages or disadvantages.
Amateur boxing is highly regulated under the watchful eyes of experienced coaches. Physicians are present for events and pre-fight and post-fight physicals are required.
Head protection and heavily padded gloves protect against serious injury. Bouts are brief and sportsmanship is stressed. Style and finesse are the principal ways to score points and officials are quick to end a one-sided match.
The health advantages for amateur boxers are numerous. Each participant must train regularly to build strength and stamina. The structure of a boxing gym often substitutes for a stable home life.
Boxing provides a reason to avoid tobacco, alcohol and criminal mischief.
Jody Sheeley owned the Second Chance Gym in Norwich and has been involved in amateur boxing for many years. “Amateur boxing helps build self-confidence, especially for children who don’t do well in team sports,” said Sheeley. In his experience, he has never seen a youngster require emergency medical care as a result of an amateur boxing match.
Amateur boxing has provided a healthy outlet for many young people who do not have access to other competitive sports that require significant financial investment. It is a sport that deserves public support and not restriction.