Boxing needs safety measures

Last week, HBO viewers and those attending championship boxing at the XL Center in Hartford witnessed one of the most horrific knockouts in recent memory.

In the third round of the co-feature match between Harry Joe Yorgey and Alfredo Angulo, it became apparent that Angulo was the dominant fighter. Yorgey was rendered unconscious, and reminded all present of the brutality of this sport.

In an age when awareness of head injury in sports has been heightened, something must be done about the sport of boxing where the only way to score points is to neurologically impair the opponent.

Attempts to ban boxing have been misguided and have failed miserably. Boxing is a not just a sport, it is part of the American cultural fabric. Boxing can represent a vehicle for young men to gain respect in their communities while avoiding negative peer pressure.

Safety measures must be instituted nationally to reduce permanent neurological injury to boxers:

• Every professional fighter (both boxers and mixed martial artists) must have a complete annual neurological examination.
• Exposure to head blows must be limited during a fighter’s career. This can be done by regulating the number of rounds fought, the total number of fights and/or age of the fighter.
• A system of national regulation must be put in place similar to other sports. The current statewide commission system offers too much variability and federal regulation may be cumbersome.

This week, the Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame will induct new members at the Mohegan Sun Casino. As at most similar affairs, there will be a lot of discussion about “the good old days.” Wouldn’t it be great if the legacy left behind by these brave men was to make their sport safer?

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