Boxing remains a dangerous sport

It has been reported that since 1890 over 1876 fighters have died from injuries sustained in the ring.

The first reported death in South Africa dates back to 1889 and since then there have been a total of 55 professional ring deaths and 26 amateurs.

The last recorded death in South Africa before Buthelezi’s death was that of Herbert Nkabedi who died on April 29, 2017, a day after being knocked out in the sixth round by Willis Baloyi at Carnival City in Brakpan.

After a fighter’s death, there will always be calls to ban boxing, and administrators, promoters, fighters, supporters and others involved in the sport will not be surprised by the reaction.

Every time a boxer sustains life-threatening injuries, cries are raised for governments to declare boxing illegal.

However, despite numerous campaigns to eradicate boxing, the sport remains hugely popular in many countries.

Although women’s boxing has made great strides over the past decade, both as an Olympic sport for amateurs and as a professional activity, there have also been deaths in the ring.

And as long as top boxers are making millions of dollars, ban boxing campaigns are highly unlikely to take off.

It’s hard to argue with those who want boxing banned because when two fighters enter the ring, the basic idea is that they will try to get knocked out.

It has been said many times that boxing is the only great sport in which the primary objective is to inflict maximum physical damage on an opponent.

But many believe that anyone should have the right to fight if they want to make a career out of boxing.

They argue, with some justification, that banning boxing will only drive it underground, where there will be less surveillance and likely more deaths.

For many years, boxing has been a way out of poverty, a path to a decent life if not wealth.

When it was banned in countries like Sweden and Norway, fighters simply moved to countries where they could use their talents and pursue their dreams.

In Africa, Mexico, the United States, the Philippines and many other countries, boxing provides an escape from crime, drugs and death on the streets.

Through boxing, many South Africans have overcome adverse circumstances and disadvantages to rise above their contemporaries.

Brian Mitchell, Lehlohonolo Ledwaba, Vuyani Bungu, Sugarboy Malinga, Phillip Ndou and a long list of others became more than boxing champions, they became leaders in whose footsteps others followed.

There is no doubt that boxing has always been, since the days of bare-knuckle fighting, a controversial sport.

Influential opinion makers, including medical experts, have condemned boxing as a barbaric sport.

Others, with more practical experience, and some with vested interests vigorously defended boxing and the rights of boxers.

Much has been done to improve safety measures to limit serious injuries and fatalities.

Partly as a result of campaigns to ban the sport, boxing authorities introduced taller gloves and shorter bouts, stricter rules and supervision, and headgear for fans, which then been removed.

In addition to thorough pre-fight medicals, doctors have also had the right and responsibility to stop fights whenever they deem it necessary. This is only allowed in certain countries.

But no matter what administrators do, there will always be serious injuries and deaths in boxing, just as there are similar tragedies in many other sports.

Several fighters who later became world champions suffered the trauma of being involved in fights that resulted in the death of their opponents.

Among them were five heavyweights Bob Fitzsimmons, Jess Willard, Max Baer, ​​Primo Carnera and Ezzard Charles.

Con Riordan collapsed in the second round of an exhibition fight with Fitzsimmons and died.

Bull Young was stopped in the 11th round of a fight against Willard and died, as did Frankie Campbell, whom Baer knocked out in the fifth round.

Ernie Schaaf died after collapsing in the 13th round of a fight with Carnera and Sam Baroudi died after being knocked out by Charles.

Curiously, records indicate that top-class heavyweights aren’t as prone to serious injury as boxers in the lighter divisions.

The heavyweight division has no upper limit and the difference in weight can be alarming at times. Yet the biggest men in boxing often go ten or 12 rounds with no problem.

In the lighter divisions, many boxers struggle to weigh under the limit.

They, usually with the knowledge of their trainers, revert to harsh diets, bordering on starvation, as well as dehydration and the use of various weight loss products.

Many fighters leave it too late to reach the required weight. They believe that if they can lose the last few grams just before the weigh-in, they can rehydrate and be strong enough when the fight begins.

Scientists say a boxer shouldn’t exceed the limit by more than 4.5% two to three weeks before a fight.

Other experts believe that boxers should participate in a series of mandatory weigh-ins before any fight. If the rules are broken, the fight must be called off.

This could cause problems for promoters, sponsors and broadcasters, but it is the boxers’ welfare that matters.

Boxing, and most other sports, will never be completely safe. But banning boxing worldwide will be impossible.

And as long as the sport survives in some countries, boxers elsewhere will cross borders to compete and earn a living.

The unknown factor is always what happens in sparring sessions and what damage a fighter takes.

In Buthelezi’s case, he was reportedly leading at the time of the tenth-round stoppage.

Looking at the facts after this tragic outcome, you must be wondering why a fighter with only four professional fights and 13 rounds in the professional ring is allowed to enter a 10 round title fight?

There is no doubt that boxing is a brutal sport and brain trauma can happen.

Among some of the great world champions who suffered damage was Aaron Prior, who died in October 2016 aged 60 and suffering from dementia.

One of Britain’s greatest fighters to never win a world title, Herold Graham ‘Bomber’ ended up in the psychiatric ward of a north London hospital with short-term memory loss.

In 1934, Nat Fleischer, the first editor of The Ring magazine, wrote that he knew nearly 40 fighters who had been institutionalized for punch drunkenness.

Another sad case is that of Ralph Dupas of New Orleans who was stopped in two rounds by South African Willie in September 1964 and ended up pushing shopping carts through Las Vegas parking lots, collecting bottles to sell. and earn money.

He spent his final years being diagnosed with pugilistic dementia and spent years staring at walls before his death.

Other major world champions who suffered damage were Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson, Johnny Bratton and Emile Griffith.

One of the saddest cases was when heavyweight Jerry Quarry was taken into full-time care and needed help shaving, showering and putting on his socks.