our boxers in grave danger

CAUGHT: Edward Mpofu and his trainer Eugene Khanyile trying to avoid Boxing South Africa from examining Mpofu's gloves, which were suspected of being wrapped in hardening plaster. © Unknown.
CAUGHT: Edward Mpofu and his trainer Eugene Khanyile trying to avoid Boxing South Africa from examining Mpofu's gloves, which were suspected of being wrapped in hardening plaster. © Unknown.

Bongani Magasela

Bongani Magasela

Improper supervision by trainers, and the failure by commissions to take intelligent actions during boxers' preparations for fights could be a contributing factor to serious injuries that lead to death.

I have read that some doctors say most head damage in boxing come from blows on parts other than the head.

But my conviction is that disregard of a fighters' unfitness to continue in this strenuous sport, and greed on the part of promoters and managers, contribute enormously to permanent injuries or death.

I have witnessed fighters take it often on the chin and head while crowds roar in approval and commissions sitting at the ringside enjoying the spectacle that has many-a-time led to the hospitalisation of fighters.

Citizens assume that injuries causing permanent injury, coma and death, were sustained during that one fight. They then call for the banishment of the noble art of boxing.

But the untold truth is that most boxers suffer severe injuries in their gyms where most sparring sessions are fierce.

These sessions are meant for perfecting a certain skill and predatory instinct so no power punching is required there because a boxer or boxers preparing for fight/s shed weight, and that leaves him/them weak.

Some promoters, intending to build the careers of certain fighters, offer their opponent/s a purse money he/they cannot refuse (to throw fights) and they do that in a very short space of time while their favoured fighters are informed way in advance.

Ordinary people always confuse being in the gym everyday to preparing for a particular fight. They think being in the gym everyday means that boxer/s can fight anybody, any time and anywhere.

Preparing for a particular fight requires time to practise ways and means to counter the opponent's style before they can worry about the actual level of fitness.

Remember, not all boxers enjoy the advantages of a proper diet which involves supplements. They eat junk food but train like exercising is getting out of fashion, which is in any way what this hard sport requires.

Here is a relevant Picture:

Boxer A, with a walking weight of 70kg, gets a fight in two weeks - he must come down to 55kg. That means no food and water. He wants that R6 000 purse money because he's always earned R1 000, if lucky, for a four rounder.

He spars with opponents who weigh around 70kg and the latter go hard during sparring. Boxer A gets hurt, weathers the storm until he finally makes the required weight limit.

Note that he has been eating junk food. After making the weight, he rushes home, loads his stomach with more junk, thinking that will help him restore the lost heat, energy and power. That is a perfect recipe for constipation.

Sweating is healthy but over-sweating is a catalyst to death because it leaves you dehydrated. It is worse for a fighter who knows absolute zilch about legal supplements.

Fight fans, who are not privy to information and processes leading to fights, see two fit fighters inside the ring, and expect fireworks.

One, two and three blows, the unfit boxer unfolds, gets taken to the hospital and big headlines follow: BOXER DEAD, ABOLISH THIS LEGAL BRUTALITY".

Fighters, just like you and me, have medical issues. It is crucial that they must inform commissions of their medical history.

I wonder if doctors ever watch a fighter's previous two or three fights before an upcoming bout to see if there has been a change in their ring behaviour.

Too many punches over the years and numerous knockouts can damage the brain's balance centres. Unlike many other sports, the ill-effects and dangers faced in boxing are rarely researched.

Commissions request yearly Hepatitis, HIV and neurological exams. They don't do the Magnetic Resonance Imaging which uses magnetic field and radio wave energy to see inside the brain. They also don't do the Magnetic Resonance Angiography which enables them to see where blood is flowing.

Meanwhile, Edward Mpofu and Eugene Khanyile stand accused of putting hardening staff in Mpofu's gloves in his lost fight against Thanduxolo Dyani last week.

They both face life bans if found guilty.

Remember, commissions are there to ensure that fights are safe and fair - but taking intelligent actions is a must.