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21 NOVEMBER 2018

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Boxing squares up to its critics

Boxing has come out fighting of late. The tragic death of Michael Norgrove, following his
recent bout in London, has drawn considerable criticism and placed the sport under increased scrutiny.


But boxing has laced up its gloves and replied with real force. Like a heavyweight brawler, the British Boxing Board of Control have stepped into the spotlight and thrown a punch of intent at the sport’s detractors. Robert Smith, General Secretary of the governing body, has vehemently defended boxing’s stringent safety procedures and denied that the sport is to blame.

"We are one of the strictest authorities in the world," he said. "Michael had his medicals done, his brain scans done. There was nothing there of any concern whatsoever, or else he wouldn’t have been in the ring. He was a fit young man but we can’t guarantee an acute injury can’t happen."

The vigour of his furious response emphasises just how much Smith cares about the issue. Norgrove was the first boxer to die as a result of a professional fight in the UK since 1995, so this is a serious blow for the BBBofC. They take immense pride in their record but the critics’ response to this tragedy is threatening to undermine all of their hard work.


One such critic is Peter McCabe of the brain charity Headway. The wily counter-puncher in this match-up, McCabe responded to Smith’s comments with a swift, succinct condemnation of the sport. 


"Every time a boxer gets into the ring, there is a significant risk that they may lose their life or sustain a devastating, life-changing brain injury," he said. "Until this sport is banned, more young lives will be tragically lost." 

McCabe also replied directly to Smith and asked, "If a governing body is admitting that the medical provisions it puts in place are not effective, why is the sport allowed to continue?" 


This is a pretty damning argument, but is it justified? The answer would certainly appear to be no. For a start, the last boxing fatality in Britain was over seventeen years ago, a period that included the death of over fifty active professional footballers. Considering the nature of the sport, this indicates the extremely high level of protection boxing affords.


To find out more about this debate, please read this law blog about Michael Norgrove

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