Concussions and Protecting Your Boxers

As much as we all love to “win” and prove we are the best at what we do, we must always remember that our boxers safety is paramount as well the safety of every person that steps into our gym, whether or not they are “our” boxers.  Nothing screams “rookie” more than only looking out for your “star” boxers, or the boxers you think can win boxing matches. Remember in life just as in any type of battle, we are only as strong as our weakest link.

With that being said, first of all we must give our boxers the tools they need to be able to protect themselves in the ring, as well as be successful. Notice I said protect themselves in the ring before I said being successful? That means your boxers should exhibit in training and practice sparring that they are able to effectively move around the ring in every direction, as well as defend the punches that will be coming their way, while having more than “shelling up” as a means of defense when things get hectic in the ring. This is primary with throwing punches being secondary, not the other way around.

I don’t pretend to be the inventor of these ideas there are many great coaches that I’ve learned from throughout the years and those coaches in turn learned from established coaches that came before them. The lineage goes as far back as the late 1800’s and early 1900’s from places such as Houston, Galveston, New York, New Orleans, Los Angeles, etc.  Having winning boxers is fun but having the integrity to make sure you are continuously learning and giving your fighters every chance possible to stay safe and healthy, is number one.

One of the most common injuries “seen'” but not always acknowledged is a concussion.

A concussion is generally defined as “a brain injury caused by a blow to the head or a violent shaking of the head and body”. It basically means your brain gets shook inside your skull and bounces of your skull, causing an injury. A person does not have to get hit to the head to get a concussion nor do they have to lose consciousness.

Signs and symptoms of a concussion include:

Dizziness                                                   Seizure
Drowsiness                                              Confusion
Headache                                                  Blurred vision
Loss of Consciousness                      Sadness
Nausea or vomiting                             Difficulty concentrating
Irritability                                                  Just “not feeling right”
Amnesia                                                    Feeling as if “in a fog”
Sensitivity to noise
Balance problems
Feeling slowed down
Being more emotional than usual
Sensitivity to light
Fatigue or low energy
Neck pain
Difficulty remembering

This isn’t an all encompassing list of symptoms and signs, it’s just a general guideline, if you feel you or someone you know may have gotten a concussion don’t hesitate to see a doctor. There are short term and long term effects of concussions and every concussion leaves permanent damage to your brain. Also you become more and more susceptible to concussions after every concussion you suffer, and your likely-hood of suffering long term effects increases with every concussion.

Long-term effects include:

Memory loss
Cognitive disorders(problems thinking through things)
PTSD - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Substance Abuse
Poor physical performance
Lack of energy or enthusiasm

USA Boxing has guidelines for boxers that get stopped by knockout or technical knockout in competition, and in my opinion the same guidelines should be followed in the gym when guys get hurt sparring. Their guidelines are as follows:

First time, the boxer should not box or spar for 30 days.
Second time, the boxer should not box or spar for 90 days.
Third time, the boxer should not box or spar for one year.

In my opinion this is why we should take the time to teach the art of hitting while not getting hit as best we can before we send these kids into the ring, and also we should all have a set of guidelines the kids must meet before we let them spar, and again before they compete. This isn’t something I came up with, this is something I’ve seen practiced in the most successful gyms by the most successful coaches out there,in my times in the sport. Boxing, as well as all martial arts can benefit our lives as well as the lives of our students in many ways other than competition and accolades, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Love and respect to one and all.

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