The Australian National Boxing Championships commence in Perth today and run until Saturday where in the finals the senior boxers will be vying for places on the Commonwealth Games team.
Across most Commonwealth countries trials are being carried o decide who will head to Glasgow later in the year, and the fact that this year will be the first that the men will fight without head guards has come with a fair amount of controversy. The women boxers will still wear them.
The International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) made the decision to ban the head guards which were first introduced into competition for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.
While a number of sports are taking concussion in their young participants very seriously and looking at ways to reduce this, AIBA claims that its removal of the head guards is based on medical evidence and that it will actually reduce the number of concussions in their sport.
One of Britain’s top professional boxers George Groves who served his apprenticeship in the amateur game has spoken out on the eve of their trials for the Commonwealth Games saying, “I get paid to get hit in the head. These kids don’t. They need the protection headguards at this stage of their careers, just as I did when I boxed as an amateur. I never had a cut or a serious head injury. Removing them is highly dangerous. Especially at a time when several sports, not only boxing, are increasingly concerned about brain damage. It is too great a risk.”
So why has AIBA made such a decision? Many believe it was to make their World Championship of Boxing more appealing to a television audience. However as Groves states there is a reason the head guards were worn, and that was because these boxers were still learning their trade, it seems foolhardy to have removed them.
The National Championships in Australia are being held from 08-12 April at the Esplanade Hotel in Fremantle.