Commonwealth Games: Blood flows in ‘scary’ boxing fights without headguards

The International Boxing Association has stopped the use of headguards in male bouts, citing medical experts who said it would help reduce concussions

It was the first bout of the boxing competition at the Commonwealth Games. Within minutes, Mathew Martin, of Nauru had a large lump on his head from a punch. Northern Ireland’s Michael Conlan, who won unanimously on points, had blood streaming down his face. That is what fighting without protective headguards can do.

In a decision last year, the International Boxing Association stopped the use of headguards in male bouts, citing medical experts who said it would help reduce concussions.

Benson Njangiru, of Kenya, who won his bantamweight fight today, said going into the ring for the first time without headguards was “scary.”

“You have to be more worried about cuts,” said Njangiru, who won a silver medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. “But the change affects both fighters the same way.” His coach, Albert Matito, added they had trained without headguards for about six weeks and it was “terrible at first, but now we are getting used to it”.

 

England’s boxing team leader, John Hallam, said he had heard nothing but positive comments about the move, and said the style of fighting in amateur bouts would change. “I think the boxers are now here to box, to keep their head out of the stance,” Hallam said. “We believe that with the headguards on, you tended to lean in, to take the punch. We all feel that won’t be a problem now.” And blood in the ring? “Unfortunately it happens, doesn’t it?” Hallam said.

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