WBC's focus on safety

Click to follow

The World Council president, Jose Sulaiman, said yesterday that punches to the kidneys and back of the head should be punished as harshly as head-butts and punches below the belt.

Sulaiman, speaking at the WBC annual convention in Chiang Mai, Thailand, also recommended that audio-visual systems be installed to let doctors and officials stop a WBC fight if the boxer is hurt and the referee has missed it. Installation of such systems by the body's nine continental affiliates would be "a big step towards prevention of fatal and serious accidents," he said.

The convention, which ends today, has focused on safety and medical aspects and has adopted several measures aimed at preventing fatalities, including restrictions on weight loss.

"The WBC's medical investigation strongly suggests that extreme weight loss during training for a fight and the accompanying dehydration are prime factors in ring fatalities," said a statement.

"The WBC has decided that strict guidelines for limiting the amount of weight a fighter will be allowed to lose will be drawn and implemented," it said, adding that these would be monitored in all world, international and American title bouts.

The WBC said another factor in fatal accidents was the presence of a family member, particularly fathers, in a boxer's corner as "it appears that the emotional ties involved adversely affect their judgement as corner men".

The convention confirmed a 15-year ruling that bars immediate relatives from working in the corners. But it said they could take part from the floor as fourth corner men.

The council directors also decided on Thursday that the $100,000 (pounds 65,000) medical and life insurance policy provided for every boxer appearing on a WBC world title card would be increased to $200,000 with immediate effect.

The statement also said "a new and much more effective mouthpiece" had been under development for the past five years. Reports suggest the guard is made of a rubber material that offers increased protection and lasts one year - four times as long as others.

The WBC has also set up an ad hoc committee to look after the families of fighters who had died in the ring as well as former champions suffering financial difficulties, who need help with medical and other bills.