The American Academy of Pediatrics opposes boxing in any sports program for children and young adults. Amateur boxing is potentially dangerous and yet youngsters are involved in boxing at ages 3 to 4 years. Approximately 15,000 boxers between ages 10 and 15 years are registered with the National Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Junior Olympics boxing program.1 There may be an even larger number of young boxers in community organizations. Impoverished youths view boxing as a means of financial gain with the potential of providing a new life. Unfortunately, for many, it is a means of improving their physical condition at the risk of slow progressive brain injury, with occasional or no financial rewards. Other sports offer the same conditioning opportunity with minimal or no risk of brain injury.
In contrast to professional boxing, amateur boxing is apparently for prestige, recognition, and the enjoyment of winning. Proponents of boxing suggest that it teaches self-defense and discipline, that it builds character and confidence, and that it is relatively safe. Opponents of boxing stress that the principal goal is to render the opponent senseless.
Ironically, protective headgear may actually increase brain injuries.2 The degree of physical injury in boxing correlates with the physical strength and activity of the participants; the greatest risks exist when participants are obviously mismatched. The fatality rate in boxing is reported to be low.3 However, the frequency of chronic brain damage is an increasing concern in the medical community.1,4-8
Recent studies4-6 using computed tomography (CT) scanning have revealed brain injury in young boxers.
- Copyright © 1984 by the American Academy of Pediatrics