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Medical Amateur boxing and brain damage

  1. Nov 2, 2008 #1
    I use to box in the amateurs (my last fight was April 5th). I stopped boxing due to losing motivation, getting bored, etc, but I've missed it a lot over the past few months and am thinking of getting back into it. I don't plan to go pro or anything. Also, I will be starting university for math in September 2009. I plan on going to graduate school, getting a PHD, doing research etc. I really want to do top level research and be the best mathematician I could be, so naturally the brain damage aspect of boxing has been bothering me. I looked up some articles on google and found some articles saying there is a chance of brain damage and others saying that there is no strong evidence that there is any link between amateur boxing and brain damage.

    In the amateurs we spar with headgear on and 16 oz gloves, and we fight with headgear with 10 oz gloves. Do you think I have anything to be worried about in regards to brain damage and it potentially affecting my mathematical abilities?

    All help and advice would be appreciated!
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 2, 2008 #2
    If you are going for TKO or KO, then yes, you should be concerned about it. If you want to continue martial arts, I would recommend either a grappling art (judo, jiu jitsu, etc.) or one of the striking arts, but in a league in which the sparring is for points, rather than KO (some styles of karate, tae kwon do, probably others). Whenever you are fighting to KO, there is a risk. The more frequently you are KOed, the more likely damage is to accumulate and affect the rest of your life.
  4. Nov 2, 2008 #3
    does that research say anything about damage versus weight class? seems like with some of the little guys, it just turns into an endurance test.
  5. Nov 2, 2008 #4
    That was not researched, it was off the top of my head. Upon further research, it appears that amateur boxing is point based, rather than KO. This means that the risk of chronic brain damage will be much less than with pro boxing. I would imagine it still varies depending who you're competing with on a regular basis (some gyms tend to go a lot harder than others, even within the same martial art or style).

    If you find you get hit hard in the head with any great frequency (light hits don't generally cause any damage), and/or you feel dizzy (more so than just from being out of breath) after matches or hits, chronic brain damage is a potential concern (though still much less than if you're suffering regular KOs). The safest bet (as far as the potential for brain damage at least, not necessarily safest in general) is to choose an art where the strikes are not focused on the head, or a grappling art.

    Edit: I couldn't find any statistics specifically for chronic brain damage in amateur boxing, and all the ones for pro boxing only consider brain damage with obvious effects (dementia, memory loss, slurred speech, tremors and abnormal gait), and don't take into account any lesser damages, which may not manifest itself in any obvious way, but which could be a detriment to a career requiring mental acuity. Basically this whole post amounts to "I don't know" in response to the original question, but hopefully the information I've provided has helped a little.
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2008
  6. Nov 2, 2008 #5
    The problem in the lighter weight classes is the cutting and dehydration that goes on before competitions to make the class. This leaves the fighter more susceptible to brain damage. So even though they are receiving lighter blows, they are doing more damage. I have never seen any statistics which suggest a significant difference in brain damage rates for different weight classes, this leads me to think that the risks are pretty similar across all classes (though I could be wrong, if anyone has seen a study on this, let me know, I'd like to read it).
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