Comparison of amateur boxing before and after the 2013 rules change and the impact on boxers’ safety

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Abstract

Objectives

The effect of the rules change in 2013 on amateur boxing strategy, technique and safety in comparison with pre-2013 is unknown.

Methods

Pre-2013 and post-2013 3×3 min elite level amateur boxing was compared from video footage of 29 Olympic (pre-2013) and 50 World Championship bouts (post-2013) totalling 99 male boxers (mean±SD) age: 24.3±3.2 years, height: 177.3±11.3 cm and body mass: 70.7±16.4 kg.

Result

Many techniques that were dominant pre-2013 were used less post-2013, including: total punches thrown, rear hand punches, hook rear hand, punches landed, uppercut punches, total punches to the body (all <0.05), while movement around the ring and defensive movements were higher post-2013 (both p<0.004). Post-2013 boxers have increased their foot movement by 20% to move in and then away from their opponent, combined with long-range punches and deliberate defensive movements. The percentage of rounds where standing counts were issued changed from 9% to 3% pre-2013 to post-2013. However, pre-2013, 1.7% of bouts did not last the full duration due to referee stoppage, while post-2013, this increased to 4.2% as a result of two knockouts and eight technical knockouts.

Discussion and conclusion

Boxers should be aware of the large changes in technical demands of boxing. An increased risk of concussive or traumatic brain injury post-2013 is equivocal. However, an increase in skin splits and technical knockouts is apparent. It is likely that boxers believe head guard removal has made them more prone to knockouts.

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