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Part One: AIBA to proceed with removal of headguards despite strong opposition from leading experts
by Michael O'Neill
October 14, 2015

(OCT 14) It always was a contentious decision to remove headguards but the AIBA are in no doubt and fully intend to carry out their previous decision irrespective of the many comments and expert views that beg to differ. That is clear from a decision confirmed in Doha this week at the 2015 AIBA Elite World Championships.

In a second part to this article we will be hearing the views of an expert in boxing injuries, concussions and the law but first this is what the AIBA have decided.

“The International Boxing Association has finalised a new initiative designed to nurture boxing careers. Based upon the four core pillars of sport, health, education and sustainability, the HeadsUp! charter is formally unveiled at the AIBA 2015 World Boxing Championships in Doha.

“It is essential that AIBA fulfils its duty to provide a strong, secure framework within which boxers can develop and excel from grassroots to pro competition,” said AIBA President Dr Ching-Kuo Wu.“HeadsUp! will now be adopted by the world’s boxing federations to help all of our athletes enjoy stable futures in their sport.”

With health as its primary focus, AIBA Medical Commission has worked behind the scenes at the principal boxing competitions in 2015, concluding in Doha with HeadsUp! workshops conducted with referees and training sessions with coaches to better educate their boxers in the prevention of cuts and concussions.

The removal of headguards in men’s competitions came in the light of the commission’s study of 11,000 AIBA bouts around the world. The Almaty 2013 World Championships, the first without headguards for 30 years, showed a decrease in the number of concussions compared to the Baku competition in 2011.

To maintain the improvements, bringing a change in training methods to literally keep boxers’ heads raised during bouts was imperative. “Since being introduced in 1984, headguards have brought a psychological as well as physical cushion that has led to a passive style of boxing,” says Dr Khadri of the AIBA Medical Commission. “We need to teach the correct way to box with a better stance – heads up – and that requires ongoing education of boxers and referees.”

President of the Asian Boxing Confederation, Mr. Serik Konakbayev, became the first to sign the charter during his visit to the Doha World Championships. “As President of the ASBC I am very proud that we are the first AIBA confederation to sign this important charter, and I would like to congratulate the President of the Qatar Boxing Federation, Mr Yousef Ali Al Kazim, on being the first Asian federation to sign its support of this important initiative for the future of boxing and the health of boxers,” said Mr Konakbayev.

Today AIBA formally released its HeadsUp! charter to the international boxing federations during the competition in Doha, when it will be shared with all 196 national federations around the globe.

So there you have it – the AIBA intends to proceed as planned BUT will the International Olympic Committee authorise them to proceed without headgear in the 2016 Rio Olympics? In part two we give you Pros and Cons but the IOC will most assuredly have the final decision on Rio though not on other International Boxing tournaments.

Women may well follow suite as early as 2016 but more likely in 2017 though again one wonders if it is safe NOW for men why NOT for women?

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