Seconds Out - Round Two - the view of
Olivet College coach and expert Dr. Loren Partlo
by Michael O'Neill
October 14, 2015
(OCT 14) Well that’s the
AIBA’s take so how do others react especially the many who
oppose the AIBA. We sought out the views of a leading American
One such is respected Olivet College coach Dr. Loren Partlo, an
expert also on concussions in boxing, headgear and
professionally published research in these areas.
Partlo has appeared in many
medical journals at home in the United States and indeed
throughout the world and regularly appears on TV, Radio and in
Q: Why do you disagree so vehemently with the AIBA? Your own
A: Frankly, I'm shocked that people are not all over this "No
headguard" push. I think the majority of coaches thought it was
so ridiculous that they didn't think it would get any traction.
Then it was just for the Olympics and the Elite category and no
one dreamed it would ever go past that. Now it's a requirement
for the International Club Exchanges and people are realizing
Dr. Wu didn't have permission to remove headguards he just did
Q: And now?
A :Now the question is will he get away with it somehow? They
never suspected that this bad idea could get mandated without
challenge or at the least some type of review process and I'm
happy that the Olympic Medical Commission will be there (in
Doha). This summer in Rio when AIBA thought they were going to
get the "OK" to remove headguards from the Olympic Medical
Commission they didn't! AIBA lost the fight then and they will
continue to do so. It is not a case of me or a small group
standing up to the giant AIBA. It is a simple case of people
making a bad decision to remove safety equipment out of
ignorance. Their poor judgement will not withstand scrutiny. The
crime is the amount of emergency room visits, unreported
concussions, etc. that are happening until they get told "NO".
Q: What happened in Philadelphia then in pre-Olympic trials?
A: There were 22 confirmed emergency room visits for cuts with
the Philadelphia event. Who knows how many more should have went
but didn't or couldn't afford it? NO wasn't good enough the
first time for AIBA obviously, so they seem to think they can
keep coming back until they get the answer they want but the OMC
won't do it because it leaves them in an undefended position.
The IOC paid for professional research "Boxing Headguard
performance in punch machine tests" which was out in July. That
was either driven by AIBA or by the OMC it was after RIO. Either
way it was the chance for AIBA and it is gone.
Q: So you do not believe that the IOC will agree to headguards
removal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio?
A: The IOC in good confidence CAN NOT recommend to the Medical
Commission based on their findings which is the research study
in July and the others before them, that headguards be removed.
If AIBA drove the test it blew up in their face, which I
suspect. I suspect it because in order to get the OMC to change
a three decade past president and several professional research
papers they would need a new professional study that was
unbiased; and it was, and it was the kiss of death for the
entire headguards issue. IF the OMC ordered it then it was proof
to not change a thing. People seem to forget that the Olympics
rules have not changed. Currently, head-guards are and have been
required for over three decades for good reason.
Q: What about the boxers and their coaches?
A: I'm perplexed why coaches allow their boxers to be exploited
and exposed to unnecessary disfigurement, brain damage, etc.
when the rules for the Olympics require Headguards. If that is a
requirement by the rules then we should be sticking to them
until they are officially changed (by the IOC)!
Q:Tell us more re those trials in Philadelphia and your reaction
A: As I said earlier, there were 22 confirmed cases of boxers
going to the Emergency room for head trauma - specifically cuts.
There were actually 26 cuts and one broken nose, as counted by
medical personnel at the tournament. In Baku, there were at
least 23 cuts! Cuts are a tell-tale sign of head trauma. With
cuts you need to start taking precautions regarding AIDS and
hepatitis! Headguards are proven to eliminate over 90% of all
cuts as shown by the 59 year study.
Q: So like many others you believe that the AIBA is out to
become the leading Pro body? And where does that leave the
A: IF the Olympics wants to BECOME A PROFESSIONAL BOXING FORMAT,
THEN DO IT! Professionals box without headguards and “I DON’T
CARE.” Amateur boxers don’t care, boxing coaches don’t care.
Boxers in the Olympics are less than one percent of all amateur
boxers. Just make the Olympics a professional endeavour and have
professional Olympic try-outs. Make sure you do this with the
appropriate Olympic approval before you make the decision to
take headguards off and make it a pro-sport! The Olympic Medical
Commission and Olympic Executive Committee do have a say in
Olympic safety, changes and what happens in a sport.
Q: Do you believe the AIBA will persist in their campaign to
remove headguards? You read what they said at the 2015
Championships in Doha this week.
A When AIBA says they are taking headguards off amateurs, they
are crossing a well-defined line. It is counter to the safety
culture that has been established over the last 30 years in
every country that has amateur boxing. By removing headguards in
amateur boxing, a large step backwards is being taken. If AIBA
decides they want to try to take the headguards off of local
shows, then AIBA is going to create more independent amateur
boxing associations like the Ontario Boxing Association.
Q: How does the Ontario Boxing Association differ from others in
A : The new Canadian Ontario Boxing Association offers a 5
million dollar insurance coverage to its members, and you get to
keep your headguards. The writing is on the wall for AIBA and at
every turn, they get told to keep the headguards in amateur
boxing and keep amateur boxers safe, yet, they refuse. If AIBA
continues their campaign to remove headguards, many countries
will break away from AIBA and create their own, better, and
safer amateur boxing programs. These independent self-governing
programs will not have to answer to an international governing
body that does not appear to care for the safety of their
Q: Why do you think the AIBA is pursuing the course they are?
A: I DO NOT see the logic in taking necessary safety equipment
away from 99% of the amateur population so AIBA can get less
than 1% to go professional. Does AIBA realize that if they
remove headguards in amateur boxing that amateur boxing will
cease to exist? Do you think facilities are going to allow shows
to take place on their property so they can be named in the
lawsuit when concussions and death occur because headguards were
removed? AIBA is in for a big surprise if they think they can
rule via intimidation and mandate a professional mind-set on an
already established amateur culture. The 1% of boxers that go to
the Olympics should not drive the remaining 99% of the amateur
Q: Can you explain?
A: Here is what I am talking about. Concussions at the Olympic
trials are occurring. However, AIBA leadership, do not realize
that when they tell the public there were “no concussions” it
appears they are intentionally lying and attempting to sweep the
injuries under the rug. Their actions appear very disingenuous.
Amateur coaches don’t like being lied to because the integrity
of AIBA then comes into question. We start to question the
organization we want to support. The Ontario Boxing Association
is looking better and better when our parent organization is
lying to us, intentionally or not. AIBA leadership has a
fiduciary responsibility to make accurate statements.
Q: Have there been injuries before in Olympic trials?
A: Dr. Wu says there were no concussions in the past Olympic
trials and then tries to leverage this as grounds to remove
safety headguards. When did the absence of an injury become a
reason to eliminate safety equipment? By the way his statements
are totally false and reflect badly on AIBA; where is the proof?
On Thursday, 10 September 2015, respected journalist David Owen
states, “…AIBA President disclosed that instances of concussion
in boxing competitions had been “zero” at both the recent
European Games in Baku and the Pan American Games in Toronto.” (
THIS IS NOT TRUE there was at least one concussion! How do we
know this? Because on July 23, 2015, during the Pan American
games, Samir El-Mais, after his initial win, forfeited his next
bout due to a concussion he received while competing, it is
posted on line! (Link)
Q: Anything else of concern to you?
A: Can we trust what AIBA is saying? I see AIBA leadership
making statements on concussions that clearly serves their
agenda and are clearly false. Here is an entire article that
highlights the idea that amateur boxing should scrap headguards
in the future based on the premise that no concussions happened
at the Asian games. (http://www.insidethegames.biz/articles/1023231/no-concussions-at-asian-games-vindicates-scrapping-of-headguards-claims-aiba)
If we apply that same logic to driving an automobile, then we
shouldn’t wear seatbelts anymore because we made it down the
road once without an accident. This is an example of the
mind-set of the leadership of AIBA. At first I thought the
removal of headguards was a joke. Initially I thought it was a
stupid comment accidently sensationalized by some journalist,
but it is not – AIBA seriously wants to remove headguards from
all of amateur boxing. First, it was just the men, now are also
included women and children are next.
Q: A conflict of interests then?
A: So, we have an amateur organization that is also a
professional organization. Rather than try to change amateur
boxing with under informed statements, AIBA needs to understand
the culture of safety found in amateur boxing and support it.
Instead, AIBA appears to ignore safety issues and recent
research as an alternative to instituting new safety protocol
and interventions. AIBA should be leading the way in safer
equipment and safer procedures like the leaders of AIBA before
them. Regarding the Heads-Up Campaign; yes, they are coming out
with a new referee/coaching intervention. In the past the
headguard was the active intervention that was put in place
because this intervention is scientifically quantifiable and has
already been proven to reduce over concussions significantly and
90% of cuts. Then there are passive interventions that don’t
work well, like trying to teach a referee to intervene before an
injury happens. Again, when you’re dealing with an amateur
culture focused on safety don’t ignore, cover-up, misrepresent,
or otherwise try to deceive people. We know what works, and we
know what doesn’t. We know what real safety interventions look
like, and we know what passive interventions look like.
Repetitive head trauma can cause a person to be permanently
injured - you have probably heard the term “punch drunk.” AIBA
is opening the box of trouble that amateur boxing closed over
three decades ago when it required mandatory safety headguards
for all amateur boxing - worldwide.
Unfortunately, AIBA is currently speaking to the world as if
research on head trauma and concussions are non-existent. This
only makes them appear less informed, self-serving, and
Q: There have been previous Olympic Games studies on subject
have they not?
A: A study on Olympic competition has already been done to see
if boxing with and without headguards made a difference? In
1984, the Olympic rules were changed to incorporate headguards
to see if it would make boxing safer. Then a study covering a 59
year period was published, this article presented statistics on
injuries sustained during Olympic competitions. The findings
were used to evaluate the addition of headguards to see if they
actually improved athlete safety, and they did.
The study titled Amateur boxing in the last 59 years. Impact of
rules changes on the type of verdicts recorded and implications
on boxers’ health was published in the British Journal of Sports
Medicine. Here is a direct quote from the 59 year study where
the researchers were comparing the safety of boxing with and
“Only after the introduction of the mandatory head guard in the
1984 Olympics, did the RSCI [Referee Stopped Contest Injury]
reduce, it was clear that the introduction of the head guard
reduced facial cuts by up to 90%. The mean rate of RSCI
decisions showed a 3.3-fold reduction after the adoption of
mandatory head guard and KO rate also significantly decreased…”
Here in print is the answer to how cuts were virtually
eliminated and head trauma significantly reduced over the past
three decades of Olympic and amateur boxing.
Q: What happened when the AIBA last asked the IOC to ok removal
A: For the past few years AIBA asked the Olympic Medical
Commission (OMC) to take headgear off – the result - it DID NOT
HAPPEN! The last request occurred this summer in Rio. After this
rejection (when does NO mean NO?) spokespeople for AIBA (Charles
Butler, Dr. Wu, Ho Kim) started making wild claims, such as it
is safer to box without headgear. They started looking for data
to support their accusations and found they didn’t have any
professionally published research for support. So, the
International Olympic Committee (IOC) paid for professional
research ‘Boxing Headguard Performance in Punch Machine Tests’
study which was conducted in Australia. The research was
published on July 14th 2015 in the British Journal of Sports
Medicine. The scientific facts once again speak for themselves
as the findings show that “…head accelerations were
substantially reduced by headguards (HG) compared to bare head
form condition; often at least halved.”(Injury risk reduction,
p.3) In laymen terms, that means you are twice as likely to get
a concussion without a headguard. This research was the Kiss of
Death for the idea that boxing without headguards in the 2016
Rio Olympics is safer. This study also reassured the OMC that
headguards in Amateur boxing make boxing safer.
Q: So you don’t think that the IOC can now recommend removal of
headgear for Rio 2016?
A: How in good confidence can the IOC recommend to the Olympic
Medical Commission (OMC) that headguards should be removed when
they just funded a study that decisively proved otherwise? IF
the IOC recommends that headguards are removed, then they give
the appearance of being bought out by AIBA because the facts
don’t support removing headguards to promote safety.
On the other hand, the Olympic Medical Commission (OMC), who
makes the decision to remove headguards in the Olympics is
requiring scientific proof because they are in the business of
safeguarding athletes! Remember, the Olympics is currently an
amateur venue. Yet AIBA continues to hold Olympic trials without
headguards as if it were a professional venue.
Q: Your conclusion then?
A: I’m thinking the leadership at AIBA doesn’t understand what
“NO” means because they are still trying to push their agenda.
AIBA is in a no-win situation because any data AIBA researchers
collect would be self-supporting and suspect. If AIBA would have
put the headguards back on in July for the remaining Olympic
trials, the last time they were told “NO” by the OMC then there
would have been fewer injuries that involved bleeding,
disfigurement, concussions and emergency room visits.
What do they think will happen next? When a boxer is in the
ring, multiple days, back-to-back, without a headguard, severe
injury and even death may result. It is simply just a matter of
time when you don’t take concussion intervention seriously! It
is for this reason that professional boxing is a one night event
followed by months of inactivity before the next fight. I
applaud Samir El-Mais, and his coach from Canada, who made the
safe decision and did not continue with a concussion in the
Toronto PanAm Games.
Q: You have other concerns too about the AIBA, right?
A: I have some concerns that keep coming up regarding AIBA and
the direction the current leadership is taking amateur boxing.
Amateur boxing has worked hard worldwide to make one path and
one sanctioning body for amateur boxing, this is AIBA. The main
event for these amateur boxers has been the Olympics. Headguards
are, and always will be, the biggest difference between
professional and amateur boxing.
Just because the leadership at AIBA sees a path to create
another professional organization, it doesn’t mean we want to
lose our amateur organization in the process. The headguard
issue is this important! Why, because the headguard is the
single most important piece of safety equipment in amateur
I personally don’t think that professionals in the Olympics will
be a winner in the long run, it was not for basketball. Seasoned
professionals in any sport will easily dominate tenuously
experienced amateurs. Really, if I want to watch professional
boxing I already can.
Q: So what do YOU propose? What should the AIBA be doing?
A: Here is a list of points I would like to see AIBA address
because I would like to keep AIBA as the main amateur
international governing body. To do that, I believe they need to
respect the safety processes of amateur boxing and that means
they need to realize that Amateur boxing will not give up
1. Why are the leaders of AIBA working hard on creating a new
professional organization at the expense of the amateur
organization? They are supposed to be managing and improving
amateur boxing internationally not professional boxing.
2. If the current Olympic rules require headguards (which they
do) why are the trials being conducted without headguards?
3. Why isn’t AIBA being forthright in their presentation of what
is happening regarding safety and concussions?
4. How is AIBA safeguarding its athletes by taking away proven
5. Why doesn’t AIBA use professional published research to
promote safe amateur boxing practices?
6. Why is the leadership that is put into place to promote
amateur boxing removing headguards across the board eventually :
men, women and children? – Is this an attempt to end amateur
Interesting that the organization that is supposed to be growing
amateur boxing is responsible for the creation of the new
amateur Ontario Boxing Association.