AIBA: No headgear in 2016 Olympic boxing
The move to professionalize Olympic boxing and make it more fan-friendly is underway. For the first time in over 30 years, boxers will compete without protective headgear at the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, a decision sure to increase interest in amateur boxing, even if the push to make the move is viewed by amateur officials as safety-related to reduce concussions.
The shift follows an effort to allow professional fighters to compete in Olympic boxing following the lead of basketball and other sports.
“Professional boxers will be at Rio: I don’t know how many but they will be,” International Olympic Boxing Association (AIBA) President Wu Ching-kuo told Reuters on Tuesday of an idea that will be put to a vote in May at a meeting of the federation.
AIBA approved the move to remove headgear three years ago for the 2013 World Championships. After “exhaustive medical research” into head injuries, the rule was officially agreed upon on Tuesday by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) executive board for the Olympic Games, according to a post on AIBA’s website.
“We are profoundly pleased that there will be no headguard for male boxers in Rio,” said Dr. Wu. “It is something that has been expected by our boxers and by the boxing fans the world over. Since our very first conversations with athletes and medical staff on the issue, we have been investigating the possibility of removing headguards and both our statistical research, and the feedback from boxers and coaches, shows us that this is the best outcome for our sport.”
According to a press release, AIBA conducted research into the safety benefits of eliminating headgear. The Association’s Medical Commission studied more than 11,000 amateur boxing competitions and found a 43% reduction in reported concussions from 2013 to 2015, the release said.
Oddly enough, female fighters will continue to wear headgear in 2016, a curious move considering all the safety benefits AIBA is touting in removing headgear for men.
Boxers have worn headgear since the 1984 Los Angeles Games.