Overall Risk of Injury in Amateur Boxing “Lower Than Football, Hockey, Wrestling and Soccer”

kids sparring photo

With findings that may catch many opponents of MMA and other striking sports off guard, the Canadian Paediatric Society recently published an article discussing injury risks of youth boxing participation.

The article’s final recommendation opposing boxing for youth is not surprising given the Canadian Medical Association’s view that “all boxing be banned in Canada“.  The Canadian Paediatric Society’s opposition appears more grounded in the fact that boxing  “encourages…direct blows to the head and face” than actual injury risk when compared to other sports.  What is more noteworthy than the report’s conclusions are various observations set out in the body of the report which include the following:

1. The overall risk of injury in amateur boxing seems to be lower than in some other collision sports such as football, ice hockey, wrestling and soccer

2.  The prevalence of injury from combat sports requiring admission to a hospital in Canada is not much higher for boxing (with a rate of 4.8%) as compared to 3.6% for Judo, 3.1% for Karate, and 2.9% for wrestling.

3.  The concussion rate for amateur boxing is also not far off the mark when compared to other “collision sports” with studies indicating rates as follows:

  • Amateur Boxing – 0.58 per 100 athlete exposures
  • Hockey 0.28 per – 100 athlete exposures
  • High School Rugby – 0.38 per 100 athlete exposures

Concussions and other injury risks are a reality of any contact sport and I don’t publish this data with a view of undermining these risks in anyway.  It is important, however, to have informed views when discussing the regulation of combat sports and to not assume that the risks to athletes are greater than they are.

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