Sports officials hold aces

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editorial-dinkus04AMONG strict safeguards in boxing are rules allowing one of four ‘officials’ to stop a contest from continuing: the corner second, the referee, the ring doctor, and the designated member of the local police force.

At the outset let us say that this is not an indictment on those involved in deaths at boxing matches with Filipino contestants in Australia recently.

But it has to be said that boxing officials, from corner seconds and referees to ring doctors and designated members of the police force at ringside, must equally take responsibility for the conduct and safety of boxers at official contests under the Marquis of Queensberry Rules of boxing.

That applies to both amateur and professional boxing.

We know from experience as an amateur boxing referee and judge, and as a news reporter on amateur and professional boxing, that a boxing official can effectively influence a match result or become an accessory to breeches of safety standards in the ring.

For example, a corner second or the boxer’s trainer/coach who is closest to the boxer and would have the trained eye to know that his fighter is deemed either “outclassed’ or in trouble and “unfit to fight”, allows his charge to continue.

A referee has several ways of distracting one boxer to give the opponent an advantage: breaking a clinch too early to stop a good ‘inside fighter’ from scoring, harassing a boxer for what may look like minor infringements so the boxer loses concentration, or merely demonstrating disdain towards one boxer.

A ring doctor can allow a contestant, whom he may deem to become medically unfit at a stage in a bout, to continue the contest.

A designated police officer can look the other way when at some stage in the contest one boxer becomes “unfit to fight”.

It is no secret among those in boxing that a boxer would consider it unthinkable to quit in mid-fight, no matter how strongly he felt that he should. No matter how badly wounded he was. That’s why he’s a fighter. It’s a man-thing. Only those around him responsible for his health and safety need to do it for him.

Further to that, “politics in the game” often comes into play within the rest of boxing officialdom, resulting in mismatches or unfit boxers being allowed to pass or skip tests before matches.

This misconduct happens in professional as it does in amateur boxing. Insiders have been privy to that, unfortunately.

Boxing is a very risky sport. But it is still a sport, with strict rules and safeguards.

Banning boxing, as in the Marquis of Queensbury Rules, may not be the answer to avoiding permanent damage or death in the ring. If banned, the game may only go underground and become even more dangerous to society.

We say: Look to the way boxing bouts ~ or “fights” as we refer to it in the pros ~ are officiated and organised.

Turn your eyes to boxing officialdom.


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