The American Public Health Association,
Noting that boxing has been shown by a considerable body of early research1 to have a high risk of injury and death, both as recreational (amateur) and occupational (professional) activity; and
Recognizing that new research2-8 has documented an alarming prevalence of brain damage in fighters; and
Understanding that no reliable test exists to screen boxers for high risk of sudden death or brain injury;1 and
Observing that the public is not aware of the consequences of repeated blows to the head;9 and
Believing that boxing, as an activity, is based on the intent to harm; and
Realizing that adequate alternatives, such as wrestling, exist for the achievement of the socially useful objectives of competitive individual body-contact sports based on strength, skill, and courage; and
Acknowledging that medical care reforms, such as improved emergency medical services for fights and improved prospective (pre-fight), concurrent and retrospective (post-fight) medical supervision of boxers, can reduce some but not all injuries and deaths; and
Acknowledging that environmental alterations, such as better padding on cornerposts, thumbless gloves, and helmets, have potential to reduce but not eliminate injuries; and
Believing that educational interventions aimed at fight promoters and other ring personnel have little potential for injury reduction; and
Believing that regulatory reform and economic incentives can have only limited effectiveness; and
Understanding that it is within the authority of individual governments to outlaw boxing within their borders;10 and
Joining with other professional organizations, such as the American Medical Association,11 Canadian Medical Association, Canadian Psychiatric Association, and World Medical Association,12 who have publicly advocated elimination of boxing; and
Recognizing the role of APHA in injury control efforts,13 concludes that: 1) the risks of injury and death from boxing are unacceptable; 2) reform of boxing is not adequate to redress the fundamental problems; and 3) on public health grounds, boxing should be banned as an occupational and recreational activity; therefore
- Calls upon the legislative and executive branches of governments at the national, state, and local levels to act to ban boxing in their jurisdictions;
- Urges federal, state, and local health officials to use their powers to eliminate boxing;
- Encourages other professional organizations, including APHA affiliates, to work with the APHA to accomplish a ban on boxing;
- Plans to assist these agencies and organizations in initiating legislative efforts and legal action to effectively ban boxing; and
- Recommends that public health education efforts be directed toward informing the American public, especially children and young adults, about the dangerous effects of boxing on the health of participants.
- American Medical Association, Council on Scientific Affairs: Brain Injury in boxing. JAMA 1983;249:254-257.
- Thomassen A, Juul-Jensen P, Olivarius B, et al: Neurological electroencephalographic and neuropsychological examination of 53 former amateur boxers. Acta Neurol Scend 1979;60:352-362.
- Kaste M, Vilkki J, Saino K, et al: Is chronic brain damage in boxing a hazard of the past? Lancet 1982;2:1186-1188.
- Ross RJ, Cole M, Thompson JS, et al: Boxers - computed tomography, EEG, and neurologic evaluation. JAMA 1983;249:211-213.
- Sironi VA, Ravagnati L: Brain damage in boxers. Lancet 1983;1:244.
- Preston-Martin SY, Henderson BE, Roberts C: Risk factors for meningiomas in men in Los Angeles County. JNCI 1983;70:863-866.
- Oelman BF, Rose CM, Arlow KJ: Boxing injuries in the Army. J R Army Med Corps 1983;129:32-37.
- Casson IR, Siegel O, Sham R, et al: Brain damage in modern boxers. JAMA 1984;251:2663-2667.
- VanAllen MW: The deadly degrading sport. JAMA 1983;249:251.
- Annas GJ: Boxing: Atavistic spectacle or artistic sport? Am J Public Health 1983;73:811-812.
- Boxing ban endorsed by AMA delegates. Am Med News December 14, 1984;1,28.
- Lundberg GD: Boxing should be banned in civilized countries - Round 2. JAMA 1984;251:2696-2698.
- American Public Health Association: Position Paper 7321(PP): Injury Control and Emergency Health Services. APHA Public Policy Statements 1948-present, cumulative. Washington, DC: APHA, current volume.
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