Boxing Should Be Banned

  • Date: Jan 01 1985
  • Policy Number: 8520

Key Words: Injury Prevention Control, Violence

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

  1. Calls upon the legislative and executive branches of governments at the national, state, and local levels to act to ban boxing in their jurisdictions;
  2. Urges federal, state, and local health officials to use their powers to eliminate boxing;
  3. Encourages other professional organizations, including APHA affiliates, to work with the APHA to accomplish a ban on boxing;
  4. Plans to assist these agencies and organizations in initiating legislative efforts and legal action to effectively ban boxing; and
  5. 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.


  1. American Medical Association, Council on Scientific Affairs: Brain Injury in boxing. JAMA 1983;249:254-257.
  2. 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.
  3. Kaste M, Vilkki J, Saino K, et al: Is chronic brain damage in boxing a hazard of the past? Lancet 1982;2:1186-1188.
  4. Ross RJ, Cole M, Thompson JS, et al: Boxers - computed tomography, EEG, and neurologic evaluation. JAMA 1983;249:211-213.
  5. Sironi VA, Ravagnati L: Brain damage in boxers. Lancet 1983;1:244.
  6. Preston-Martin SY, Henderson BE, Roberts C: Risk factors for meningiomas in men in Los Angeles County. JNCI 1983;70:863-866.
  7. Oelman BF, Rose CM, Arlow KJ: Boxing injuries in the Army. J R Army Med Corps 1983;129:32-37.
  8. Casson IR, Siegel O, Sham R, et al: Brain damage in modern boxers. JAMA 1984;251:2663-2667.
  9. VanAllen MW: The deadly degrading sport. JAMA 1983;249:251.
  10. Annas GJ: Boxing: Atavistic spectacle or artistic sport? Am J Public Health 1983;73:811-812.
  11. Boxing ban endorsed by AMA delegates. Am Med News December 14, 1984;1,28.
  12. Lundberg GD: Boxing should be banned in civilized countries - Round 2. JAMA 1984;251:2696-2698.
  13. 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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