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Negative Effects of Boxing – Is the Sport Worth It?

boxer training in a gym

It’s 21st century and we all know the majors – MMA, Boxing, Muay Thai, etc. Watching the fights on our TVs or phones might encourage us to start such a sport / martial art, or even pursue such career.

In this article I’d like to go through one sport in particular, traditional boxing, and mainly cover its negative effects. Most of them apply to other fighting sports as well, though.

Boxing is a beloved sport that has been around for centuries, like an old pair of gloves that has been passed down from generation to generation. But just like those old gloves, it has seen better days and has some wear and tear. Despite its widespread popularity and cultural significance, it is not without its negative effects.

The physical toll of the sport, as well as its potential for long-term neurological damage, have led many to question whether the sport should continue in its current form.

Physical Damage (Not Just the Visible One)

Boxing is a physically demanding sport that can cause a wide range of injuries, like a game of whack-a-mole. Boxers are at risk of head injuries, broken bones, and cuts, as well as long-term damage to their hands, wrists, and shoulders. These are the physical booby prizes you get for participating in the sport. Good quality gear might help you to protect yourself, but in the long run it will on slow down the damage.

In addition to these physical injuries, boxers also often suffer from a range of other health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. These risks are particularly high for professional boxers, who often suffer from chronic pain and other health issues as a result of their years in the ring, like a veteran soldier from the war.

The most serious physical risks associated with boxing are head injuries. I mean, one can expect that, right? But let’s dive into more details.

Boxers (recreational and professional alike) are at risk of concussions, skull fractures, and brain damage. The repeated blows to the head that boxers endure can lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a very unpleasant degenerative brain disease that can cause a wide range of symptoms, including memory loss, depression, and even dementia. Ouch, right?

CTE is like a silent killer that creeps on you in the middle of a night, it can only be diagnosed post-mortem, but the effects of repeated head trauma can also manifest themselves in less severe forms of brain damage, such as a mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), which can be debilitating and last for a long time.

Mental Health Consequences – Know Thyself

In addition to the physical toll of boxing, the sport can also have serious effects on mental health. Particularly, the stress of training and competing in a violent sport can lead to anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). That’s right, you can get depression even from a fighting sport – what a world we live in, right?

It’s like taking a mental beating as well as a physical one. Many boxers struggle with mental health issues as a result of the sport, and it can be difficult for them to get the help they need. It’s like being stuck in a maze with no way out.

Boxing can also lead to addiction and substance abuse, as boxers may turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with the physical and emotional pain of the sport.

Not many people really think about it, but if a boxer is knocked out cold and later, he wakes up, what’s the first thing he sees and hears? Hundreds of people celebrating his opponent. Not much of an ego boost, right?

Economic Consequences – Where’s the Money?

Boxing can be a financial knockout (pun intended), particularly for professional boxers. Many boxers struggle to make a living wage, and even successful boxers often find it difficult to support themselves and their families after their careers are over. “Why fight for a paycheck when you can fight for free?” is what many boxers may ask themselves.

Don’t forget, you get to serious money only if you are progressing – and winning for that matter. By the time you reach even a prospect of serious money, you can already be in a pretty bad shape.

The sport can be financially exploitative, with many boxers being taken advantage of by promoters and managers who are more interested in making money than looking out for the well-being of their fighters. It’s like a game of Monopoly, but instead of houses and hotels, they build careers and legacies.

Of course, best to finish the career while you still know your name, right?

Unfortunately, after their careers are done, a lot of boxers struggle with homelessness, unemployment, and poverty. It resembles climbing to the top of the success ladder only to trip and fall back to the bottom. It’s a brutal truth that’s challenging to accept. Another particularly powerful hit on boxers’ mental well-being.

But let’s not overlook the historical and cultural relevance of boxing. It reminds you of a valuable collector’s piece that you can’t help but like. But it must be handled with care, just like any priceless item.

Negative Effects of Boxing – Conclusion

It is obvious that adjustments must be done in order to better protect boxers’ physical and mental health and wellbeing given the sport’s physical and mental toll as well as the economic exploitation that many of them experience.

Now that you know the darker side of boxing, you can ask the age-old question: “Is it worth it?”

Here we didn’t talk about benefits of boxing, but there are of course plenty as well. I believe it can be a very beneficial sport if you are up to it, but don’t forget to take proper care of yourself. Have a good diet, take care of your body, spend time with friends, meditate, make sure you know your money management and do stuff that makes you happy – all of this can certainly help you on your boxing path.

Jake Dennon

I am an avid sports enthusiast who has been fortunate enough to train with some of the best athletes and coaches in the world.

As a child, I had a keen interest in martial arts (karate). I've trained with one of the best trainers in my home country.

Moving into my teenage years I tried everything from calisthenics to weight lifting to Taekwondo and everything in between. While I do love all kinds of sports, my passion still lies in martial arts.

The combat sport coaches I have been trained by have also trained some of the top fighters in the industry. All of these brilliant trainers (and all the ones in between) have shown me just how rewarding keeping fit and healthy can be.

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