Objective: To determine injury rates and risk factors for injury in a cohort of professional boxers.
Design: Retrospective cohort design reporting on data collected for a fight statistics database maintained by the Professional Boxing and Combat Sports Board of Victoria, Australia. Data were extracted for the years January 1997 through June 2005.
Setting: Victoria, Australia.
Participants: 545 professional boxers (age, 18 to 43 years) who participated in a total of 907 fights over the study period.
Assessment of risk factors: Independent variables under investigation included age, gender, weight, bout exposure, and location of the bout (within or outside of the State of Victoria).
Main outcome measures: Physician-reported acute boxing injuries occurring during bouts of any region or nature.
Results: 214 injuries were sustained over the 8.5 years, corresponding to an injury rate of 23.6 per 100 professional fights. The majority of these injuries were lacerations to the head and face. An increasing age and an increasing number of fights were both significant predictors of injury.
Conclusions: Injury reduction strategies for professional boxing might include restrictions of eligibility to fight based on age and boxing bout exposure. Future research using prospective cohort designs and standardized injury definitions are needed to confirm these results. Greater mechanistic detail and more complete data entry are necessary to ensure that optimal injury prevention strategies can be developed and implemented. Upon confirmation of the results of this study, the Professional Boxing and Combat Sports Board of Victoria may consider different criteria upon which to sanction a fight.