Boxing, Youth and Children

J Paediatr Child Health. 1998 Aug;34(4):311-3. doi: 10.1046/j.1440-1754.1998.00231.x.


Boxing remains a popular spectator sport, success in which is achieved by the promotion of boxing in the childhood years. Despite the failure to ban boxing generally, there remains the realistic expectation that organised boxing by children below the age of consent (appropriately 16 years) is still achievable. There are two reasons for banning children under the age of 16 years from boxing. The first is that children have little awareness of risk, specifically the risk of chronic encephalopathy, which develops only after a lag period measured in decades or more. The second is that there is no place in contemporary society for a youth sport which has, as its primary goal, the infliction of acute brain damage on an opponent. This paper analyses the medical and ethico-social issues implicit in this subject. Boxing, in historical perspective, has been an altruistic amateur sport for boys and male youths, and has a proud tradition. But in the context of social evolution, and in current perspective to prevent exploitation of underprivileged youths, the time has come for an absolute ban on underage boxing. Such is achievable even if adult boxing remains an Olympic and television sport for some time to come.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Boxing* / injuries
  • Boxing* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Brain Injuries* / etiology
  • Brain Injuries* / prevention & control
  • Child
  • Child Welfare*
  • Ethics
  • Female
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prejudice
  • Social Control, Formal