Boxing Matches Couldn't Be Held If Doctors Refused To Be At The Ringside

June 12, 1998

(Could boxing be banned? A legal and epidemiological perspective)

In an Education and Debate paper in this week's BMJ, Professor Hugh Brayne from the University of Sunderland writes that scientific evidence shows that boxing, both professional and amateur, endangers health.

He notes that no boxing case has ever been heard in the courts and so the legal system has never been asked to consider the scientific evidence against the sport. Even without legislation, says the author, the law could place limitations on the sport. Brayne considers the legal implications of the sport, taking into account intent to cause bodily harm and the issue of consent. He suggests that two possible test cases could be considered in the event of a fight resulting in serious injury or death:- a claim for compensation against the promoter or referee or a criminal prosecution based on the known scientific evidence.

He concludes that since medical cover is a legal requirement at all boxing promotions, the profession should consider whether members should participate, in light of its own ethical standards. If they didn't, boxing would become an impossible activity.


Professor Hugh Brayne, Sunderland Business School, University of Sunderland, Sunderland

Carol Brayne, Lecturer, Department of Community Medicine, University of Cambridge, Cambridge


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