By Jackie Kallen
I was stunned recently to read that the American Academy of Pediatrics is calling for a ban on boxing for anyone under the age of 19. They are encouraging kids to play other sports that do not involve taking blows to the head.
I’m sure they mean well, but they have obviously not watched my grandsons and their friends play hockey. Helmets help, but there are plenty of injuries in hockey, as well as in football. Young boxers wear protective headgear, also, and the physicality of the sport is healthy and invigorating.
Even AAP acknowledges that the overall injury risk for boxing, compared with many other sports, is lower than “other collision sports such as football, ice hockey, wrestling, and soccer.” So why this outcry against boxing? Not enough young people are turning to our sport as is. Who needs this discouraging report?
The amateur boxing program in this country is in trouble. Less and less good gyms exist and there seems to be a shortage of qualified coaches and trainers. There appear to be less families that are encouraging their teenagers to pursue the sport.
I believe the AAP is missing the fact that the boxing workout is probably the best all-around training for a young person. It improves stamina, controls weight gain, and teaches discipline.
Kids engaged in boxing have much fewer fights on the street and have better-controlled tempers. Since most of their routine in the gym is not spent in the ring sparring, the dangers are slight. When was the last time anyone read about an amateur boxer dying? Never, in my 33 years in the sport.
Jackie Kallen is a boxing manager who has been in the business for over three decades. Her life inspired the Meg Ryan film “Against the Ropes” and she was a part of the NBC series “The Contender.” www.JackieKallen.com, www.facebook.com/JackieKallen