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The Dread of Dreadlocks

Posted on 06/30/2008

Look here; far be it from me to judge anyone’s hairstyle.
It’s their business. Lord knows I’ve had too many ridiculous quaffs it’s baffling. But when I had dreadlocks, I almost put my eyes out on 5 different occasions.
I have permanent damage in my left cornea from just jamming onstage and having them whip into my peepers.
When the Dr. said if I injured my left eye again, I could lose it (my vision).
I left the office and shaved my head.
It’s never been proven that a boxer who sports dreadlocks has any advantage over an opponent without. But in a physical match, where both guys’ heads come together frequently, and the rolling around of both heads on the inside occur as often as a clean punch lands, I cringe. Dreadlocks are as hard as rocks. They can be jagged in texture. They have weight to them.
Before Lennox Lewis defended his undisputed heavy title against David Tua, I had to chuckle a little about the issues being made about Tua’s lid (and his lid itself). Tua, a native of New Zealand, has hair that is very much an Afro. It’s naturally soft. At 5’10, Tua’s hair, even when he grows it out as he did vs. the 6’5 Lewis, was never much of a threat to any fighter because of his hairstyle.
Imagine if Evander Holyfield had dreadlocks during the later part of his career! I’d bet it could become an issue quickly. You know certain fighters who “make no excuses” would be the first to cry about it. Like John Ruiz.
Or Mike Tyson. Or Hasim Rahman for crying out loud!
When it comes to Lennox, he was a huge man who used his size and weight to his advantage. Although an excellent outside boxer, he would commit to clenches where he would impose his strength, lean on his opposition, fight inside, and get off his concussive uppercuts.
In the midst of his career, he too, began growing dreads.
By the time he fought his last pro fight vs. Vitali Klitchko, whom was just about 2 inches taller than he, his ‘locks were down past his broad shoulders. To his credit, he always kept his hair tied back very tightly.
But in that fight, as exciting and grueling as it turned out to be, Lennox’ hair became unraveled. Make no mistake; the axe wound type cut over Vitali’s left eye was surely caused by a Lewis right hand.
But the inside grappling had to make a difference.
Granted Vitali had never fought the caliber of opponent as Lennox Lewis before, but his face had never fallen to pieces like that before, in any other professional outing.
In a bit of humble advice to the boxing commissions out there, and the powers that be (what a joke), every pro boxer should have a ‘regular man’s’ haircut. For lack of better words, a ‘military’ style haircut, or a shaved head. Accidental butts that cause cuts won’t magically disappear, nor will gum shields for that matter. Anyone who has dreadlocks may also recognize, after they get to a long length, the weight that I mentioned before, hinders head movement (check Shannon Briggs as one example).
Just something to ponder, when the priority of the sport is the safety of the fighters…
Philip H. Anselmo

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