End the standing eight count

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Mark Kleiman correctly observes that boxing gloves make boxing more dangerous:
As long as prizefighters wear boxing gloves, which protect the delicate bones of their hands so they can safely concuss one another's brains, a few of them are going to die and a lot of them are going to suffer permanent neurological injury. The deaths are more newsworthy, but to my mind the injuries are more heartbreaking.

The contrast between the witty, agile Cassius Clay who struck down Sonny Liston and the brain-damaged stumblebum who is now Muhammed Ali is all the evidence anyone should need to conclude that a major reform is necessary.

And that reform couldn't be simpler: take off the gloves. Then fighters will pound one another's bodies for hours on end, as they did in the Gentleman Jim Corbett era. That might not be as exciting as watching shorter bouts decided by knockouts, but unlike contemporary prizefighting it would be a sport that a decent person who understood was happening could watch without disgust.

The other simple change that would make boxing a lot safer is to eliminate the standing eight count after a knockdown. As with gloves, the standing eight count is supposedly protective, but actually has the reverse effect because it increases the amount of damage a fighter can take during a fight before it's stopped.

It's also highly unrealistic, as can be easily seen by watching mixed martial arts competitions (UFC, Pride, etc.) in which fighters are not protected after being knocked down. When your opponent is knocked down is exactly when you want to press your advantage. Under MMA rules, stunning your opponent even for a second or two is generally a fight-ender because it allows you to assume a dominant position and finish the fight. Under boxing rules, the ref would simply separate you and give the opponent a standing eight count.

It's also arguable that this change would make boxing a lot more interesting because it increases the chance that any given exchange will end the fight, rather than just being one of an endless series of knockdowns and eight counts.

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1 Comments

It's questionable whether Muhammed Ali's ailments are due to his boxing career. Ali suffers from Parkinson's disease, and according to this article, http://www.parkinson.org/site/pp.asp?c=9dJFJLPwB&b=164717, there is no firm link between minor head injuries and Parkinson's.

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