Since the tragic death of Patrick Day, boxing has been reeling from calls for an urgent review into the safety of the sport.
Day, 27, passed away from head injuries suffered in a fight with Charles Conwell. He became the fourth fatality in the last three months alone.
The American, Boris Stanchov, Maxim Dadashev and Hugo Santillán all succumbed to massive trauma in the ring since July.
At least seven other boxers have been hospitalized during that time. They include Oleksandr Gvozdyk last Friday night.
Former WBC title holder Gvozdyk was released from hospital on Monday.
Between the dawn of the sport and the present day, it’s estimated that over 1500 boxers have died. This is according to several independent reports.
On the other hand, Wikipedia’s page on ‘Deaths in Boxing’ reads: ‘Approximately 500 boxers have died in the ring or as a result of boxing since Queensberry Rules were introduced in 1884.
The statistics continued to reveal, ’22 boxers died in 1953 alone.’
According to a study by Joseph Svinth in 2011, deaths in boxing have steadily decreased since 15 rounds were reduced to 12. Svinth claims to have uncovered 233 boxing-related deaths in the 1920s. It’s not known how accurate this information actually is.
Compare this with just 103 in the whole of the 2000 to 2010 period.
Boxing certainly has come on leaps and bounds since a shocking incident involving lightweight Duk-Koo Kim. The South Korean died in 1983 four days after being KO’d by Ray ‘Boom Boom’ Mancini in Las Vegas.
Organizations then united to cut rounds permanently to the 12 we see today.
Ten years ago, the American Medical Association estimated that there were 0.13 deaths per 1,000 participants per year. But just by taking the over 1500 deaths figure and dividing by 125 years of the sport, you’d come up with an average of just over 12 boxers losing their lives per year.
This number is still less than or similar to seven sports at the time of that 2009 report.
“This fatality rate is lower than or similar to the rates of other high-risk sports, such as college football, motorcycle racing, scuba diving, mountaineering, hang gliding, sky diving, and horse racing,” said the American Medical Association.
“Fatalities occur less often among amateur than professional boxers, averaging at about three deaths per year compared with 9–10 deaths per year from professional boxing.”
In regards to safety surrounding the major events, there’s not much more boxing can actually do.
The fact most of the recent deaths have come at the very top in televised events has been far more damaging, reputation-wise.
Maxim Dadashev and Patrick Day fought on TV events with two of the world’s biggest promoters. The pair had the maximum safety measures required.
Ringside doctors, instant oxygen and medical attention were all on hand. Sadly, nothing could be done to save two fighters in their mid-20’s.
There have now been calls for a complete review of training and cutting weight methods.
This is to uncover whether taking shots in sparring or boiling down too much to make divisional limits have an outstanding effect on those who risk their lives in the squared circle.
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News and an Auxiliary member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay