Referees “unfit” to assess concussion in boxing, says charity

Safety protocol concerns in sport have been reignited after a charity highlighted the poor treatment of one of Britain’s biggest sporting stars.

In a recent report, the brain injury charity Headway expressed concerns after British heavyweight boxer Anthony Joshua was allowed to continue fighting, despite his coach “knowing” he was concussed.

Describing the discovery as a “shock revelation”, Headway Deputy Chief Luke Griggs said trainers should prioritise protecting their boxers instead of winning the fight.

“Trainers have a duty of care to their boxers and it seems clear that Anthony Joshua’s trainer’s sole priority was winning that fight, not protecting the fighter from a potentially fatal injury,” he said.

While a concussion can vary in severity, any subsequent blow can exacerbate the damage.

“You are most at risk of having a particularly serious or fatal brain injury if the brain has already been damaged and a concussion has already been sustained,” said Mr Griggs.

However, Mr Griggs doubts that the admission is an “isolated incident” in boxing.

The most common signs of concussion occur within a few minutes or hours after an injury, usually including a headache accompanied by dizziness, sickness, memory loss, clumsiness, confusion, erratic behaviour and blurred vision.

However, boxers are given very little time to be checked over and given the all-clear.

“Boxers are celebrated for their bravery when they just about manage to beat a standing eight-count – during which the referee is tasked with deciding whether or not they’re fit to continue.

“You are basically asking the referee to conduct an impromptu concussion assessment with all these people watching, in too short a period of time and when they are not qualified to do so.”

The charity has now asked boxing officials to take a serious look at safety protocols to protect boxers from serious brain injuries.

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