For seven years, Winnipeg’s Dylan Martin has been strapping on the gloves and stepping inside the boxing ring.
The sport, he says, has played a huge role in his life and is about more than just hitting his opponent in the head.
“It’s helped me in my professional life, the challenges I face in the ring and the gym play into everyday situations,” Martin said. “You might not think it does, but it does.”
But questions about the sport’s future have been raised after Canadian boxer Adonis Stevenson was left in critical condition after taking repeated shots to the head during a recent fight.
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David Sullivan, executive director of the Manitoba Brain Injury Association, says it’s tough for him to watch two boxers slug it out.
“Why would you do that? Why would you purposely go and take that risk?,” Sullivan said.
“You can have a little bit of damage and then another bit of damage, but all those things add up to a whole world of hurt.”
Martin has never suffered a major head injury and says he is well aware of the risks when stepping into the squared circle.
“It does a lot for a lot of people,” Martin said. “As long as the coach is aware and you’re aware, it’s going to do more good than harm.”
He is also on the Boxing Manitoba board and said several safety measures are in place. There are doctors on site at weigh-ins and at ringside during a match, who can inspect the fighters between rounds.
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Further, fighters are only allowed to box once a day at tournaments, and are also put through a concussion protocol when showing risks.
But Sullivan thinks no amount of safety can take away the potential effects.
“As long as it’s about trying to knock someone out by punching them in the head or jaw,” Sullivan said, “what are we going to do?”