Olympic boxing drops headgear for Rio Games

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After watching wrestling get ousted from the Olympics, the International Boxing Association is doing whatever it can to innovate its sport, including some substantial rule changes that happened over the weekend.

Most notably, boxers will fight without head gear for the first time since the 1980 Moscow Games, and will compete under the professional 10-point per round scoring system, instead of the controversial punch-count system.

“There’s no evidence protective gear shows a reduction in incidence of concussion,” Charles Butler, chairman of AIBA’s medical commission, said. “In 1982, when the American Medical Association moved to ban boxing, everybody panicked and put headgear on the boxers. But nobody ever looked to see what the headgear did.”

Headgear has been a staple of the last eight Summer Olympics, but many believe that it allows boxers to sustain more jarring head shots over an extended period, and limits the competitors’ peripheral vision.

As far as the punch-count scoring – implemented mostly because Roy Jones Jr. was robbed of a gold at the Seoul Olympics – it’s been similarly maligned for being unsafe and susceptible to failure.

It’s believe that Both moves, which fall more in line with how professional boxing operates, will encourage top amateurs to compete in the Olympics rather than sidestep the Games and to start their careers.

“It is AIBA’s duty to bring the sport of boxing to the pinnacle of the Olympic Movement,” AIBA president Wu Ching-Kuo said. “I am convinced that these changes will critically contribute to the development of our beloved sport,”