Women boxers must wear headguards for Newcastle’s “Fight Night”, whilst men do not

Newcastle’s much anticipated event, Fight Night, is taking place tonight at Newcastle’s Student Union. But this will be the first time that Newcastle University told Fight Night organisers that they will not allow the event to run unless the female participants wear headguards.

It was a rule until 2014 that both male and female amateur boxers had to wear headguards for boxing matches. Then, during the 2014 Commonwealth Games, men’s boxing events were banned from using protective headguards. This came off the back of research that uncovered boxers wearing headguards were more likely to get injured due to factors like obscured vision.

Whilst men may benefit from the removal of the headguard, women must continue to use it. This is due to women’s boxing being a young sport so there is a lack of research into how it may affect the performance of female boxers.

Whilst this is not a new rule for boxing, it is the first year the University has introduced this rule. In Rio’s 2016 Olympic Games, men were freed from the head gear whilst their female counterparts continued to compete with the old rule. The banning of men’s headguards remains in place in the event regulations for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

So why has Newcastle University decided to only just implement the rule this year?

Female participant, Georgia McMillan, said: “This came as a bit of a shock to us. Since the beginning, we were told you don’t wear headguards, they’ve never worn headguards in the past at Fight Night. Then a few weeks in I remember Andy, our coach, came in a bit agitated. He said the University was trying to get us to wear headguards and that they were trying to fight against it, so they were on top of it.

Then the news that we have to wear them comes out only about a week and a half ago, so we have two week left until the fight. They turn around and say that the University won’t let us run the event unless all the girls wear headguards. It’s just interesting that the University decided this year of all years, when that’s been the rule since around 2016.

Georgia McMillan, Fight Night participant

Newcastle University’s Athletics Union Officer, Joe Gubbins, said: “The reason that women have to wear headguards and men do not is that we follow AIBA (Amateur International Boxing Association) regulations for the fights and this is their protocol. All men are offered the opportunity to wear headguards also and it is their choice whether to do so or not.”

Joe Gubbins, Newcastle University’s Athletics Union Officer

Whilst it is understandable that the University is following AIBA rules, why was this not the case for the Fight Night held in November and those preceding this?

*Later this week, I will also be uploading an interview with participant Georgia McMillan. She will be telling us more about her experience training for Fight Night, why it’s important for women to break into sports that have previously been dominated by men and her advice for anyone wanting pick up a pair of gloves and get in the ring.

Featured image: Arisa Chattasa on Unsplash

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