WITH top amateurs now boxing without headguards and so just like professionals are more susceptible to being cut. Rio will be the first Olympics where the male boxers will compete without protective headgear. The first time since the Los Angeles Games in 1984.
We asked Dr. Mike Loosemore, the experienced GB team doctor at the English Institute of Sport, how to handle cuts. He explains in his own words:
DURING THE CONTEST
Cuts in the ring can be dealt with by someone in the corner and there’s been an extra coach or an extra person allowed in the corner [in amateur contests] for this very reason, to be able to deal with cuts that boxers get.
Adrenalin is the easiest [substance] to use and the one [England Boxing] are going to make available. [Amateur] coaches will be allowed to use 1:1000 on cuts during fights and this should be effective at reducing bleeding during the fight itself.
The course [England Boxing] are going to do is to show people how to use adrenalin on cuts, which cuts are to be concerned about and which cuts are not so concerning, so the coaches treat them appropriately at ringside.
For a cut, what they should do is put direct pressure around the cut and put adrenalin on the cut with pressure. So you put pressure on either side of the cut to stop the bleeding, then you put adrenalin into the middle of the cut and put pressure on.
What you don’t do: you don’t put Vaseline into the cut. Because it makes it difficult for it to heal up afterwards when it’s sutured. You try to keep the Vaseline out of the cut. You don’t wipe the cut, you never wipe the cut, with a towel or a swab or anything. You always put direct pressure on. Because if you wipe a cut it takes away all the clot that you’ve formed. What you’re trying to do is get it to clot.
You want a lint-free swab (cotton wool’s not very good because you get little bits of material in the cut) or a cotton bud, something you can use to put the neat adrenalin, the 1:1000 adrenalin directly on the cut with a bit of pressure.
AFTER THE CONTEST
It depends where the cut is and it depends how deep the cut is for the best way to repair it. I’d recommend that for any cut that you think is so big it needs suturing you get it done in hospital; you should take cuts to hospital where the environment is clean, where they have the proper equipment and the proper lighting so they can do a proper job on it.
I think it’s important for boxers that they have cuts closed properly and correctly because, if they don’t, it makes them more vulnerable to getting cut in the same place in the future.
Some people just cut easier than other people and that’s usually due to the shape of their face and whether their super-orbital ridges stick out more than other people’s.
You can be unlucky and just have the sort of face where you get cut. But you can also box unlucky and get cut. Some people the way they box, their heads get close together, then they stand more chance of getting cut than if they have a style where their heads are further apart.
The most important thing is if the initial cut is sewn up or closed properly – it might be glue or it might be Steri-Strips – you want to get it done as soon as possible after the fight. Waiting until the following day is not so good, you want to try to get it done as quickly as possible so it heals up better. You want it done in a clean environment where anything like Vaseline can be cleaned out of the cut and then it’s sewn up with a decent quality material or glued together or Steri- Stripped together in an area where there’s plenty of light so the person who’s doing it can see what they’re doing, so a hospital environment or a clinical environment.
DURING A TOURNAMENT
In a tournament situation, at the medical on the morning of the fight, as long as the cut is closed and tidy and there are no outside sutures on the skin then they’ll be allowed to box.
The most important thing is that you get the cut closed. Once the cut’s closed there’s not much more you can do about the cut. The important thing to do in a tournament is to keep the swelling down. That’s the real problem. It’s not the cut that’s going to get you stopped the following day. It’s the fact that you’ve got swelling around the cut and obviously if you are cut and the tissue is damaged, swelling is likely to happen so you need to put cold pressure on the area, regular icing, regular pressure and if you’ve got to sleep overnight, sleep in an upright position if you can to try to stop the swelling coming up. The swelling’s going to be the problem not the actual cut. You’re much more likely to not be allowed to box if your eye’s all swollen with a cut than if it’s not swollen with a cut.
THE HEALING PROCESS
You want the skin to heal up as best it can but that’s just a case of having good nutrition and keeping well. It’s difficult, if people are cutting in the same place all the time, it’s probably more to do with their anatomy than the previous cut. Because cuts will often be quite strong after they’ve healed up because the scar tissue is quite tough. So it’s only if they box too soon after the cut, that it’ll unzip.
You can put on things like vitamin E cream to try to keep the skin healthy and help the scars heal.
Apart from keeping yourself in good condition, eating well, putting Vaseline on before you fight in appropriate areas it’s very difficult to do anything else.