Feature | Premium | Oct 10 2019

Boxing needs to address its mental health problem

George Gigney speaks to key figures and explores boxing’s developing relationship with mental health
England Boxing
mental-health  |  iStock

BOXING is 80 per cent mental. At least. Any self-respecting member of our close-knit fraternity will tell you that. The other 20 per cent is predominantly covered by the arduous training camps fighters put themselves through to ensure they’re in peak condition on fight night. If an injury occurs, it is dealt with as soon as possible and, if need be, the fight is postponed or cancelled altogether. On the whole, fighters are quick to flag up any physical problems they’re having.

It’s a different story when it comes to mental health.

Research shows that one in four of us in the UK will struggle with a mental health problem every year. In boxing rhetoric, that’s one person in each corner of a fight. Consider also that, in the UK, suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 45. For a male-dominated sport like boxing, that is an alarming statistic. However, studies show that around twice as many women suffer from depression as men – yet the male to female suicide rate is 3:1 in the UK, and that trend is similar across the globe according to the World Health Organisation.


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