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Bellary expected to host BFI Men’s National Championship in September

The Boxing Federation Of India is planning to conduct the Men’s National Championships from September 15 to 22 at the Inspire Institute of Sports in Karnataka’s Bellary and is considering the possibility of allowing pugilists to compete with head guards at the event.

Since the widespread outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Men’s National Championship which had to be held last year was cancelled. The upcoming event will also compete in the new weight categories introduced by the International Boxing Association last month.

The AIBA events and Olympic competitions do not feature head guards but national associations are free to conduct their tournaments with or without the protective gear. “There is an executive committee meeting on September 3 where this will be discussed and if there is consensus, we will allow boxers to wear head guards during the championships,” BFI Secretary General Hemanta Kalita told PTI.

The revised weight divisions for men, after being increased from 10 to 13, are 48kg, 51kg, 54kg, 57kg, 60kg, 63.5kg, 67kg, 71kg, 75kg, 80kg, 86kg, 92kg, and +92kg. Men’s amateur boxing did away with head guards in 2013 after the AIBA medical commission, after a research study, concluded that removing the gear “may reduce the already small risk of acute brain injury in amateur boxing.”

“The AIBA gives national federations the choice to conduct their domestic events with or without head guards,” he added. The AIBA research had concluded that head guards can increase the risk of blows to the head because the padding around the eyes limits the boxer’s vision.

The head guards were made mandatory in 1984 by AIBA before being dumped in 2013. “It is a great idea because fighting without head guards in one-off bouts in the professional circuit is fine but in a tournament that involves competing continuously for four-five days, it is better to have head guards,” said former Commonwealth Games gold-medallist Akhil Kumar.

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