Sport is treated very differently to real life. In football, many assaults occur on the pitch but they are not prosecuted. In ice hockey, spectators expect to see a fight at every match and in boxing you expect to see the competitors with at least a few cuts at the end of a fight. Those who are responsible for the assault are not prosecuted in most cases because it appears that much assault has become an accepted part of sport. In the Attorney General's Reference no.
6 of 1980, it was stated that it was not in the public interest 'that people should try to or should cause each other bodily harm (for no good reason)' but there is an exception where fighting is conducted under the Queensbury rules. 23 In R v. Coney, Stephens J states that prize fighting is 'injurious to the public'24 for two main reasons. First, it is against public interest that lives and health are endangered due to blows received. Second, that prize fights are disorderly exhibits.
25 Boxing is to some extent against public interest because of the violence involved but boxing matches appear to be well organised and managed. Policy reasons for Boxing remaining legal Prize fighting was declared illegal in the case of R v. Coney, but it still exists. Therefore, Parliament cannot expect to dissolve such a long established sport overnight. As far as prize fighting is concerned, attempts to eradicate the sport have proved unsuccessful and it appears even more unlikely that any attempt to eliminate boxing will fail.
Boxers would simply retreat to the underground world of boxing where there would be less safety measures and a higher risk of serious injury and even death. Presently, boxing is considered to be a 'very safe sport'. 26 Special protection can be worn by the competitors and there are rules, which limit the play of boxing so the more dangerous blows are not permitted. Doctors are always on standby and the referee can stop the match at any time if he considers the bout to be too dangerous to continue.
27 If boxing were banned, it is likely that few of these measures would be in force and the sport would become even more of a danger to those taking part. Therefore, it would be a contradiction to argue that banning boxing would prevent serious injuries and death. It would just take the sport away from our television screens and arenas and place it where fewer people would have access to it; the sour core of boxing would not be targeted. Many boxers are from underprivileged backgrounds. It is better for them to go into boxing rather than adopt a drug habit or turn to alcohol.
If boxing were banned, the lesson of discipline that accompanies boxing would be lost and an increasing number of young adults may turn to illegal activities, possibly boxing. 28 There are other dangerous sports that are legal. For example, Formula One racing caries with it risks, not only to those who compete in races but also to the spectators. We would not accuse a Formula One driver of dangerous and reckless driving if he were to lose control of the vehicle and injure a spectator. Sport is different to everyday events.
When driving on the motorway, particular speed limits have to be adhered to and the driver must drive with care. When on the Formula One track, the driver can go as fast as he pleases and can take more risks because it is a competition and there is a prize to aim for. Policy reasons against boxing remaining legal Boxing almost mirrors prize fighting, the only real difference being that prize fighting is illegal and no boxing gloves are worn. They both involve violence and could both result in death.
The argument that boxing has always existed and so should therefore continue stands in the shadow of the pure violence, which the sport almost encourages. In society today, violence is problematic and so for boxing to remain legal appears to almost promote accepted violence. It has been suggested that Mike Tyson's behaviour outside the ring was fuelled by his need to become a better fighter in the ring29 and so we have to question how much boxing can affect everyday lives. Boxing could be considered a violent sport.
In order to score the most points within a bout, you must knock your opponent out which could result in severe brain damage. It can also be a dangerous sport despite the protection given to the competitors. Vivienne Nathanson of the British Medical Association believes that boxing should be banned and she provides two main reasons for her view. First, that occasionally a boxer is killed or seriously injured. However, other sports such as motor racing can also result in death. Second, a single blow to the head may result in the boxer receiving 'a minor degree of injury to the brain.
'30 The problem here is that constant blows to the head may cause long-term damage and in the most extreme cases, even severe Parkinson's disease, which is how Mohammed Ali is suspected to have contracted the disease. 31 It is not in the public interest to witness two people punching each other with the aim of trying to knock the other one out. It could be viewed as promoting violence to younger children. If they grow up with boxing on television, they may try to reproduce famous bouts in the playgrounds or imitate their boxing hero. It is not pleasant to hear of someone boasting about breaking someone's ribs.
Society punishes assault of this kind and so to hear a boxer say that he enjoys hearing the sound of his opponent's ribs cracking32 is disconcerting and a contradiction to the law of England and Wales. Boxing appears to be a good career for underprivileged youngsters to venture into. However, it is an exploitative industry and many boxers, by the time they retire are left with very little money. The money earned from the 'purse' of one fight goes towards the boxer's training, recuperation, their manager, trainers, match makers, agents and the Inland Revenue.
The boxer earns very little for taking part in such a risky sport and so if boxing is not banned, rules need to be drawn up to try and reduce the exploitation. 33 Conclusion Boxing is currently a legal sport under the law of England and Wales; no penalty is administered if a bout takes places within the rules of the game. Conversely, whether it should be banned by Parliament is still debateable. If we look at particular elements of the sport, we may conclude that boxing is illegal due to the assaults that occur and so it should therefore be banned by Parliament.
It seems unfair to have such a conflict of rules. It is however generally accepted that sportsmen and women are immune from many offences, which the general public would be found guilty of. Boxing is considered to one such sport where immunity is granted. It is not often viewed as being a very civilised sport due to the violence involved and the extent of damage caused to the competitors. Research has shown that almost every time a boxer receives a blow to the head, he receives some form of brain damage. Boxing is a sport steeped in history and tradition and so would be difficult to outlaw.
There is also the fear that if boxing were outlawed then it would retreat to the 'underground' where activities would become more dangerous due to the lack of legal rules. Boxing should not be banned by Parliament immediately but stricter rules should be created for the game to try to minimise damage caused. People will always want to box, whether the sport is legal or not. If others do not agree with the sport then they can choose whether or not to watch it. Either way, the decision of the boxer to take part in a fight should be respected.