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Professional boxing has often had the reputation of being a dirty sport. Movies like Requiem For A Heavyweight (1962) and The Harder They Fall (1956) have depicted questionable practices in the sport. They were not far off the mark. Unfortunately, some amateur boxing programs are guilty of indulging in the same practices. This should not be so.
A parent told me they pulled their teen out of an amateur boxing program. There had been an attempt by an adult to convince the teen to participate in a boxing show. It was discovered that the boxing show was not a sanctioned one. Also, the boxing credentials of the adult could not be verified. The parent questioned the coach as to why that adult was allowed in the gym, but they did not receive satisfactory answers.Most amateur boxing programs are designed for youths who want to learn the sweet science. Some programs also offer training for adults. An amateur program can be a springboard to a professional boxing career. But unless the gym is also training professionals in the same place, it is understood that people will have to transfer from an amateur boxing program to a professional gym elsewhere. There are differences between the two that should not be mixed up. Parents and guardians should be on the watch for certain things in order to protect their youths.
- Know who all of the adults in the program are. Boxing gyms everywhere are full of people claiming to be coaches, promoters, and even former fighters. The coach should not allow any and every adult to hang around in a youth boxing program. Question everyone, especially those who are claiming they can create boxing opportunities, better training, etc., to youths in the gym. Some of the ones claiming to be involved in the sport attempt to fast talk parents and guardians into allowing youth to do things—that is if the parents and guardians are told anything at all.
- What is the training style of the coach? Some gruffness is to be expected out of coaches who are interested in youths being at their best for boxing matches. Over-training youths to the point of injury and exhaustion, however, is not acceptable from either the coach or gym volunteers. Excessive verbal abuse directed towards youths should not be taking place, either. Beware of coaches who are stuck on their fighters winning all the time at all costs.
- Professional fighters should not be training in what is designated as an amateur gym. Amateur gyms are either free or less expensive, which is why some pro fighters will attempt to go to in order to get extra training. However, gyms catering to youths have strict rules regarding training times and age requirements. Adults should not be training in the gym at the same time the youths are.
- Fighters should be matched as evenly as possible during boxing shows. Watch coaches who think 16-ounce gloves and headgear will be enough to protect in matches where one fighter is bigger, taller, older, younger, has more fights, etc., than another fighter. Some coaches will allow mismatched fights to be made just to fill up the slots at boxing shows. Youths should not be pressured into taking matches. Mismatched fights can lead to unnecessary and serious injuries. Parents and guardians have the right to not allow their youths to participate in matches if it appears safety measures are not being considered. Be sure that the boxing show is approved and sanctioned. Youths should never be involved in underground boxing matches where rules may not exist.
- Are girls welcomed in the gym? Another parent I know put in a complaint when their daughter was verbally harassed by a male in the gym. It appears the atmosphere of the gym was toxic to girls, especially those who had won fights. If the coach shows reluctance to training girls, and/or bullying is coming from other males on the premises, it is time to switch gyms.