What Are the Common Causes of Boxing Fatalities?

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  • Written By: Alex Tree
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 15 May 2020
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Some of the most common causes of boxing fatalities are head injuries. Strokes and brain swelling are major concerns after a hard punch to the head and lead the way as the most common causes of death. Fatalities caused by blows to the chest are less common but always a possibility with a heavy contact sport. Doctors have looked into the number of rounds and punches and the amount of force behind the blows that lead to boxing fatalities.

The leading cause of boxing fatalities is an acute brain hemorrhage, which is a type of stroke. Brain hemorrhages are basically blood leaking where it should not be, killing brain cells and often leaving the person partially paralyzed or deceased. These generally occur after a boxer has been hit hard enough in the head that his or her brain knocks against the skull. Loss of consciousness and concussions can also result in hard hits to the head. Some experts state that as long as boxers are allowed to hit above the neck, the sport will remain dangerous.

Brain swelling is also among the most common causes of boxing fatalities. In most cases, swelling of a body part is minor or at least easily treatable and rarely fatal. Swelling of the brain, however, is highly fatal because it is trapped by a thick skull. There is little room for a brain to swell, which puts pressure on it and sometimes stops blood from supplying the organ with oxygen. Without oxygen, the brain becomes damaged and eventually, if relief is not offered, the person dies.

It is also possible to die from a blow to the chest rather than the head. Commotio cordis happens when a person takes a powerful blow to the heart during a certain cycle of the heartbeat. Such an occurrence is very rare overall, but more often seen in contact sports like boxing. The rarity is due to the small window of opportunity given thanks to how fast the heart beats. Sometimes people who experience commotio cordis can be revived.

Experts have studied the difference between fatal and non-fatal boxing matches. They found that the risk of boxing fatalities seems to rise with the number of rounds in a match, number of blows thrown, and the force of the blows. Blows to the head are especially dangerous for boxers, so frequent punches in that area also greatly increases the risk of brain damage and death.

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