In a new report released today (Wednesday 5 September 2007) the BMA extends its call for a complete ban on amateur and professional boxing to include mixed martial arts (MMA) competitions.
The report comes ahead of an ultimate fighting event at the O2 arena in London on Saturday 8 September. MMA includes ultimate fighting and cage fighting. It takes boxing one step further because of its 'no holds barred' approach. The BMA's Head of Ethics and Science, Dr Vivienne Nathanson, explains why the Association is extending its anti-boxing campaign to include MMA.
"Ultimate fighting can be extremely brutal and has been described as 'human cockfighting'. It can cause traumatic brain injury, joint injuries and fractures.
"This kind of competition hardly constitutes a sport - the days of gladiator fights are over and we should not be looking to resurrect them. As doctors we cannot stand by while violent fighting tournaments are allowed to take place. Large amounts of money can be earned by participants, promoters and others linked to ultimate fighting but no amount of money can compensate for permanent brain damage and premature death. As a civilised society we should be campaigning to outlaw these activities."
The BMA has campaigned for a ban on boxing since 1982. Countries where professional boxing is banned include Norway and Iceland. In 2006 Sweden ended its 36-year ban on professional boxing allowing permission for individual events, although fully-fledged professional boxing is still banned.
Boxing causes brain damage, acute brain haemorrhage and eye, ear and nose damage. There is evidence that boxing not only causes acute brain injury but also chronic brain damage, which is sustained cumulatively in those who survive a career in boxing. It may take many years before boxers and ex-boxers find out they are suffering from brain damage.
In 2005 the World Medical Association [WMA] stated that "Boxing is a dangerous sport. Unlike most other sports, its basic intent is to produce bodily harm in the opponent. Boxing can result in death and produce an alarming incidence of chronic brain injury. For this reason, the WMA recommends that boxing be banned."