Do Olympic Boxers Wear Headgear?

Do Olympic Boxers Wear Headgear

In boxing, female boxers still wear headgear in the Olympics, but as of 2013, men do not wear headgear during matches.

History of Olympic Boxing

Boxing was one of the original events at the Ancient Greek Olympics and, because of this, it was one of the early games in the Modern Olympic Games, premiering at the Olympics in 1904. Boxing was long considered a lower class sport and did not receive much attention at the Olympics, especially because it was one of the sports that quickly professionalized, rendering it pointless at the Olympic Games where only amateurs could fight.

Headgear at the Olympics

In 1984, during the Los Angeles Olympics, headgear was first introduced after a long standing fear of injury and death during boxing matches. Recently, in the professional boxing industry, a string of bad head injuries and one death had shaken the boxing world, turning it towards methods of safety. In order to protect the still amateur athletes, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to implement headgear which would not prevent all head trauma from blows to the head but would prevent lacerations and safeguard accidental headbutts, which are common in boxing. Headgear remained mandatory for all fighters during the Olympic Games until 2013.

Headgear Removal at the Olympics

In 2013 the IOC decided that Headgear was not solving the problems that boxing had and decided to remove them for male fighters starting during the 2016 Olympics. The problems that the IOC saw were twofold. Firstly, the headgear was actually providing a bigger target, incentivising fighters to go for the head more often and it was giving fighters a bigger sense of security, leading them to protecting their head more often and facing repeated blows to the head as well as trauma and brain damage. Headgear remains required for female fighters but male fighters now fight without headgear, much like in professional boxing.