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George Groves opposes headgear ban in amateur boxing

George Groves thinks it's too risky for amateur fighters to compete without headgear. Is he right?

Scott Heavey
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Some fight fans around the world are looking forward to amateur boxing -- specifically Olympic boxing -- moving away from the fighters using headgear, believing it will present a truer representation of the sport. That may be true, but top super middleweight contender George Groves believes the ban is too dangerous.

Groves had this to say about the ban, which will be in effect for the ABA Championships this year:

"I get paid to get hit in the head. These kids don't. They need the protection headguards give at this stage of their careers, just as I did when I boxed as an amateur. I never had a cut or serious head injury. Removing them is highly dangerous. Especially at a time when several sports, not only boxing, are increasingly concerned about brain damage. It is too great a risk."

It's a fair argument, no doubt. Groves has done both, and he's saying that young, unpaid fighters need the protection, and I think you have to respect that stance. It does make sense, too. Boxing is a dangerous sport either way, and one of the ways we can sort of defend the danger in the pro game is by noting that these guys are adults who are aware of the dangers, made their own decision, and are doing a job, same as anyone but with unique risks.

But does that really apply to amateur boxers, who aren't making paydays to put their health on the line? And while this may make amateur boxing more resemble the more popular pro game, could this even potentially lead to a further decline in amateur boxing, if less fighters (or the parents of aspiring youth boxers) are willing to get involved in the sport given the increasing danger?

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