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Cut Combat Sports for Youth, Says AMA

Cut Combat Sports for Youth, Says AMA

At the beginning of the 1982 film Rocky III, Sylvester Stallone (Rocky) steps into the ring with Hulk Hogan (Thunderlips). The boxing and wrestling champs mix it up for a charity match and the result is chaos -- and a good laugh, at the time.

Ten years later, in real life, they started bundling combat sports such as kickboxing, Muay Thai, Jiu Jitsu, other martial arts, plus wrestling and boxing. That’s not a laughing matter. Televised bouts, sponsored by groups such as the Ultimate Fighting Championship, bring bell-ringing (that’s concussions), blood, and serious injury to apparently unflinching fans.

Well, the AMA has had enough. Their new position statement opposes all forms of combat sports: “These sports are a public demonstration of interpersonal violence which is unique among sporting activities.” They also recommend prohibiting all combat sports for kids under 18. Now, the AMA we’re talking about is the Australian Medical Association (not our American Medical Association -- yet), but we think parents and kids everywhere should know how dangerous combat sports are and just say no.

Researchers from the Cleveland Clinic looked at data from the Professional Fighters Brain Health Study. They focused on 131 mixed martial arts fighters and 93 boxers, ages 18-44, who averaged 10 matches. They found those who had been in four fights were 8.8 percent slower in brain processing speed than those who had never fought. Overall, the more fights they had the smaller their brain volume in areas that control consciousness and voluntary movement.

Medically reviewed in February 2020.

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