Boxing’s comeback at least ensures we will see some good clean fights

Boxing’s comeback at least ensures we will see some good clean fights

Hubbard’s Cupboard
By Alan Hubbard

Football is alive and kicking again in the United Kingdom – at least in a fashion. Welcome to soccer’s sound of silence, apart from the low buzz of pre-recorded crowd murmuring. Next up for much-awaited public consumption is boxing with veteran Hall of Fame impresario Warren beating rival promoters to the punch by staging the first of a series of attractive British title fights in the BT studio at Olympic Park in London on Saturday, July 10.

That’s the good news, certainly for the fight-frustrated televiewers. But the bad news, for me anyway, is that I won’t be able to attend any of them, even as a long-standing boxing journalist.

Under the new regulations imposed because of the coronavirus pandemic, I am banned, as I am over 70 The same goes for any septuagenarian-plus .

This is one of the long list of stringent rules, drawn up by the British Boxing Board of Control to enable boxing’s fan-free comeback.

Here are some extracts from the vast instructions issued by the Board to ensure boxing’s health and safety in the current crisis.

Fighters will be expected to enter a bubble ahead of their bouts and, alongside officials, staff and media, will undergo testing for COVID-19.

All venues will be required to be cleaned to a medical standard in advance of the tournament.

Seven working days prior to any tournament the BBBofC should be made aware of names and exact numbers of attendees. 

The list will include all licence holders, Board officials, medical officers, paramedic ambulance crew, promoter’s team {to include venue staff and any security}, and TV personnel.

Whether any written media attend is at the discretion of the promoter, but, according to the Board’s general secretary Robert Smith, numbers must be restricted to an absolute minimum. 

However he adds: “Things seem to be changing by the day.”

Those licence holders who will not be allowed to attend include people 70 years or older, regardless of medical conditions,  people with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma, people with serious heart conditions, people who are immune compromised, people with chronic neurological conditions, people who are seriously overweight, people with diabetes, people with chronic kidney disease or undergoing dialysis, people with liver disease and those who are pregnant. As Frank points out he is three years under the age limit – and definitely not pregnant!

Other criteria includes any persons that have tested positive for COVID-19 within the previous 14 days, any persons who have had a fever, cough or any other cold or flu-like symptoms within the last 14 days, any persons self-isolating for 14 days as a result of a household member being COVID-19 positive or symptomatic, any persons returning from abroad within the last 14 days and/or overseas boxers.

Any boxer who falls into any of the above categories will not be permitted to box.

There will be a maximum of five contests {to be reviewed by the Board at a later stage}.

Pre-contest medicals will be conducted on the afternoon of the tournament and not the day before.

COVID-19 tests must be undertaken by all boxers, referees, trainers and seconds who will be required to self-isolate in a hotel and await the test result.

The officials must continue to self-isolate in a hotel until the tournament.

It is essential that once an individual has undertaken their COVID-19 test that they go directly to their hotel room. They should remain there, alone, until they receive notification of their COVID-19 test result.

Any person that produces a positive test for active COVID-19 infection will not be permitted to take any further part in the tournament.

Boxers, trainers and seconds will be transported to the venue wearing personal protective masks, eye protection and latex free disposable gloves.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), eye protection and gloves, for trainers and seconds must remain in place at all times during the tournament.

The referee, judges and timekeeper must wear PPE, mask, eye protection and gloves, at all times throughout the tournament.

Upon arrival at the venue and prior to entering the arena all attendees will have their temperature taken and will be asked COVID-19 screening questions.

In accordance with Government guidance the BBBofC has appointed a COVID-19 officer. 

The BBBofC recommend that each promoter appoints a named COVID-19 medical officer to ensure that risk assessments take place for non BBBofC licence holders attending the tournament. This individual will take no part in the BBBofC medical procedures during the tournament.

Dressing rooms must have enough space to maintain social distancing, or individual rooms for each boxer.

The television commentary area must have enough space for social distancing.

Allowed into the ring prior to and after the contest are the boxers, one trainer, referee and medical officers.

No ring card girls are allowed into the ring and the Master of Ceremony is not permitted into the ring.

And no spectators of course, though maybe promoters might like to follow football an pre-record some crowd noise. The game won’t sound the same without exhortations of “C’mon my son”or ”Mind ‘is ‘ead, ref!” to accompany the thud of leather on flesh.

All BBBofC personnel must wear full length trousers and a short sleeve polo shirt to ensure bare arms below the elbows, with no jackets or ties allowed.

There must be two separate designated safe areas for donning and doffing of PPE. One area will be for donning and a separate area for doffing. 

These areas will require handwashing facilities, touch free paper towel dispensers {not hot air hand dryers}, hand sanitiser, disposable latex free gloves, universal wipes and foot pedal operated clinical waste bins.

Hand sanitiser facilities must be available and clearly identifiable at ringside. They should also be clearly identified on entry to dressing rooms.

Licence holders in the corners must not share the boxers water bottle or towel.

Boxers are restricted to two corner personnel and one house second supplied by the promoter.

Shower facilities with soap and towels must be available at the venue for all boxers, licence holders, referees, judges and medical officers to use.

All medical officers at ringside will be in full PPE {FFP3 mask, fluid repellent overall suits, latex free disposable gloves, and full-face visor} in the event of a collapsed boxer. 

The promoter must hire an ambulance with paramedic support that is undertaking regular COVID-19 transfers.

Ring canvas, steps to ring, ropes and corners to be cleaned to medical standards in between each contest.

There must be sufficient time {a minimum of 20 minutes} between contests to allow cleaning of the ring area and for any person to change their PPE in a safe and unrushed manner.

To ensure good infection control practices, following each contest the referee must go to the doffing area and remove their PPE. They must then shower and change into a fresh uniform. New PPE must then be donned before the next contest.

The compulsory spittoon bucket must be covered with a lid during each round. During the round the external aspect of the spittoon bucket must be cleaned with bleach and changed. Spittoon buckets must be changed after each contest.

The individual who is cleaning the spittoon buckets must wear fluid resistant surgical face masks – Type IIR certified, eye protection {eye shield, goggles or visor} and a long sleeve disposable fluid repellent gown.

All PPE used at the event is regarded as clinical waste and must be disposed of in accordance with clinical waste guidance, this includes their boxing gloves and hand wraps.

Phew! What a palaver! And a costly one at that. The bill forall these ‘elf’’n’safety’ procedures before the ref can order ‘Box On’ has to be footed by promoters and it runs into tens of tjhousands. And that is beforer the fighters are paid.

At least it should ensure good clean {very clean} fights!

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