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Youth Boxing Event Features Nine-Year-Olds in West Virginia: A Controversial Take on Youth Sport

A controversial development in the world of youth sports is taking place in West Virginia, as Chill Boxing, a local boxing promoter, plans an event featuring children's boxing. Titled the "Boone County Showdown," the event will take place in Madison, WV, with a headline match between nine-year-old boxers Mason “The Viper” Maynard of Ashland, KY, and Landon “Pitbull” Vandyke of Richlands, VA, both of whom weigh no more than 68 pounds.

Controversial Promotional Poster for the Boone County Brawl, featuring 9-year old competitors Mason Maynard & Landon Vandyke
Controversial Promotional Poster for the Boone County Brawl, featuring 9-year old competitors Mason Maynard & Landon Vandyke

Chill Boxing Commends the Fearless Young Fighters


The event was publicized on Chill Boxing's Facebook page, celebrating the upcoming debut of these young boxers.

“Our BOUT ANNOUNCEMENT reveals two brave nine-year-olds who are venturing into the ring for their debut match, with a 68lb weight limit. Mason 'The Viper' Maynard, hailing from Ashland, KY, trains under Charlie Hanshaw, while Landon 'Pitbull' Vandyke, tutored by Coy Witt, is from Richlands, VA. We salute the young warriors who dare to step into the ring, as these bouts often promise thrilling action. Tickets for the Boone County Showdown are available at chillboxing.com. Watch the event live at combatsportsnow.com. This event is regulated by USA Boxing."

Claims of Child Boxing Safety over Football and Wrestling

The Facebook announcement sparked a discussion, with several commenters highlighting the safety record of amateur and youth boxing compared to other contact sports like football and wrestling.

“Regarding boxing safety, the focus here is on the competitive aspect, as injuries in recreational boxing are usually minor and mostly limited to the hand or wrist. Athletes and their parents need to understand that Amateur boxing is not only heavily regulated, but according to ROSPA [Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents] and the NSC [National Safety Council], it is the safest contact sport. It results in fewer injuries compared to high school football, wrestling, soccer, hockey, rugby etc. Amateur boxing is the 75th least dangerous sport out of 100 in ROSPA's ranking and according to a 1996 NSC report, it is the 23rd on its list of injury-causing sports. ROSPA and the NSC even rank amateur boxing safer than gymnastics, in-line skating, equestrian sports, motorcycle racing, scuba diving, sky-diving, and mountaineering."

Pediatricians Disagree on Safety Claims

However, the Canadian Pediatric Society presents a contrasting viewpoint.

"We endorse active participation in sport and recreational activities by children and adolescents, but we don't consider boxing a safe choice. We suggest young individuals engage in sports where the primary aim is not intentional head blows. Amateur boxers are at severe risk of facial and brain injuries, including concussions. Children's brains are more susceptible to concussions, and their recovery period is longer than adults'. Even though amateur boxers use protective gear, no evidence suggests that head guards reduce concussion incidences. While all sports pose some injury risks, boxing is particularly dangerous because athletes get points for intentional, powerful hits to their opponent's head. Boxing Canada and USA Boxing do not track the number of participants or injury rates. However, Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program data show that, among all combat sports, boxing led to the most hospital admissions between 1990 and 2007. Of those admissions, 58 per cent were for facial fractures, and 25 per cent were for closed head injuries like concussions. The CPS and AAP strongly recommend health professionals dissuade their patients from participating in boxing, instead guiding them towards safer alternatives like swimming, tennis, basketball, and volleyball."

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