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19th Aug 2019

Top Rank commentator Crystina Poncher on the risks of getting in the ring

Wayne Farry

Boxing is a dangerous sport

With a history – both distant and recent – marked with the life-changing injuries and tragic deaths of competitors, boxers are aware of the dangers of getting into the ring.

The death of Russian boxer Maxim Dadashev in July, followed by that of Argentine Hugo Alfredo “Dinamita” Santillan just days later, has pushed the conversation surrounding fighter safety into the mainstream boxing conversation once again.

It was one of the main topics discussed on this week’s episode of TKO as Chris Lloyd spoke to Top Rank boxing commentator Crystina Poncher about a number of key issues in the sport today.

“The fact that these fighters literally put their life on the line every time they fight… It’s not a joke. It’s not a game. After what we saw [with Maxim Dadashev] two weeks ago, that has never been more poignant,” said Poncher.

“I’ve never experienced something like that, or called a fight where that was the result. And as much as it would turn a lot of people away from the sport, I know that the fighters understand the responsibility, and I think that we as broadcasters, and everybody involved, have to really appreciate and respect what these athletes do, and what they put on the line, and I think that how much is on the line each and every time is something that attracted me to the sport as well.”

During the conversation, Lloyd recalled a chat with Carl Frampton on a previous episode of TKO, in which the Belfast fighter said that he doesn’t think about the risks involved, because “if you did, you wouldn’t be able to do what you do”.

“Part of being a fighter is that you have that part of your brain that stops the rest of us from jumping off the cliff, from doing all those things that are inherently, pull us away from what our urges are, to keep ourselves safe, they almost don’t have that switch. And so they’re able to do things that ordinary people just can’t do,” Lloyd said.

Poncher continued: “That’s why they’re crazy! No, I’m joking. No I mean, there’s this switch, right? Where they have to be able to block that out, and I don’t remember who said it, I read it in an article, but it was like, ‘We know what we sign up for. We know what’s at risk, and we accept that. But not our family and our kids, they don’t’.

“They don’t necessarily accept it, kids especially. They don’t know what all is at stake, and what all is at risk. That’s why any time these fighters get in the ring, it’s ‘Oh, he’s fighting a bum’. Okay, well that bum’s getting ready to risk his life for your entertainment and to provide for his family. This is his job.”