Boxers need clinical psychologists

Shelly Guni

In order to show that their health is a priority, boxers undergo a battery of tests for hepatitis B, HIV/Aids, and blood pressure. However, more needs to be done.

The boxing board needs to consider working out a contract with clinical psychologists, whose responsibility it is to evaluate, identify, and treat mental, emotional, and behavioural issues.

Most fighters struggle with a variety of psychological issues, which has an impact on how well they perform in battle. Since fight fans are unaware of this, they criticize fighters without hesitation.

Those boxers’ personal lives get affected and they go through a lot of stress. Some are breadwinners and must be in gyms every day. That alone can be very expensive. Eating properly and being healthy is another factor that contributes to mental health.

This is besides the punishment they sustain in the ring. It all begins from the gym when preparing for a fight. Most have to first deal with weight issues while being pummelled during sparring sessions. That is not good for the body.

This is what boxers go through. Some see excessive drinking of alcohol as a way out while others do drugs. They cannot deal with these demons on their own.

A positive response on this matter by the Boxing Board will put Zimbabwe on the global map because most governing boxing bodies ignore this.  

Fighters are not fighting machines but human beings who must be treated as such. Fans clap hands in appreciation of what they see inside the ring yet a lot goes on behind closed doors when that boxer is all by themselves.

It is even worse with champions losing their titles. Even fighters who lose their fights consecutively are affected. Clinical psychology will be good for fighters, and it will boost their confidence to come back stronger.

Review and Mail caught up with one boxer who opened up on his mental issues.

The young boxer, who requested anonymity said after suffering a series of defeats in the ring, he felt he wasn’t good enough and started taking drugs to the extent of being an addict.

He said the amount of hard work he was putting seemed to not give him the great results he wanted.

“At one point I wanted to end my life because of the things that were happening. I had become a drug addict and I constantly got thoughts that I was just a failure and nothing will come out of me.

“I was working so hard to see my boxing career succeed but no matter how I tried, I still couldn’t get it. It pained me the most because I had invested a lot in the career and seeing other boxers getting it piled a lot of pressure on me.

“The other thing that also affected me was the case that I was not getting any support from my family and it made everything worse.”

The boxer said he one day decided to open up to someone who later helped him.

“I was lucky to meet this man who then helped me through. He paid for my sessions with a certain psychologist.

“After that I then decided that it was important to manage my health and wellbeing. And decided to take some time off to focus on becoming a stronger version of myself.

“I still struggled everyday with anxiety and depression at times because of my anxiety. I know I look like someone who is happy all the time but inside I hurt at times struggling just to function.”

He said for many athletes, mental health issues were just as real as they seemed, adding that opening up to mates could sometimes backfire and make things worse.

The boxer said that now he was back in the ring and he had managed to win two crucial fights and was aiming for more and bigger international titles.

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