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Neurology. 2004 May 11;62(9):1497-502.

A prospective controlled study of cognitive function during an amateur boxing tournament.

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University of Notre Dame Health Center, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA.



Few studies have reported acute postbout cognitive function in amateur boxers, and none have documented the effects of repeated boxing bouts within a short time frame.


To determine whether participation in a 7-day amateur boxing tournament is associated with acute deterioration in cognitive test performance.


A prospective study was done of 82 collegiate amateur boxers participating in a 7-day single elimination tournament and a group of 30 matched nonboxing control participants. No participants had a history of recent concussion or past history of brain injury. For boxers, cognitive assessment using a computerized test battery was performed before the tournament and within 2 hours of completing each bout. Tests of simple and choice reaction time, working memory, and learning were administered. Analysis of variance was conducted to compare the serial performance of control participants with that of boxers participating in one, two, and three bouts.


The 82 boxers fought 159 times. Cognitive testing was performed after 142 of these bouts. On simple reaction time, choice reaction time, and working memory tasks, the serial performance of boxers participating in three bouts (n = 22) was equivalent to that of boxers participating in two bouts (n = 22) and one bout (n = 32) and to nonboxing control participants (n = 30). An improvement in performance was observed on the learning task in boxers participating in three bouts. Boxers whose bout was stopped by the referee (n = 7) displayed significant slowing in simple and choice reaction time.


With the exception of boxers whose contest is stopped by the referee, amateur boxers participating in multiple bouts during a 7-day tournament display no evidence of cognitive dysfunction in the immediate postbout period.

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