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Autonomy, Paternalism and the Ethics of Boxing: A Qualitative Investigation into the Perceptions and Experiences of Professional and Semi-Professional Boxers, Coaches and Referees

Barker, Max Henry (2020) Autonomy, Paternalism and the Ethics of Boxing: A Qualitative Investigation into the Perceptions and Experiences of Professional and Semi-Professional Boxers, Coaches and Referees. Masters thesis, York St John University.

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BARKER MAX FINAL THESIS.pdf - Published Version
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Abstract

There are longstanding debates regarding issues of ethics and morality in boxing. The most common traditional approach to examining such issues amongst academics has involved the ethical theories of paternalism and autonomy. Paternalistic researchers have often opposed boxing due to its inherently ‘violent’ and ‘dangerous’ nature. However, those advocating participant autonomy have often sought to defend the free choice of those who take part, as well as supporting the potentially beneficial mental and physical health benefits that boxing can offer. This thesis critically analyses the theories of paternalism and autonomy in order to discuss and analyse their application to boxing, whilst also generating data surrounding key ethical issues within this often-controversial sport. Data were sourced from semi-professional and professional boxers, coaches and referees through the use of semi-structured interviews. The majority of boxers and coaches claimed that boxing was not a violent sport and it provided an outlet for them to release any aggression in a controlled environment. Boxing coaches and a referee were aware of their responsibilities to maintain the boxers’ safety during a bout, however there was a slight confusion over who potentially had the ultimate responsibility. It was evident that boxing had made a positive impact on many participants. However, the results also show a clear lack of formal education amongst boxers and some coaches regarding the risks and possible dangers to participation in boxing. A soft-paternalistic approach to issues of ethics and education in boxing is therefore advocated. Providing that all participants are fully educated on elements of risk, they should be allowed to make an informed decision as to whether they want to pursue the sport of boxing. This approach would only restrict participant autonomy until participants had received formal training or education and, once complete, their personal autonomy would remain intact.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Status: Published
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure > GV557 Sports
School/Department: School of Science, Technology and Health
URI: http://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/5045

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