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Sun, 21 Jan 2018

Northeast Today

The World of Modified Boxing

The World of Modified Boxing
December 11
15:38 2017

November Edition, Sports, Prarthana Hazarika

Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face – Mike Tyson

Introducing ModBox

Human contact games have always attracted human beings for long. Be it amateur boxing, professional boxing, UFC, or wrestling. As a sports journalist I still remember watching the kind of joy I had along with my fellow colleagues when our own Vijender Kumar won a Bronze at the Beijing Olympics defeating Carlos Gongora of Ecuador. The first ever boxing medal in Olympics fetched by Vijender bought us closer to the game and Vijender became an overnight star. Since then boxing has entered every nook and corner of the country. The country has raw talents which need to be nurtured so as to make them the best in the business. Again raises a lot of question when it comes to the injury caused during bouts.

I happened to have come across the entire new concept in boxing called MODBOX. What exactly is ModBox? Well the answer was Modified Boxing. Now why modified boxing and who will be benefited by this way boxing? My confusion was cleared by none other than former Australian national boxing coach Paul Perkins and his team. University of Canberra PhD candidate Paul Perkins is the driving force behind a modified version of the contact sport that’s taking parts of India by storm. Perkins recently spent seven weeks in Uttarakhand, training instructors and establishing programmes in schools and a rehabilitation clinic.

Named ModBox, the low-impact activity is designed to develop skill, speed and fitness. It also promotes social inclusion and development over competitiveness. It also appeals to females and families which mean any family of all age group can actively learn ModBox. This was found during a research done by the University of Canberra.

“ModBox is a sport-for-development initiative that uses a modified, low-risk form of boxing as a vehicle to assist with personal growth and development,” Perkins said, adding, “We’re using it to reach people from various backgrounds and to encourage community engagement.”

ModBox was developed over a period five years, during which extensive research and collaboration with would-be participants was undertaken to continually refine the concept. It’s an extension of ‘Box Tag’, another no-risk variation of boxing developed by Allan Hahn and a team of researchers from the University’s Research Institute for Sport and Exercise.

The rules are simple: athletes should have fun, no contact with the head or neck, and participants are encouraged to perform with high levels of passion and enthusiasm.

Specialised impact-absorbing gloves designed by University of Canberra alumnus and local industrial designer Geordie Ferguson are worn by participants to lessen the impact of punches.

Perkins said he hoped ModBox would change the perception that boxing is an exclusive, competitive and predominantly male sport.

“It’s possible for people from all age groups to take part in it, but we’re focusing on underprivileged youngsters and females,” he said.

“Every contest is completely self-officiated, meaning participants rate their own performance as well as each other’s. There is absolutely no emphasis on winning,” he further added.

The initiative, believed to be a world first, is being funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Boxing Australia, the University of Canberra, VTara Energy Group and various other stakeholders.

Perkins said he was overwhelmed by how well the programme had been received in India.

“We had a goal of training 10 coaches here, but we ended up getting 34,” he said, adding, “By the time I left, the programme was running in three schools and a rehabilitation clinic, and there was plenty of interest from other institutions.”

Modbox is Governed by the Following Simply Rules

• Athletes should have fun

• No impacts to the head or neck

• Wearing of specialised impact-absorbing gloves and protective vests is compulsory

• When performing it is expected that athletes will do so with high levels of passion and enthusiasm, while remaining true to the beliefs and values on which ModBox was founded

• All participants must comply with the essence of performance at all times

What was more interesting is that ModBox bought in people from different walks of life together. For example one of the community coaches was a domestic help, two of them were labourers but it was through this programme that these people came together tied up in a group and trained by none other than Paul Perkins.

Sports bring people from different walks of life closer to each other and this is what the motive of the ModBox team is. These community coaches are now self-sufficient and have gained self-confidence to teach ModBox. Coach Perkins told me that when he first met these people, they did not even know how to communicate but after the training they are a changed lot. This programme sets a perfect example how sports can bring people close to each other.

After the first batch of training is being completed more than 200 hundred girls have enrolled for the training from different schools in Uttarakhand. Interestingly Doon School have also extended support to this program. Funding for the next 12 months has been done so far.

Perkins and his team is satisfied with the entire program on community focused modified boxing and the best part is that the team will be using specially designed vests and gloves manufactured in India. The team is hoping for some more schools to join hands for this community program. Perkins plans to return to India later this year to continue growing the programme.

(The author is a senior sports journalist, presenter, and commentator with 17 years of experience)

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