Life expectancy of white and non-white elite heavyweight boxers

Han, T. S., Gabe, J., Sharma, P. and Lean, M. E.J. (2020) Life expectancy of white and non-white elite heavyweight boxers. Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities, 7, pp. 281-289. (doi: 10.1007/s40615-019-00656-y) (PMID:31797308) (PMCID:PMC7064515)

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Background: In post-industrial countries, ethnic minorities suffer poorer health and premature deaths. The present study examined ethnic differences in life expectancy and related features among elite heavyweight boxers. Methods: Dates of birth and death, anthropometry, and championship years were gathered from media archives for champions and challengers (never been a champion) between years 1889 and 2019. Cox regression adjusted for age at contest, nationality, BMI, champion/challenger status, and number of contests was used to assess survival. Results: All 237 boxers, 83 champions (37.3% whites) and 154 challengers (61.0% whites), who contested for heavyweight championships were identified. By 2019, 110 (75 whites, 34 non-whites) were known to have died. Non-white boxers died at an earlier age than whites boxers (mean ± SD = 59.8 ± 14.2 years versus 67.3 ± 16.4 years, p = 0.018) and had shorter survival: HR = 2.13 (95% CI = 1.4–3.3). Among non-white boxers, deaths were higher from neurological disorders: OR = 8.2 (95% CI = 1.3–13.5) and accidents: OR = 15.1 (95% CI = 2.3–98.2), while death from natural causes was lower: OR = 0.2 (95% CI = 0.03–0.8). After boxing careers, fewer non-white boxers had non-manual jobs (34.4% versus 71.8%) than manual (34.4% versus 19.7%) or were unemployed (28.1% versus 2.8%). Reported substance abuse was similar across ethnicity (8.0% versus 8.8%) but conviction rates were higher among non-white boxers (17.6%) than white (1.3%). Conclusions: Compared with white boxers, non-white boxers tend to die younger with excess neurological and accidental deaths, and they have lower social positions in later life. Sporting authorities should reappraise the wisdom of permitting head injuries in sport and monitor and support the health and wellbeing of sports men and women after retirement.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Lean, Professor Michael
Authors: Han, T. S., Gabe, J., Sharma, P., and Lean, M. E.J.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Medicine, Dentistry & Nursing
Journal Name:Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities
ISSN (Online):2196-8837
Published Online:03 December 2019
Copyright Holders:Copyright © The Authors 2019
First Published:First published in Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities 7:281-289
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons license

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