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Saurabh Duggal, Hindustan Times
Chandigarh, December 11, 2012
Come 2013 and amateur boxing will sport a brand new look. The sport will get more lethal with AIBA, the world body, deciding to do away with headgear from the amateur circuit as well. The first tournament under the new format, the World Championship at Kazakhstan, will see the most visible difference between professional and amateur boxing disappear.

Under the new rules, amateur boxers in the senior section will compete without headgear in all three AIBA ventures --- the World Series of Boxing (WSB), AIBA professional boxing (APB) and AIBA amateur boxing. But in the boys' age-group section and women's amateur boxing, headgear will continue to be mandatory.

The world body has changed the norms in order to encourage more boxers to join the WSB and APB, as many amateurs stay away because of the headgear issue.

"Without headgear, the sport will become more attractive but the risk of injuries will also increase. With it (the headgear), boxers are not bothered about side blows, but now they have to guard against that too," said Olympic bronze medallist Vijender Singh.

"Boxers should now be mentally prepared to cope with more injuries," said Olympian Akhil Kumar, adding, "Last year, during a WSB bout, Jitender got 15 stitches on the head. (But) at the end of the day, we are boxers and we have to faces punches. So, it's not going to affect us much."

"We have already told the boxers in the camp that they can train without headgear. Gradually, we will encourage them to remove the headgear in training,” said chief coach GS Sandhu.

“The boxers will have to work more on their defence. With headgear on, boxers were not overly concerned about blows on the forehead. But now, they'll have to be careful.”