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As the first semi-finalists warmed up for Sunday’s crucial World Boxing Championship matches, AIBA President Dr Ching-Kuo Wu announced the details of HeadsUp!, a new initiative committed to the health, education and careers of its boxers.

“It is essential that AIBA fulfils its duty to provide a strong, secure framework within which boxers can develop and excel from grassroots to pro competition,” said Dr Wu. “HeadsUp! will now be adopted by the world’s boxing federations to help all of our athletes enjoy stable futures in their sport.”

With health as its primary focus, AIBA Medical Commission has been working behind the scenes at boxing competitions throughout 2015, concluding with a series of HeadsUp! workshops in Doha with the referees and coaches of the World Championships.

The removal of headguards in men’s competitions came in the light of the commission’s study of 11,000 AIBA bouts around the world. The Almaty 2013 World Championships, the first without headguards for 30 years, showed a decrease in the number of concussions compared to the Baku competition in 2011.

To maintain the improvements, bringing a change in training methods to literally keep boxers’ heads raised during bouts was imperative. “Since being introduced in 1984, headguards have brought a psychological as well as physical cushion that has led to a passive style of boxing,” says Dr Khadri of the AIBA Medical Commission. “We need to teach the correct way to box with a better stance – heads up – and that requires ongoing education of boxers and referees.”

The HeadsUp! charter will be shared with all 196 national federations around the world, and the President of the Asian Boxing Confederation, Mr. Serik Konakbayev, became the first to sign during his visit to the Doha World Championships.

“As President of the ASBC I am very proud that we are the first AIBA confederation to sign this important charter, and I would like to congratulate the President of the Qatar Boxing Federation, Mr Yousef Ali Al Kazim, on being the first Asian federation to sign its support of this important initiative for the future of boxing and the health of boxers,” said Mr Konakbayev.