The Athletes Voice Committee (AVC), a group of fighters and other professionals within combat sports, have announced a proposal calling for clear warnings about the efficacy and safety limitations of certain training equipment to be added to product labels.

The committee has put forth what it calls a “common sense request” that manufacturers of combat sports gear such as headgear, gloves and shinguards include blunt warning labels with their products, which would better inform athletes of the potential dangers of training.

Canadian combat sports legal expert Erik Magraken of Combat Sports Law announced the committee’s initiative publicly for the first time Wednesday. Magraken is among the committee’s Members at Large alongside Anthony Cummings, Carla Duran, Nick Meeker and Jack Reiss.

The AVC was formed in 2023 by the Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports in an effort to get athletes more involved in the regulatory process. The group of fighter representatives on the AVC include Sarah Kaufman, Din Thomas, Renato Sobral, Wayne McCullough, Elena Reid and former UFC welterweight champion Carlos Newton.

Magraken pointed out on his website that “gloves protect an athlete’s hands, not their opponent’s brains,” and that according to the Association of Ringside Physicians “headguards should not be relied upon to reduce the risk of concussion or other traumatic brain injury. They have not been shown to prevent these types of injuries in combat sports or other sports.”

The AVC’s statement received the public endorsement of Dr. Charles Bernick, Senior Director, Cognitive Disorders at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. 

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Bernick was the lead physician of the Cleveland Clinic’s Professional Athletes Brain Health Study (PABHS) and wrote in his letter of support: “While one might think that fighters are aware of the risks of participating in their sport, the results of the study suggest otherwise. The findings revealed significant gaps in fighters’ understanding of concussion symptoms and neurological consequences of exposure to head impacts (Bennett et al. Phys Sportsmed. 2019).

“Education is clearly the first step to empower fighters to make appropriate decisions for their training and careers. I strongly endorse the recommendation by AVC to require as part of licensing a health and safety education module for both the fighters and their trainers. In addition, information about concussions should be labeled on common equipment used in combat sports such as gloves and headgear. We have found that participants in the PABHS do have an interest in learning more about concussions and ways to train more safely but do not know where and how to access this information. The simple measures put forth by the AVC would help solve this problem.”





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