TO take part in a professional boxing match you have to be medically examined to ensure you are fit to box. It seems that if you have the standard two legs, two arms, a trunk and a head, you are at least halfway there under certain governing bodies. If you are not blind and don’t have a physical disability or any disease then the chances are you will qualify as fit to box. After some recent fights, I wonder whether there should be another factor taken into account: the issue of obesity.
Take the cases of heavyweights Dennis Lewandowski and Chauncy Welliver.
German Lewandowski is 26 years old, stands 6ft 2ins and for his last fight – losing every round of 10 to a faded Marco Huck – he weighed 335lbs which represented a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 42.4. Prior to losing to Huck, he weighed in at 352lbs before being stopped in three rounds by Fabio Wardley in Nottingham last year.
Welliver, 37, is also 6ft 2ins and weighed 378lbs for his last fight. For that fourth round stoppage loss to Cassius Chaney, the veteran had a BMI of 48.5.
It should raise some worthwhile questions. On the one hand, we can rightly argue that both boxers have proved they’re ‘fit’ to box. Lewandowski’s record reads 13-5 (6) and he’s fought at a decent standard and the loss to Wardley is the only time he’s been stopped. Welliver’s record is 57-13-5 (23) and he has fought at a higher level overall. There is no doubt that both men are capable boxers.
However, both have put on huge amounts of weight in recent years which scream of ill-discipline. Lewandowski weighed 248lbs as recently as 2016 whereas Welliver, at a peak that saw him on the fringes of world ratings eight years ago, has been as light as 236lbs.
For further context, the BMI scale shows that anything over a BMI of 30 is into the red zone of obesity. Over 40 and we’re into morbidly obese territory and therefore dangerously unfit.
If a doctor examined Welliver outside of the context of boxing he would never say that a man who was more than twice the upper range of fitness for his size (which would be 184lbs) was “fit”. Exactly the same for Lewandowski.
So why, then, are they fit to box?