GLENN McCrory is campaigning to have dehydration – the ‘last taboo’ of boxing – tackled for the sake of the sport’s safety and even, perhaps, its survival.
The former world cruiserweight champion and long-time Sky Sports pundit has taken up a role as global ambassador for mineral and hydration supplement specialists Totum Sport.
And McCrory says the importance of hydration for boxers before, during and after a fight is something he will seek to draw attention to continually until the sport successfully deals with it.
The position at Totum Sport is an unsalaried one but McCrory is passionate about promoting the issue, which he says is arguably the single biggest health concern in boxing.
And when McCrory speaks, he’s speaking from experience, with the former champion saying dehydration damaged his career in the ring and could potentially have cost him his life.
He said: “When I defended my world title against Jeff Lampkin in 1990, I was so dehydrated making the weight that I knew I was going to lose the fight even before I got into the ring.
“I was so weak and exhausted that my biggest fear wasn’t losing the title, I feared for my life.
“I genuinely mean that.
“Nothing has changed since then in boxing though – the problem has never gone away.
“People have talked about Lee Selby struggling to make the weight being a factor in his defeat to Josh Warrington last month, and there’s Jamie McDonnell who lost his WBA bantamweight title in the first round after a lot of contoversy of his making the weight before supposedly piling the pounds on after the weigh-in.
“The consequences of dehydration can be much more severe though than just losing a fight – you’re playing Russian roulette with your health.
“It’s natural, fighters are always looking for an advantage in the sport and are prepared to go to great lengths to get it.
“But boxers are still routinely taking risks in terms of dehydration to get down to certain weights and we need to look at that, and also hydration levels generally in the run-up to fights and post-fight too.
“The obvious dangers of dehydration is the the elephant in the room when it comes to boxing – it is the last taboo – and the sport needs to have an honest conversation about it.
“There has been so much focus on safety in boxing in recent decades, and no end of examination of things like the size, weight, design and make-up of boxing gloves, but the subject of hydration seems to go under the radar.
“And yet in some ways it is THE most important safety issue of all – it has damaged careers and lives and although you might never completely phase it out of the sport, there are steps you can take to counteract it.
“The most important first step though, is to talk about it.
“If we don’t, then the problem is going to continue and every bad headline is going to damage the sport – and believe me, those bad headlines will keep on coming unless we do something about it.
“I think we have to tackle it for the sake of the reputation of the sport but more importantly still for the safety of fighters worldwide.
“Personally speaking, I’ve had a great career in boxing – first in the ring and then in the boxing media – but I’d love nothing more than if my biggest achievement was to help have the subject of hydration in the sport re-assessed.”
The 53-year-old plans to raise the subject at the World Boxing Council’s annual convention being held in Kiev this October.
He said: “I’m looking forward to that.
“I see this as a cause for improvement in the sport that everyone can unite behind and I’m sure that I’ll get a sympathetic listen because it’s something that the top people in boxing know remains an issue.
“I don’t care if it takes time for something significant to be done by the boxing authorities – I’m happy to dig in for the long haul.
“This is a cause I passionately believe in and I’m delighted that Totum Sport has given me a platform to raise its profile.”
John Kelleher, CEO at Totum Sport, said: “Our product has helped gold-medal winning athletes achieve peak hydration in their sport but with boxing there is an added safety element, not just enhanced performance.
“We’re delighted Glenn has agreed to be an ambassador for us and is campaigning for greater emphasis on hydration in the sport, which is perhaps the most critical health issue that boxing needs to address.”