Boxers rely on their muscles and fists to get their job done, but they also rely on members of their support team, known as cornermen, who give them the help and advice they need before, during and after a bout. Amateur boxers typically have two people in their corner, while professional boxers may have three. This usually consists of a trainer or coach and a person who supplies medical attention if needed. These cornermen never come to a boxing match empty-handed. They have a set of tools that they utilize throughout the match.
Petroleum jelly is a very common tool that cornermen use for a variety of purposes. To lessen the impact of the opposing boxer’s punch, the cornermen smears the petroleum jelly on the nose, forehead, cheekbones and other protruding areas of the boxer’s face. The slick nature of the jelly allows the punches to slide off, making them less likely to inflict major damage to the skin or bones. It turns a hard punch into more of a glancing blow, although it certainly does not take the sting out of a punch. The cut man also uses petroleum jelly to help close open cuts or to stop nosebleeds.
Getting punched in the face repeatedly will cause swelling. Cornermen routinely use an ice pack applied directly to the swollen area at the end of a bout or between rounds to keep the swelling down. Ice is also used on the back of the neck between rounds for a quick cool-down for the fighter. In professional boxing, some cornermen opt for a device called an enswell. This is a flat metal object with a handle that is kept very cold at ringside. The flat, cold metal is pressed against the skin to reduce swelling instead of using ice.
Between rounds, the cornermen will hand the boxer water so he can take small sips or rinse his mouth out and spit to avoid the cottonmouth feeling. Boxers lose a lot of fluids in a match and can easily get dehydrated, especially in a long bout. Water bottles are also used as a method of quickly cooling down the boxer. Cornermen sometimes pour water over the fighter’s head to keep him cool between rounds.
A towel is a tool all boxers need. Some trainers will drape the towel over the boxer’s head between rounds as a way to retain heat and keep muscles loose. More frequently the towel is used to wipe away excess sweat or blood on the boxer’s body or face. Towels are also used as a way to inform the referee that the fighter’s corner wishes to stop the fight. They throw a towel into the ring to get the attention of the referee to let him know to stop the fight. This can happen when the fighter doesn’t want to quit, but the cornermen realize there is a risk the fighter will get seriously hurt otherwise.
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