Joe Clifford discusses the impact of cutmen at the Rio Olympics

On October 9 the IMMAF International Cutman Certification Course Grade C will be on offer in Manchester, UK, in partnership with accredited cutman Joe Clifford. The one day course is designed as an educational resource promoting athlete safety and duty of care to coaches working in MMA clubs and anyone working closely with MMA fighters and participants in training or competition. The Level C course also serves as an introductory prerequisite to Level B licensing under IMMAF. Internationally experienced cutman Joe Clifford saw a lifetime of dedication acknowledged in 2016 when he became of fixture of the AIBA International Boxing Association medical staff at the Rio Olympics. Ahead of his upcoming course date on October 9, Joe discussed the impact of introducing a cut team for the first time to Olympic amateur boxing. The development was introduced following the decision to remove the use of headgear for elite male boxers which had been used at previous Olympic Games. Research by the British Journal of Sports Medicine indicated that removing headgear would reduce the risk of concussion. However, the removal of headgear would in turn increase the risk of superficial damage and lacerations, thus warranting the presence of a cut team.  “To stand in the Olympic stadium for the opening ceremony was one of the proudest and emotional days of my life,” Joe told “A celebration of sport at the biggest athletic event on the calendar cannot be described by words. To be the first cutmen ever used at the Olympics was absolutely awesome.

“The reasons were primarily for lacerations. Since the removal of the headgear, primarily because concussion rates were claimed to be higher with headgear on, the laceration rate skyrocketed.”

In addition, the introduction of rule 16.2.3 to the AIBA Technical Rules allowed use of medical substances which for proper and safe use would require the presence of accredited medical professionals, such as Joe.

“One of the reasons for cutmen in elite level AOB amateur boxing was the introduction of rule 16.2.3 which allowed a 3rd man, or extra second, to use hemostatic agents such as adrenaline 1:1000, thrombin, microfibullar collagen, etc. Basically this opened the door for cutmen on international amateur boxing events.”

Joe added that working as part of a diverse team of medical experts is a highly beneficial experience for building bridges and gaining further knowledge and trust.

“It was a positive to work alongside of doctors under supervision and alongside healthcare practitioners. This is a bridge which is necessary to cross for all cutmen. Cutmen are used to working longer shifts at MMA events, sometimes up to 20 fights and sometimes longer at international events, that’s why team work at events is essential. Generally, at the Olympics their was a rotation of two cutmen working each group of bouts, but staying tuned in and focused is an instinct that comes with experience; it’s important to have the maturity to ask for a break if needed, or learning to utilise the breaks to relax for a moment and stretch your legs.”

For more information or to sign up for the IMMAF International Cutman Certification Course Grade C, visit

By lead writer and website manager, Jorden Curran

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