Norwegian study proves boxing promotes violence.

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Weighty matters of this sort, when applied to the sweet science, often turn up some screwy answers. Psychology Today, for example, recently ran an editorial by Lauren Aaronson titled Boys Who Box. (Do combative sports breed combative kids? Or is it the other way around?).

Aaronson did her homework and unearthed a Norwegian study from the University of Bergen focusing on the connection between violent behavior and violent sports. For two years university researchers followed, questioned, filmed and studied 500 preteen boys who engaged in boxing, weightlifting, karate, wrestling, judo, etc.

The results of the study reveal that the majority of these boys, once they embraced the martial arts, began exhibiting sure signs of anti-social behavior: skipping school, shoplifting, talking back, spitting, picking fights.

One of the researchers, Inger Endresen, said that compared with preteen boys who were couch potatoes or with those who just played soccer, the boys who boxed, kicked, tripped and threw opponents of equal height and weight were five times more likely to be socially maladjusted than normal kids.

Bullying experts observed boys both before and after they took up power sports, Aaronson writes, so it became clear that aggressiveness followed sports, instead of the other way around.

That Norwegian study is a slap in the face of common wisdom. In the States, the so-called power sports give focus, purpose, meaning, dignity to lives that are often economically and socially malnourished. That depth of privation just isn’t happening in Norway. Maybe it’s true as the study suggests that letting preteens fight turns them into Norwegian baby Bugsy Siegels, but here in the US, at least according to the results of the last study we conducted, it appears boxing still helps more boys than it hurts.