The use of petroleum jelly, also known as Vaseline, is a cutman’s best friend before and during a fight. It’s got a couple of different uses.
Primarily, boxers have Vaseline applied to their common impact areas. The Vaseline is used to improve elasticity and reduce the risk of skin tearing, creating bleeds. The improved elasticity is also useful for the reduction of impact on glancing strikes, like throwaway jabs.
Before a fight, a cutman will apply Vaseline to a boxer to help prevent cuts in the first place. A cut prevented is a cut treated. In between rounds, a cutman will also use Vaseline to apply over cuts to stop them from getting worse as quickly.
Even with an open cut, applying Vaseline is done to try and keep the skin around the cut more malleable and elastic to try and reduce the increase of the cut opening per round.
Boxing has no formal limits on the application of petroleum jelly, but cutmen tend to restrict themselves to using a certain amount. The reason for this is that applying to much to a boxer’s face can create a couple of problems if any gets in a boxer’s eyes.
When Vaseline gets into a boxer’s eyes, vision becomes a problem reducing effectiveness with vision, and therefore their offensive and defensive game-plans.
Why Is Vaseline Scientifically Good At Improving Elasticity?
There isn’t much in the way of clinical research into the relationship between Vaseline and the improvement of skin elasticity, but the evidence comes from a lot of experience from cutmen all over the globe that rely on Vaseline’s petroleum Jelly.
Cutmen still rely on Vaseline to this day, and without it would have a much harder time keeping cuts from opening and what would be glancing shots hitting and ripping.
Vaseline applied to the face before a fight is a long standing tradition based on experience, and the world of boxing is yet to apply limits on the amount used.
Are There Any Alternatives To Vaseline?
Vaseline may be the best-known brand for quality petroleum jelly, but it’s definitely not the only brand. Vaseline is a brand, petroleum jelly is the substance used.
There’s no harm or shame in shopping around for cheaper jelly for your corner if it still works.
Has Vaseline Always Been Allowed In Boxing?
Yes and no, let us explain.
With amateurs it depends on the boards rules regarding the usage of Vaseline. Instead of assuming one way or the other, it’s best to ask your local boxing organisation that deals with rules and regulations for your area.
If you don’t you could come out with Vaseline on and be disqualified.
There’s no evidence that it’s ever been banned in the world of boxing, but at the amateur level it’s still best to check.
How Do You Become a Cutman?
You don’t become a cutman overnight. First, you’re a cornerman. You’re there to deal with the water-bottle, the spit bucket and the towel. The way to learn is to observe the cutman in your corner as he does his job. Ask him questions about what and how he does things, and with enough dues paid, soon you’ll get asked to cutman.
You’ll make mistakes when you’re starting out as a cutman. Talking about the theory of doing something and then doing it practically will throw you under intense pressure where you’re more likely to make mistakes anyway.
Just relax, as Kerry Kayes says in a BBC Interview, “You cannot flap. If you flap, the boxer flaps.” This couldn’t be more true. You’ve got to have a poker-face on when you could be looking at the nastiest cut you’ve ever seen.
As you progress as a cutman, and it may take a few one-off chances before you’re ready to be considered for more bouts as the actual cutman. The more mistakes you make early on, the more you have to assure yourself you won’t let those mistakes happen a second time.
Then when you’ve mastered conquering previous mistakes, you may be ready for a pro-camp. It’s all down to how good you are and whether or not you’ve had amateurs turn pro.
How Much Does A Cutman Earn?
A cutman is a vital part of a team behind any boxer, but the payment isn’t all that much based on what they do. They do their job for the love of their work and the sweet science. The average cutman takes home a flat fee, or at best around 2%.
This is great if you’re a cutman for a big boxing name that’s earning millions on a purse, but not so great if you’re cutman for a low-end professional boxer that will likely have you on a flat-fee where you’ll need another job or more fighters.
Being a cutman can be lucrative, especially if you have multiple professionals making appearances regularly, but without that happening there’s a chance that you won’t earn the money of your dreams as a cutman.
Instead of money, if you become a truly great cutman you’ll earn the respect of the boxing world, the trust of the boxers you patch up, and enough money to make it worth your while.
If you’re interested in working in a corner, buff up on everything boxing before going to a gym and asking to help out in the corner.
Just remember, if you’re ready to be a cutman, you’re ready to start at the bottom of the totem pole, armed with a towel, a bucket and a waterbottle. There you have a chance to lean.