A cutman is a person responsible for preventing and treating physical damage to a fighter during the breaks between rounds of a full contact match such as a boxing, kickboxing or a mixed martial arts bout. Cutmen typically handle swelling, nosebleeds and lacerations (commonly called cuts). The rules of full contact sports stipulate that these injuries can be a cause for premature match stoppage, counting as a loss to the injured fighter. The cutman is therefore essential to the fighter, and can be a decisive factor in the outcome of the match.

The compensation for cutmen varies, generally staying within 1-3% of fighter's prize money.[1] For many fighters on a low budget, the cutman duties are performed by their cornerman. While most athletic commissions require cutmen to be licensed, there is usually no formal training or certification required. Most cutmen learn their trade through apprenticeship and self-education.

Unlike boxing, cutmen for mixed martial arts events are generally provided by the promotion, rather than the fighter's corner. This is to prevent allegations of "greasing" (applying petroleum jelly to areas other than the forehead, which provides an unfair advantage in grappling situations).

Cutmen should not be confused with the fight doctor who is an official that monitors the health of the fighters, and whose task is closer to that of neutral referees. The fight doctor provides medical advice, monitors the safety of both fighters in accordance with regulations or law and evaluates their ability to continue fighting.

Treatments[edit | edit source]

Before the fight, cutmen will usually put petroleum jelly on the most likely areas of impact, especially the fighter's face, making the skin more elastic and slippery, and hence less likely to tear. It is not considered good practice to use large amounts of petroleum jelly, since during the fight it is likely to end up on the gloves of the opponent, and later in the eyes of the fighter if the opponent lands a punch close to their eyes. Cutmen might also wrap fighters' hands, which helps protect the bones and tendons.

During the fight, cutmen try to control any swelling or bleeding during the breaks between rounds. Since cutmen are not doctors, and have a very short period of time to treat the fighter, their treatments are limited to advanced first aid treatments with over-the-counter medication.

Swelling[edit | edit source]

Swelling is usually associated with facial hematomas (commonly called a bruise), and is traditionally reduced by applying firm pressure with a chilled enswell or an ice bag on top of the area of trauma.[2] Since the time between rounds is very short, cutmen try to apply the enswell right away and hold it as long as they can. A common mistake is to use the enswell to push on the swollen area in an attempt to disperse it or move it into a safer place such as away from the eye.[3] Such treatment will not move the hematoma, and may disrupt the microscopic blood vessels under the skin thus causing an increase in bleeding and enlargement of the swelled area[citation needed].

Cuts[edit | edit source]

Cuts (lacerations) are the primary focus of the cutman because unless the bleeding is stopped promptly, the ring side physician may stop the fight and declare that the injured fighter has lost the match. Physicians also will stop a match for a laceration that is perpendicular to the eye. The most common area of the face to be cut is around the eye. Cuts are treated by applying a cold towel to clean and simultaneously cool the area of the cut, causing a decrease in blood flow. A cotton swab soaked in epinephrine is applied with pressure to decrease blood flow even more, and Avitene is put into the cut to coagulate the blood.[1] A cutman might also cover the area with petroleum jelly to prevent further damage.


Pfc. Raelina Shinn (left) battles on with a nosebleed during the first female fight in the Armed Forces Boxing Championships.

Nosebleeds[edit | edit source]

Most nosebleeds occur near the opening of the nose. To stop the bleeding, cutmen generally apply a cotton swab soaked in adrenaline hydrochloride to the damaged area, while simultaneously pressing the nostril against the cotton swab with the other hand. Once the bleeding has stopped, the area is chilled with an ice pack or an enswell. The fighter is usually instructed to breathe through the mouth during the treatment.[2]

A broken nose is a more difficult case, and can be detected by a heavy flow of dark colored blood from the nose. The bleeding is generally treated the same way; however, the fighter is usually instructed to avoid swallowing blood as it may induce nausea or vomiting, and the cutman is more likely to consult the ringside physician to ensure the fighter's safety.

Tools[edit | edit source]

Equipment[edit | edit source]

  • Enswell, sometimes called end-swell, endswell, stop-swell, no-swell or simple eye iron, is a small piece of metal with a handle. It is traditionally kept on ice and is used to cool the area of a bruise or a cut by applying direct pressure to decrease the blood flow to the area.
  • Cotton swabs are used to apply medications to the fighter's wounds. While some cutmen use ready-made cotton swabs, others make their own.[1] It has been suggested that the common cutmen practice of keeping cotton swabs behind their ears or in their mouths is unsanitary.[3]
  • Ice packs are used to cool bruises, cuts and sprains, and to keep the enswell cold.
  • Petroleum jelly is put on the cuts and most likely areas of impact to make the skin more elastic and slippery, and hence less likely to tear. Some cutmen cover cuts with homemade salve containing a mix of petroleum jelly and adrenaline chloride, so that adrenaline keeps getting applied to the wound during the bout. Also, perspiration from above the eyes, will be prevented from reaching the eyes, by applying petroleum jelly to the eyebrows.
  • Gauze pads are used to dry cuts.
  • Medical gloves are worn by the cutman to limit the fighter's exposure to infectious matter, as well as limiting the cutman's exposure to blood.

Medications[edit | edit source]

Cutmen used to create their own medications, and the recipes were passed from masters to apprentices as trade secrets. Today, the use of various medications in sports is highly controlled, and most cutmen use only two or three standard medications from the list below.

Adrenaline hydrochloride (also adrenaline chloride, usually a 1:1000 epinephrine solution) 
Applied topically to decrease blood flow. This is arguably the most common medication used by cutmen.[3]
Avitene (microfibrillar collagen hemostat) 
Coagulant used for bleeding cuts. It works best when the surface is dry.[4] The treatment includes covering the affected area with Avitene, and applying moderate pressure with dry gauze.
Coagulant used when the blood is removed and the surface is dry.
Surgicel and Gelfoam 
Two other substances also used for coagulation, although less frequently than Avitene or Thrombin.
Monsel's solution 
This widely-outlawed hemostatic quickly stops the blood flow by chemically cauterizing the tissues surrounding the cut, while generating severe scar tissue. The application of a lead-based hemostatic can be recognized by the appearance of a dark ring of damaged tissue around the cut. However, Monsel's solution is an iron (sub)sulfate solution, contrary to popular misconception[3]—which contains no lead.

Notable cutmen[edit | edit source]

  • MMA cutmen Jacob Duran who is known as Stitch, Don House, Rob Monroe, Rudy Hernandez, Ted Lucio,
  • Dean Lassiter, Matt Marsden, and the recently retired Leon Tabbs.
  • Carlos Vargas, 4 seasons of T.V. reality show "The Contender" 3 seasons MTV's Bully Beatdown, many years of MMA and Boxing corners and Cuts.

Cutmen in popular culture[edit | edit source]

Film and TV[edit | edit source]

Video games[edit | edit source]

Fiction[edit | edit source]

  • Million Dollar Baby: Stories from the Corner by F.X. Toole contains several short stories on the lives of cutmen and their relationships with the fighters.

See also[edit | edit source]


References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Whisler, John (2004). Battered boxers want Joe Souza in their corner. www.mysanantonio.com. URL last accessed May 9, 2006.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Tenny, Dave (2002). How to Use Enswell and Take Care of a Nosebleed. www.thecutman.com. URL last accessed March 18, 2006.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Guzman, Trinidad; Duran, Jacob (2004). Boxing through the eyes of a cutman. www.fightnews.com. URL last accessed March 18, 2006.
  4. Davol, Inc. Avitene Microfibrillar Collagen Hemostat Instructions for Use. www.davol.com. URL last accessed March 20, 2006.
  5. Chuck Bodak passes Fightnews.com, February 6, 2009

Notes[edit | edit source]

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