Boxing is a physically traumatic and bloody sport, so a good cutman is one of a boxer’s greatest assets. A cutman uses the various tools in his toolkit to stop bleeding and swelling, allowing the fight to continue rather than having a referee or ringside physician stop the fight prematurely because of a boxer’s injuries. A license is required in some locations for a cutman to legally practice his trade, but in general there is no specific education or certification needed. The time-honored method for someone to be a cutman is to learn the craft and skills needed at the side of an already experienced cutman.
The National Trainer and Cutman Association is an organization that was formed to lobby for legal and financial protection for cutmen, who usually are employed under an informal agreement. A related Junior Cutman Association offers seminars for people who want to learn to become a cutman. The association calls for 5,000 hours of supervised work experience before a cutman can work independently in the boxing ring or in mixed martial arts fights. The association also says that to become a cutman, a trainee must earn certifications in first aid and CPR, and also learn how to properly wrap a boxer’s or fighter’s hands in addition to traditional cutwork.
It is important for someone who wants to become a cutman to learn the art of wrapping hands because this is one of his primary duties. Proper hand wrapping can help prevent serious injury. Another useful skill for a cutman is to know the fighter he is working with, to be able to read his body, his face and his personality, and to discern the signs of injury. Professional cutmen see themselves as not just insurance against injury and having a fight prematurely stopped; they also add to a martial arts fighter’s or boxer’s confidence. Some professionals say that to become a cutman, you also have to have a passion for the job, the ability to care for the person whose well-being you’re charged with protecting and a desire to learn the best practices to fulfill your responsibility.
There is some medical knowledge required to become a cutman, but it is definitely not necessary to be a doctor or paramedic. A doctor’s responsibility is to heal, while a cutman’s duties include trying to keep the fight going while stemming blood flow and easing bruises. A cutman needs to build a reputation for skill and reliability. Cutman careers often are built on word of mouth.