Amateur boxing is both an Olympic and Commonwealth Games sport and is a common fixture in most international games—it also has its own World Championships. Boxing is supervised by a referee over a series of one- to three-minute intervals called rounds. The result is decided when an opponent is deemed incapable to continue by a referee, is disqualified for breaking a rule, resigns by throwing in a towel, or is pronounced the winner or loser based on the judges' scorecards at the end of the contest. In the event that both fighters gain equal scores from the judges, the fight is considered a draw-what in other sports would be referred to as a tie-(professional boxing). In Olympic boxing, because a winner must be declared, in the case of a draw - the judges use technical criteria to choose the most deserving winner of the bout.
While humans have fought in hand-to-hand combat since the dawn of human history, the earliest evidence of fist-fighting sporting contests date back to the ancient Middle East in the 3rd and 2nd millennia BCE. The earliest evidence of boxing rules date back to Ancient Greece, where boxing was established as an Olympic game in 688 BC. Boxing evolved from 16th- and 18th-century prizefights, largely in Great Britain, to the forerunner of modern boxing in the mid-19th century with the 1867 introduction of the Marquess of Queensberry Rules.
|Also known as||Western Boxing, Pugilism See note.|
|Country of origin||Prehistoric|
688 BC (Ancient Greece)|
The earliest known depiction of boxing comes from a Sumerian relief in Iraq from the 3rd millennium BCE. Later depictions from the 2nd millennium BC are found in reliefs from the Mesopotamian nations of Assyria and Babylonia, and in Hittite art from Asia Minor. A relief sculpture from Egyptian Thebes (c. 1350 BCE) shows both boxers and spectators. The earliest evidence for fist fighting with any kind of gloves can be found on Minoan Crete (c. 1500–1400 BCE).
In Ancient Greece boxing was a well developed sport and enjoyed consistent popularity. In Olympic terms, it was first introduced in the 23rd Olympiad, 688 BC. The boxers would wind leather thongs around their hands in order to protect themselves. There were no rounds and boxers fought until one of them acknowledged defeat or could not continue. Weight categories were not used, which meant heavyweights had a tendency to dominate. The style of boxing practiced typically featured an advanced left leg stance, with the left arm semi-extended as a guard, in addition to being used for striking, and with the right arm drawn back ready to strike. It was the head of the opponent which was primarily targeted, and there is little evidence to suggest that targeting the body was common.
Boxing was a popular spectator sport in Ancient Rome. In order for the fighters to protect themselves against their opponents they wrapped leather thongs around their fists. Eventually harder leather was used and the thong soon became a weapon. The Romans even introduced metal studs to the thongs to make the cestus. Fighting events were held at Roman Amphitheatres. The Roman form of boxing was often a fight until death to please the spectators who gathered at such events. However, especially in later times, purchased slaves and trained combat performers were valuable commodities, and their lives were not given up without due consideration. Often slaves were used against one another in a circle marked on the floor. This is where the term ring came from. In AD 393, during the Roman gladiator period, boxing was abolished due to excessive brutality. It was not until the late 16th century that boxing re-surfaced in London.
Records of Classical boxing activity disappeared after the fall of the Western Roman Empire when the wearing of weapons became common once again and interest in fighting with the fists waned. However, there are detailed records of various fist-fighting sports that were maintained in different cities and provinces of Italy between the 12th and 17th centuries. There was also a sport in ancient Rus called Kulachniy Boy or "Fist Fighting".
As the wearing of swords became less common, there was renewed interest in fencing with the fists. The sport would later resurface in England during the early 16th century in the form of bare-knuckle boxing sometimes referred to as prizefighting. The first documented account of a bare-knuckle fight in England appeared in 1681 in the London Protestant Mercury, and the first English bare-knuckle champion was James Figg in 1719. This is also the time when the word "boxing" first came to be used. This earliest form of modern boxing was very different. Contests in Mr. Figg's time, in addition to fist fighting, also contained fencing and cudgeling. On 6 January 1681, the first recorded boxing match took place in Britain when Christopher Monck, 2nd Duke of Albemarle (and later Lieutenant Governor of Jamaica) engineered a bout between his butler and his butcher with the latter winning the prize.
Early fighting had no written rules. There were no weight divisions or round limits, and no referee. In general, it was extremely chaotic. An early article on boxing was published in Nottingham, 1713, by Sir Thomas Parkyns, a successful Wrestler from Bunny, Nottinghamshire, who had practised the techniques he described. The article, a single page in his manual of wrestling and fencing, Progymnasmata: The inn-play, or Cornish-hugg wrestler, described a system of headbutting, punching, eye-gouging, chokes, and hard throws, not recognized in boxing today.
The first boxing rules, called the Broughton's rules, were introduced by champion Jack Broughton in 1743 to protect fighters in the ring where deaths sometimes occurred. Under these rules, if a man went down and could not continue after a count of 30 seconds, the fight was over. Hitting a downed fighter and grasping below the waist were prohibited. Broughton encouraged the use of 'mufflers', a form of padded bandage or mitten, to be used in 'jousting' or sparring sessions in training, and in exhibition matches.
These rules did allow the fighters an advantage not enjoyed by today's boxers; they permitted the fighter to drop to one knee to end the round and begin the 30-second count at any time. Thus a fighter realizing he was in trouble had an opportunity to recover. However, this was considered "unmanly" and was frequently disallowed by additional rules negotiated by the Seconds of the Boxers. In modern boxing, there is a three-minute limit to rounds (unlike the downed fighter ends the round rule). Intentionally going down in modern boxing will cause the recovering fighter to lose points in the scoring system. Furthermore, as the contestants did not have heavy leather gloves and wristwraps to protect their hands, they used different punching technique to preserve their hands because the head was a common target to hit full out. Almost all period manuals have powerful straight punches with the whole body behind them to the face (including forehead) as the basic blows.
The London Prize Ring Rules introduced measures that remain in effect for professional boxing to this day, such as outlawing butting, gouging, scratching, kicking, hitting a man while down, holding the ropes, and using resin, stones or hard objects in the hands, and biting.
In 1867, the Marquess of Queensberry rules were drafted by John Chambers for amateur championships held at Lillie Bridge in London for Lightweights, Middleweights and Heavyweights. The rules were published under the patronage of the Marquess of Queensberry, whose name has always been associated with them.
There were twelve rules in all, and they specified that fights should be "a fair stand-up boxing match" in a 24-foot-square or similar ring. Rounds were three minutes with one-minute rest intervals between rounds. Each fighter was given a ten-second count if he was knocked down, and wrestling was banned. The introduction of gloves of "fair-size" also changed the nature of the bouts. An average pair of boxing gloves resembles a bloated pair of mittens and are laced up around the wrists. The gloves can be used to block an opponent's blows. As a result of their introduction, bouts became longer and more strategic with greater importance attached to defensive maneuvers such as slipping, bobbing, countering and angling. Because less defensive emphasis was placed on the use of the forearms and more on the gloves, the classical forearms outwards, torso leaning back stance of the bare knuckle boxer was modified to a more modern stance in which the torso is tilted forward and the hands are held closer to the face.
Through the late nineteenth century, the martial art of boxing or prizefighting was primarily a sport of dubious legitimacy. Outlawed in England and much of the United States, prizefights were often held at gambling venues and broken up by police. Brawling and wrestling tactics continued, and riots at prizefights were common occurrences. Still, throughout this period, there arose some notable bare knuckle champions who developed fairly sophisticated fighting tactics.
The English case of R v. Coney in 1882 found that a bare-knuckle fight was an assault occasioning actual bodily harm, despite the consent of the participants. This marked the end of widespread public bare-knuckle contests in England.
The first instance of film censorship in the United States occurred in 1897 when several states banned the showing of prize fighting films from the state of Nevada, where it was legal at the time.
Throughout the early twentieth century, boxers struggled to achieve legitimacy. They were aided by the influence of promoters like Tex Rickard and the popularity of great champions such as John L. Sullivan.
The sport rising from illegal venues and outlawed prize fighting has become one of the largest multibillion-dollar sports today. A majority of young talent still comes from poverty-stricken areas around the world. Places like Mexico, Africa, South America, and Eastern Europe prove to be filled with young aspiring athletes who wish to become the future of boxing. Even in the U.S., places like the inner cities of New York, and Chicago have given rise to promising young talent. According to Rubin, "boxing lost its appeal with the American middle class, and most of who boxes in modern America come from the streets and are street fighters".
A boxing match typically consists of a determined number of three-minute rounds, a total of up to 9 to 12 rounds. A minute is typically spent between each round with the fighters in their assigned corners receiving advice and attention from their coach and staff. The fight is controlled by a referee who works within the ring to judge and control the conduct of the fighters, rule on their ability to fight safely, count knocked-down fighters, and rule on fouls.
Up to three judges are typically present at ringside to score the bout and assign points to the boxers, based on punches and elbows that connect, defense, knockdowns, hugging and other, more subjective, measures. Because of the open-ended style of boxing judging, many fights have controversial results, in which one or both fighters believe they have been "robbed" or unfairly denied a victory. Each fighter has an assigned corner of the ring, where his or her coach, as well as one or more "seconds" may administer to the fighter at the beginning of the fight and between rounds. Each boxer enters into the ring from their assigned corners at the beginning of each round and must cease fighting and return to their corner at the signalled end of each round.
A bout in which the predetermined number of rounds passes is decided by the judges, and is said to "go the distance". The fighter with the higher score at the end of the fight is ruled the winner. With three judges, unanimous and split decisions are possible, as are draws. A boxer may win the bout before a decision is reached through a knock-out; such bouts are said to have ended "inside the distance". If a fighter is knocked down during the fight, determined by whether the boxer touches the canvas floor of the ring with any part of their body other than the feet as a result of the opponent's punch and not a slip, as determined by the referee, the referee begins counting until the fighter returns to his or her feet and can continue. Some jurisdictions require the referee to count to eight regardless of if the fighter gets up before.
Should the referee count to ten, then the knocked-down boxer is ruled "knocked out" (whether unconscious or not) and the other boxer is ruled the winner by knockout (KO). A "technical knock-out" (TKO) is possible as well, and is ruled by the referee, fight doctor, or a fighter's corner if a fighter is unable to safely continue to fight, based upon injuries or being judged unable to effectively defend themselves. Many jurisdictions and sanctioning agencies also have a "three-knockdown rule", in which three knockdowns in a given round result in a TKO. A TKO is considered a knockout in a fighter's record. A "standing eight" count rule may also be in effect. This gives the referee the right to step in and administer a count of eight to a fighter that he or she feels may be in danger, even if no knockdown has taken place. After counting the referee will observe the fighter, and decide if he or she is fit to continue. For scoring purposes, a standing eight count is treated as a knockdown.
In general, boxers are prohibited from hitting below the belt, holding, tripping, pushing, biting, or spitting. The boxer's shorts are raised so the opponent is not allowed to hit to the groin area with intent to cause pain or injury. Failure to abide by the former may result in a foul. They also are prohibited from kicking, head-butting, or hitting with any part of the arm other than the knuckles of a closed fist (including hitting with the elbow, shoulder or forearm, as well as with open gloves, the wrist, the inside, back or side of the hand). They are prohibited as well from hitting the back, back of the head or neck (called a "rabbit-punch") or the kidneys. They are prohibited from holding the ropes for support when punching, holding an opponent while punching, or ducking below the belt of their opponent (dropping below the waist of your opponent, no matter the distance between).
If a "clinch" – a defensive move in which a boxer wraps his or her opponents arms and holds on to create a pause – is broken by the referee, each fighter must take a full step back before punching again (alternatively, the referee may direct the fighters to "punch out" of the clinch). When a boxer is knocked down, the other boxer must immediately cease fighting and move to the furthest neutral corner of the ring until the referee has either ruled a knockout or called for the fight to continue.
Violations of these rules may be ruled "fouls" by the referee, who may issue warnings, deduct points, or disqualify an offending boxer, causing an automatic loss, depending on the seriousness and intentionality of the foul. An intentional foul that causes injury that prevents a fight from continuing usually causes the boxer who committed it to be disqualified. A fighter who suffers an accidental low-blow may be given up to five minutes to recover, after which they may be ruled knocked out if they are unable to continue. Accidental fouls that cause injury ending a bout may lead to a "no contest" result, or else cause the fight to go to a decision if enough rounds (typically four or more, or at least three in a four-round fight) have passed.
Unheard of in the modern era, but common during the early 20th Century in North America, a "newspaper decision (NWS)" might be made after a no decision bout had ended. A "no decision" bout occurred when, by law or by pre-arrangement of the fighters, if both boxers were still standing at the fight's conclusion and there was no knockout, no official decision was rendered and neither boxer was declared the winner. But this did not prevent the pool of ringside newspaper reporters from declaring a consensus result among themselves and printing a newspaper decision in their publications. Officially, however, a "no decision" bout resulted in neither boxer winning or losing. Boxing historians sometimes use these unofficial newspaper decisions in compiling fight records for illustrative purposes only. Often, media outlets covering a match will personally score the match, and post their scores as an independent sentence in their report.
Throughout the 17th to 19th centuries, boxing bouts were motivated by money, as the fighters competed for prize money, promoters controlled the gate, and spectators bet on the result. The modern Olympic movement revived interest in amateur sports, and amateur boxing became an Olympic sport in 1908. In their current form, Olympic and other amateur bouts are typically limited to three or four rounds, scoring is computed by points based on the number of clean blows landed, regardless of impact, and fighters wear protective headgear, reducing the number of injuries, knockdowns, and knockouts. Currently scoring blows in amateur boxing are subjectively counted by ringside judges, but the Australian Institute for Sport has demonstrated a prototype of an Automated Boxing Scoring System, which introduces scoring objectivity, improves safety, and arguably makes the sport more interesting to spectators. Professional boxing remains by far the most popular form of the sport globally, though amateur boxing is dominant in Cuba and some former Soviet republics. For most fighters, an amateur career, especially at the Olympics, serves to develop skills and gain experience in preparation for a professional career. Western boxers typically participate in one Olympics and then turn pro, Cubans and other socialist countries have an opportunity to collect multiple medals. In 2016, professional boxers were admitted in the Olympic Games and other tournaments sanctioned by AIBA. This was done in part to level the playing field and give all of the athletes the same opportunities government-sponsored boxers from socialist countries and post-Soviet republics have. However, professional organizations strongly opposed that decision.
Amateur boxing may be found at the collegiate level, at the Olympic Games and Commonwealth Games, and in many other venues sanctioned by amateur boxing associations. Amateur boxing has a point scoring system that measures the number of clean blows landed rather than physical damage. Bouts consist of three rounds of three minutes in the Olympic and Commonwealth Games, and three rounds of three minutes in a national ABA (Amateur Boxing Association) bout, each with a one-minute interval between rounds.
Competitors wear protective headgear and gloves with a white strip or circle across the knuckle. There are cases however, where white ended gloves are not required but any solid color may be worn. The white end just is a way to make it easier for judges to score clean hits. Each competitor must have their hands properly wrapped, pre-fight, for added protection on their hands and for added cushion under the gloves. Gloves worn by the fighters must be twelve ounces in weight unless the fighters weigh under 165 pounds (75 kg), thus allowing them to wear ten ounce gloves. A punch is considered a scoring punch only when the boxers connect with the white portion of the gloves. Each punch that lands cleanly on the head or torso with sufficient force is awarded a point. A referee monitors the fight to ensure that competitors use only legal blows. A belt worn over the torso represents the lower limit of punches – any boxer repeatedly landing low blows below the belt is disqualified. Referees also ensure that the boxers don't use holding tactics to prevent the opponent from swinging. If this occurs, the referee separates the opponents and orders them to continue boxing. Repeated holding can result in a boxer being penalized or ultimately disqualified. Referees will stop the bout if a boxer is seriously injured, if one boxer is significantly dominating the other or if the score is severely imbalanced. Amateur bouts which end this way may be noted as "RSC" (referee stopped contest) with notations for an outclassed opponent (RSCO), outscored opponent (RSCOS), injury (RSCI) or head injury (RSCH).
Professional bouts are usually much longer than amateur bouts, typically ranging from ten to twelve rounds, though four-round fights are common for less experienced fighters or club fighters. There are also some two- and three-round professional bouts, especially in Australia. Through the early 20th century, it was common for fights to have unlimited rounds, ending only when one fighter quit, benefiting high-energy fighters like Jack Dempsey. Fifteen rounds remained the internationally recognized limit for championship fights for most of the 20th century until the early 1980s, when the death of boxer Kim Duk-koo eventually prompted the World Boxing Council and other organizations sanctioning professional boxing to reduce the limit to twelve rounds.
Headgear is not permitted in professional bouts, and boxers are generally allowed to take much more damage before a fight is halted. At any time, the referee may stop the contest if he believes that one participant cannot defend himself due to injury. In that case, the other participant is awarded a technical knockout win. A technical knockout would also be awarded if a fighter lands a punch that opens a cut on the opponent, and the opponent is later deemed not fit to continue by a doctor because of the cut. For this reason, fighters often employ cutmen, whose job is to treat cuts between rounds so that the boxer is able to continue despite the cut. If a boxer simply quits fighting, or if his corner stops the fight, then the winning boxer is also awarded a technical knockout victory. In contrast with amateur boxing, professional male boxers have to be bare-chested.
"Style" is often defined as the strategic approach a fighter takes during a bout. No two fighters' styles are alike, as each is determined by that individual's physical and mental attributes. Three main styles exist in boxing: outside fighter ("boxer"), brawler (or "slugger"), and Inside fighter ("swarmer"). These styles may be divided into several special subgroups, such as counter puncher, etc. The main philosophy of the styles is, that each style has an advantage over one, but disadvantage over the other one. It follows the rock-paper-scissors scenario - boxer beats brawler, brawler beats swarmer, and swarmer beats boxer.
A classic "boxer" or stylist (also known as an "out-fighter") seeks to maintain distance between himself and his opponent, fighting with faster, longer range punches, most notably the jab, and gradually wearing his opponent down. Due to this reliance on weaker punches, out-fighters tend to win by point decisions rather than by knockout, though some out-fighters have notable knockout records. They are often regarded as the best boxing strategists due to their ability to control the pace of the fight and lead their opponent, methodically wearing him down and exhibiting more skill and finesse than a brawler. Out-fighters need reach, hand speed, reflexes, and footwork.
Notable out-fighters include Muhammad Ali, Larry Holmes, Joe Calzaghe, Wilfredo Gómez, Salvador Sanchez, Cecilia Brækhus, Gene Tunney, Ezzard Charles, Willie Pep, Meldrick Taylor, Ricardo Lopez, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Roy Jones Jr., Sugar Ray Leonard, Miguel Vazquez, Sergio "Maravilla" Martínez, Vitali Klitschko, Wladimir Klitschko and Guillermo Rigondeaux. This style was also used by fictional boxer Apollo Creed.
A boxer-puncher is a well-rounded boxer who is able to fight at close range with a combination of technique and power, often with the ability to knock opponents out with a combination and in some instances a single shot. Their movement and tactics are similar to that of an out-fighter (although they are generally not as mobile as an out-fighter), but instead of winning by decision, they tend to wear their opponents down using combinations and then move in to score the knockout. A boxer must be well rounded to be effective using this style.
Notable boxer-punchers include Muhammad Ali, Canelo Álvarez, Wladimir Klitschko, Vasyl Lomachenko, Lennox Lewis, Joe Louis, Wilfredo Gómez, Oscar de la Hoya, Archie Moore, Miguel Cotto, Nonito Donaire, Sam Langford, Henry Armstrong, Sugar Ray Robinson, Tony Zale, Carlos Monzón, Alexis Argüello, Erik Morales, Terry Norris, Marco Antonio Barrera, Naseem Hamed and Thomas Hearns.
Counter punchers are slippery, defensive style fighters who often rely on their opponent's mistakes in order to gain the advantage, whether it be on the score cards or more preferably a knockout. They use their well-rounded defense to avoid or block shots and then immediately catch the opponent off guard with a well placed and timed punch. A fight with a skilled counter-puncher can turn into a war of attrition, where each shot landed is a battle in itself. Thus, fighting against counter punchers requires constant feinting and the ability to avoid telegraphing one's attacks. To be truly successful using this style they must have good reflexes, a high level of prediction and awareness, pinpoint accuracy and speed, both in striking and in footwork.
Notable counter punchers include Muhammad Ali, Joe Calzaghe, Vitali Klitschko, Evander Holyfield, Max Schmeling, Chris Byrd, Jim Corbett, Jack Johnson, Bernard Hopkins, Laszlo Papp, Jerry Quarry, Anselmo Moreno, James Toney, Marvin Hagler, Juan Manuel Márquez, Humberto Soto, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Roger Mayweather, Pernell Whitaker, Sergio Gabriel Martinez and Guillermo Rigondeaux. This style of boxing is also used by fictional boxer Little Mac.
Counter punchers usually wear their opponents down by causing them to miss their punches. The more the opponent misses, the faster they tire, and the psychological effects of being unable to land a hit will start to sink in. The counter puncher often tries to outplay their opponent entirely, not just in a physical sense, but also in a mental and emotional sense. This style can be incredibly difficult, especially against seasoned fighters, but winning a fight without getting hit is often worth the pay-off. They usually try to stay away from the center of the ring, in order to outmaneuver and chip away at their opponents. A large advantage in counter-hitting is the forward momentum of the attacker, which drives them further into your return strike. As such, knockouts are more common than one would expect from a defensive style.
A brawler is a fighter who generally lacks finesse and footwork in the ring, but makes up for it through sheer punching power. Many brawlers tend to lack mobility, preferring a less mobile, more stable platform and have difficulty pursuing fighters who are fast on their feet. They may also have a tendency to ignore combination punching in favor of continuous beat-downs with one hand and by throwing slower, more powerful single punches (such as hooks and uppercuts). Their slowness and predictable punching pattern (single punches with obvious leads) often leaves them open to counter punches, so successful brawlers must be able to absorb substantial amounts of punishment. However, not all brawler/slugger fighters are not mobile; some can move around and switch styles if needed but still have the brawler/slugger style such as Wilfredo Gómez, Prince Naseem Hamed and Danny García.
A brawler's most important assets are power and chin (the ability to absorb punishment while remaining able to continue boxing). Examples of this style include George Foreman, Rocky Marciano, Julio César Chávez, Roberto Duran, Danny García, Wilfredo Gómez, Sonny Liston, John L. Sullivan, Max Baer, Prince Naseem Hamed, Ray Mancini, David Tua, Arturo Gatti, Micky Ward, Brandon Ríos, Ruslan Provodnikov, Michael Katsidis, James Kirkland, Marcos Maidana, Jake LaMotta, Manny Pacquiao, and Ireland's John Duddy. This style of boxing was also used by fictional boxers Rocky Balboa and James "Clubber" Lang.
Brawlers tend to be more predictable and easy to hit but usually fare well enough against other fighting styles because they train to take punches very well. They often have a higher chance than other fighting styles to score a knockout against their opponents because they focus on landing big, powerful hits, instead of smaller, faster attacks. Oftentimes they place focus on training on their upper body instead of their entire body, to increase power and endurance. They also aim to intimidate their opponents because of their power, stature and ability to take a punch.
In-fighters/swarmers (sometimes called "pressure fighters") attempt to stay close to an opponent, throwing intense flurries and combinations of hooks and uppercuts. Mainly Mexican, Irish, Irish-American, Puerto Rican, and Mexican-American boxers popularized this style. A successful in-fighter often needs a good "chin" because swarming usually involves being hit with many jabs before they can maneuver inside where they are more effective. In-fighters operate best at close range because they are generally shorter and have less reach than their opponents and thus are more effective at a short distance where the longer arms of their opponents make punching awkward. However, several fighters tall for their division have been relatively adept at in-fighting as well as out-fighting.
The essence of a swarmer is non-stop aggression. Many short in-fighters utilize their stature to their advantage, employing a bob-and-weave defense by bending at the waist to slip underneath or to the sides of incoming punches. Unlike blocking, causing an opponent to miss a punch disrupts his balance, this permits forward movement past the opponent's extended arm and keeps the hands free to counter. A distinct advantage that in-fighters have is when throwing uppercuts, they can channel their entire bodyweight behind the punch; Mike Tyson was famous for throwing devastating uppercuts. Marvin Hagler was known for his hard "chin", punching power, body attack and the stalking of his opponents. Some in-fighters, like Mike Tyson, have been known for being notoriously hard to hit. The key to a swarmer is aggression, endurance, chin, and bobbing-and-weaving.
Notable in-fighters include Henry Armstrong, Aaron Pryor, Julio César Chávez, Jack Dempsey, Shawn Porter, Miguel Cotto, Joe Frazier, Danny García, Mike Tyson, Manny Pacquiao, Rocky Marciano, Wayne McCullough, Gerry Penalosa, Harry Greb, David Tua, Ricky Hatton and Gennady Golovkin. This style was also used by the Street Fighter character Balrog.
All fighters have primary skills with which they feel most comfortable, but truly elite fighters are often able to incorporate auxiliary styles when presented with a particular challenge. For example, an out-fighter will sometimes plant his feet and counter punch, or a slugger may have the stamina to pressure fight with his power punches.
There is a generally accepted rule of thumb about the success each of these boxing styles has against the others. In general, an in-fighter has an advantage over an out-fighter, an out-fighter has an advantage over a brawler, and a brawler has an advantage over an in-fighter; these form a cycle with each style being stronger relative to one, and weaker relative to another, with none dominating, as in rock-paper-scissors. Naturally, many other factors, such as the skill level and training of the combatants, determine the outcome of a fight, but the widely held belief in this relationship among the styles is embodied in the cliché amongst boxing fans and writers that "styles make fights."
Brawlers tend to overcome swarmers or in-fighters because, in trying to get close to the slugger, the in-fighter will invariably have to walk straight into the guns of the much harder-hitting brawler, so, unless the former has a very good chin and the latter's stamina is poor, the brawler's superior power will carry the day. A famous example of this type of match-up advantage would be George Foreman's knockout victory over Joe Frazier in their original bout "The Sunshine Showdown".
Although in-fighters struggle against heavy sluggers, they typically enjoy more success against out-fighters or boxers. Out-fighters prefer a slower fight, with some distance between themselves and the opponent. The in-fighter tries to close that gap and unleash furious flurries. On the inside, the out-fighter loses a lot of his combat effectiveness, because he cannot throw the hard punches. The in-fighter is generally successful in this case, due to his intensity in advancing on his opponent and his good agility, which makes him difficult to evade. For example, the swarming Joe Frazier, though easily dominated by the slugger George Foreman, was able to create many more problems for the boxer Muhammad Ali in their three fights. Joe Louis, after retirement, admitted that he hated being crowded, and that swarmers like untied/undefeated champ Rocky Marciano would have caused him style problems even in his prime.
The boxer or out-fighter tends to be most successful against a brawler, whose slow speed (both hand and foot) and poor technique makes him an easy target to hit for the faster out-fighter. The out-fighter's main concern is to stay alert, as the brawler only needs to land one good punch to finish the fight. If the out-fighter can avoid those power punches, he can often wear the brawler down with fast jabs, tiring him out. If he is successful enough, he may even apply extra pressure in the later rounds in an attempt to achieve a knockout. Most classic boxers, such as Muhammad Ali, enjoyed their best successes against sluggers.
An example of a style matchup was the historical fight of Julio César Chávez, a swarmer or in-fighter, against Meldrick Taylor, the boxer or out-fighter (see Julio César Chávez vs. Meldrick Taylor). The match was nicknamed "Thunder Meets Lightning" as an allusion to punching power of Chávez and blinding speed of Taylor. Chávez was the epitome of the "Mexican" style of boxing. Taylor's hand and foot speed and boxing abilities gave him the early advantage, allowing him to begin building a large lead on points. Chávez remained relentless in his pursuit of Taylor and due to his greater punching power Chávez slowly punished Taylor. Coming into the later rounds, Taylor was bleeding from the mouth, his entire face was swollen, the bones around his eye socket had been broken, he had swallowed a considerable amount of his own blood, and as he grew tired, Taylor was increasingly forced into exchanging blows with Chávez, which only gave Chávez a greater chance to cause damage. While there was little doubt that Taylor had solidly won the first three quarters of the fight, the question at hand was whether he would survive the final quarter. Going into the final round, Taylor held a secure lead on the scorecards of two of the three judges. Chávez would have to knock Taylor out to claim a victory, whereas Taylor merely needed to stay away from the Mexican legend. However, Taylor did not stay away, but continued to trade blows with Chávez. As he did so, Taylor showed signs of extreme exhaustion, and every tick of the clock brought Taylor closer to victory unless Chávez could knock him out. With about a minute left in the round, Chávez hit Taylor squarely with several hard punches and stayed on the attack, continuing to hit Taylor with well-placed shots. Finally, with about 25 seconds to go, Chávez landed a hard right hand that caused Taylor to stagger forward towards a corner, forcing Chávez back ahead of him. Suddenly Chávez stepped around Taylor, positioning him so that Taylor was trapped in the corner, with no way to escape from Chávez' desperate final flurry. Chávez then nailed Taylor with a tremendous right hand that dropped the younger man. By using the ring ropes to pull himself up, Taylor managed to return to his feet and was given the mandatory 8-count. Referee Richard Steele asked Taylor twice if he was able to continue fighting, but Taylor failed to answer. Steele then concluded that Taylor was unfit to continue and signaled that he was ending the fight, resulting in a TKO victory for Chávez with only two seconds to go in the bout.
Since boxing involves forceful, repetitive punching, precautions must be taken to prevent damage to bones in the hand. Most trainers do not allow boxers to train and spar without wrist wraps and boxing gloves. Hand wraps are used to secure the bones in the hand, and the gloves are used to protect the hands from blunt injury, allowing boxers to throw punches with more force than if they did not utilise them. Gloves have been required in competition since the late nineteenth century, though modern boxing gloves are much heavier than those worn by early twentieth-century fighters. Prior to a bout, both boxers agree upon the weight of gloves to be used in the bout, with the understanding that lighter gloves allow heavy punchers to inflict more damage. The brand of gloves can also affect the impact of punches, so this too is usually stipulated before a bout. Both sides are allowed to inspect the wraps and gloves of the opponent to help ensure both are within agreed upon specifications and no tampering has taken place.
A mouthguard is important to protect the teeth and gums from injury, and to cushion the jaw, resulting in a decreased chance of knockout. Both fighters must wear soft soled shoes to reduce the damage from accidental (or intentional) stepping on feet. While older boxing boots more commonly resembled those of a professional wrestler, modern boxing shoes and boots tend to be quite similar to their amateur wrestling counterparts.
Boxers practice their skills on two basic types of punching bags. A small, tear-drop-shaped "speed bag" is used to hone reflexes and repetitive punching skills, while a large cylindrical "heavy bag" filled with sand, a synthetic substitute, or water is used to practice power punching and body blows. In addition to these distinctive pieces of equipment, boxers also utilize sport-nonspecific training equipment to build strength, speed, agility, and stamina. Common training equipment includes free weights, rowing machines, jump rope, and medicine balls.
Boxing matches typically take place in a boxing ring, a raised platform surrounded by ropes attached to posts rising in each corner. The term "ring" has come to be used as a metaphor for many aspects of prize fighting in general.
The modern boxing stance differs substantially from the typical boxing stances of the 19th and early 20th centuries. The modern stance has a more upright vertical-armed guard, as opposed to the more horizontal, knuckles-facing-forward guard adopted by early 20th century hook users such as Jack Johnson.
In a fully upright stance, the boxer stands with the legs shoulder-width apart and the rear foot a half-step in front of the lead man. Right-handed or orthodox boxers lead with the left foot and fist (for most penetration power). Both feet are parallel, and the right heel is off the ground. The lead (left) fist is held vertically about six inches in front of the face at eye level. The rear (right) fist is held beside the chin and the elbow tucked against the ribcage to protect the body. The chin is tucked into the chest to avoid punches to the jaw which commonly cause knock-outs and is often kept slightly off-center. Wrists are slightly bent to avoid damage when punching and the elbows are kept tucked in to protect the ribcage. Some boxers fight from a crouch, leaning forward and keeping their feet closer together. The stance described is considered the "textbook" stance and fighters are encouraged to change it around once it's been mastered as a base. Case in point, many fast fighters have their hands down and have almost exaggerated footwork, while brawlers or bully fighters tend to slowly stalk their opponents.
Left-handed or southpaw fighters use a mirror image of the orthodox stance, which can create problems for orthodox fighters unaccustomed to receiving jabs, hooks, or crosses from the opposite side. The southpaw stance, conversely, is vulnerable to a straight right hand.
North American fighters tend to favor a more balanced stance, facing the opponent almost squarely, while many European fighters stand with their torso turned more to the side. The positioning of the hands may also vary, as some fighters prefer to have both hands raised in front of the face, risking exposure to body shots.
Modern boxers can sometimes be seen tapping their cheeks or foreheads with their fists in order to remind themselves to keep their hands up (which becomes difficult during long bouts). Boxers are taught to push off with their feet in order to move effectively. Forward motion involves lifting the lead leg and pushing with the rear leg. Rearward motion involves lifting the rear leg and pushing with the lead leg. During lateral motion the leg in the direction of the movement moves first while the opposite leg provides the force needed to move the body.
There are four basic punches in boxing: the jab, cross, hook and uppercut. Any punch other than a jab is considered a power punch. If a boxer is right-handed (orthodox), his left hand is the lead hand and his right hand is the rear hand. For a left-handed boxer or southpaw, the hand positions are reversed. For clarity, the following discussion will assume a right-handed boxer.
These different punch types can be thrown in rapid succession to form combinations or "combos." The most common is the jab and cross combination, nicknamed the "one-two combo." This is usually an effective combination, because the jab blocks the opponent's view of the cross, making it easier to land cleanly and forcefully.
A large, swinging circular punch starting from a cocked-back position with the arm at a longer extension than the hook and all of the fighter's weight behind it is sometimes referred to as a "roundhouse," "haymaker," "overhand," or sucker-punch. Relying on body weight and centripetal force within a wide arc, the roundhouse can be a powerful blow, but it is often a wild and uncontrolled punch that leaves the fighter delivering it off balance and with an open guard.
Wide, looping punches have the further disadvantage of taking more time to deliver, giving the opponent ample warning to react and counter. For this reason, the haymaker or roundhouse is not a conventional punch, and is regarded by trainers as a mark of poor technique or desperation. Sometimes it has been used, because of its immense potential power, to finish off an already staggering opponent who seems unable or unlikely to take advantage of the poor position it leaves the puncher in.
Another unconventional punch is the rarely used bolo punch, in which the opponent swings an arm out several times in a wide arc, usually as a distraction, before delivering with either that or the other arm.
An illegal punch to the back of the head or neck is known as a rabbit punch.
Both the hook and uppercut may be thrown with both hands, resulting in differing footwork and positioning from that described above if thrown by the other hand. Generally the analogous opposite is true of the footwork and torso movement.
There are several basic maneuvers a boxer can use in order to evade or block punches, depicted and discussed below.
In boxing, each fighter is given a corner of the ring where he rests in between rounds for 1 minute and where his trainers stand. Typically, three men stand in the corner besides the boxer himself; these are the trainer, the assistant trainer and the cutman. The trainer and assistant typically give advice to the boxer on what he is doing wrong as well as encouraging him if he is losing. The cutman is a cutaneous doctor responsible for keeping the boxer's face and eyes free of cuts and blood. This is of particular importance because many fights are stopped because of cuts that threaten the boxer's eyes.
In addition, the corner is responsible for stopping the fight if they feel their fighter is in grave danger of permanent injury. The corner will occasionally throw in a white towel to signify a boxer's surrender (the idiomatic phrase "to throw in the towel", meaning to give up, derives from this practice). This can be seen in the fight between Diego Corrales and Floyd Mayweather. In that fight, Corrales' corner surrendered despite Corrales' steadfast refusal.
Knocking a person unconscious or even causing a concussion may cause permanent brain damage. There is no clear division between the force required to knock a person out and the force likely to kill a person. From 1980 to 2007, more than 200 amateur boxers, professional boxers and Toughman fighters died due to ring or training injuries. In 1983, editorials in the Journal of the American Medical Association called for a ban on boxing. The editor, Dr. George Lundberg, called boxing an "obscenity" that "should not be sanctioned by any civilized society." Since then, the British, Canadian and Australian Medical Associations have called for bans on boxing.
Supporters of the ban state that boxing is the only sport where hurting the other athlete is the goal. Dr. Bill O'Neill, boxing spokesman for the British Medical Association, has supported the BMA's proposed ban on boxing: "It is the only sport where the intention is to inflict serious injury on your opponent, and we feel that we must have a total ban on boxing." Opponents respond that such a position is misguided opinion, stating that amateur boxing is scored solely according to total connecting blows with no award for "injury". They observe that many skilled professional boxers have had rewarding careers without inflicting injury on opponents by accumulating scoring blows and avoiding punches winning rounds scored 10-9 by the 10-point must system, and they note that there are many other sports where concussions are much more prevalent.
In 2007, one study of amateur boxers showed that protective headgear did not prevent brain damage, and another found that amateur boxers faced a high risk of brain damage. The Gothenburg study analyzed temporary levels of neurofiliment light in cerebral spinal fluid which they conclude is evidence of damage, even though the levels soon subside. More comprehensive studies of neurologiocal function on larger samples performed by Johns Hopkins University and accident rates analyzed by National Safety Council show amateur boxing is a comparatively safe sport.
Professional boxing is forbidden in Iceland, Iran, Saudi Arabia and North Korea. It was banned in Sweden until 2007 when the ban was lifted but strict restrictions, including four three-minute rounds for fights, were imposed. It was banned in Albania from 1965 till the fall of Communism in 1991; it is now legal there. Norway legalized professional boxing in December 2014.
The sport of boxing has two internationally recognized boxing halls of fame; the International Boxing Hall of Fame (IBHOF) and the World Boxing Hall of Fame (WBHF), with the IBHOF being the more widely recognized boxing hall of fame. In 2013, The Boxing Hall of Fame Las Vegas opened in Las Vegas, NV founded by Steve Lott, former assistant manager for Mike Tyson.
The WBHF was founded by Everett L. Sanders in 1980. Since its inception, the WBHOF has never had a permanent location or museum, which has allowed the more recent IBHOF to garner more publicity and prestige. Among the notable names in the WBHF are Ricardo "Finito" Lopez, Gabriel "Flash" Elorde, Michael Carbajal, Khaosai Galaxy, Henry Armstrong, Jack Johnson, Roberto Durán, George Foreman, Ceferino Garcia and Salvador Sanchez. Boxing's International Hall of Fame was inspired by a tribute an American town held for two local heroes in 1982. The town, Canastota, New York, (which is about 15 miles (24 km) east of Syracuse, via the New York State Thruway), honored former world welterweight/middleweight champion Carmen Basilio and his nephew, former world welterweight champion Billy Backus. The people of Canastota raised money for the tribute which inspired the idea of creating an official, annual hall of fame for notable boxers.
The International Boxing Hall of Fame opened in Canastota in 1989. The first inductees in 1990 included Jack Johnson, Benny Leonard, Jack Dempsey, Henry Armstrong, Sugar Ray Robinson, Archie Moore, and Muhammad Ali. Other world-class figures include Salvador Sanchez, Jose Napoles, Roberto "Manos de Piedra" Durán, Ricardo Lopez, Gabriel "Flash" Elorde, Vicente Saldivar, Ismael Laguna, Eusebio Pedroza, Carlos Monzón, Azumah Nelson, Rocky Marciano, Pipino Cuevas and Ken Buchanan. The Hall of Fame's induction ceremony is held every June as part of a four-day event. The fans who come to Canastota for the Induction Weekend are treated to a number of events, including scheduled autograph sessions, boxing exhibitions, a parade featuring past and present inductees, and the induction ceremony itself.
The Boxing Hall of Fame Las Vegas features the $75 million ESPN Classic Sports fight film and tape library and radio broadcast collection. The collection includes the fights of all the great champions including: Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, George Foreman, Roberto Duran, Marvin Hagler, Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, Joe Frazier, Rocky Marciano and Sugar Ray Robinson. It is this exclusive fight film library that will separate the Boxing Hall of Fame Las Vegas from the other halls of fame which do not have rights to any video of their sports. The inaugural inductees included Muhammad Ali, Henry Armstrong, Tony Canzoneri, Ezzard Charles, Julio César Chávez Sr., Jack Dempsey, Roberto Duran, Joe Louis, and Sugar Ray Robinson
There are various organization and websites, that rank boxers in both weight class and pound-for-pound manner.