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British boxing sensation Amir Khan.

Taken down to its bare bones, the sport of boxing consists of two men hitting each other repeatedly in the hope that one of them loses consciousness. So what separates one of the biggest money sports in the world from a Friday night outside a city centre bar?

Plain and Simple

A boxing match is fought between two pugilists over a set number of rounds. The rounds are normally three minutes long, two in amateur fights, and have a break of a minute between rounds. In modern professional boxing, fights have a maximum of 12 rounds, though shorter fights are common outside of championship bouts. Amateurs fight over a maximum of four rounds.

Boxers wear gloves, shoes and shorts. Amateurs also wear a head guard and a vest. Punches have to land above the waist. The current trend is to wear long shorts that have a high waist band, like the 'half way up the chest style' of Sir Patrick Moore, but referees will only count true low blows as dangerous.

And the the winner is...

The winner is determined in a number of ways:

  • If a fighter is knocked down (any part of his body, other than his feet, touching the floor) and stays down for a whole ten seconds, then the winner is the fighter who landed the knock-out blow. In some fights, being knocked down for a third time in one round counts as a knock-out.

  • If the referee deems that a boxer is unable to continue, either due to injury or because they are unable or unwilling to defend themselves, then he stops the fight and the fight is awarded to the other boxer. The referee may also disqualify a fighter for serious breaches of the rules.

  • If the fight doctor or a fighter's corner deem that a fighter cannot continue, then his opponent is awarded the match. A fighter's corner throws in a towel to signal that they want to withdraw their fighter. Some governing bodies do not allow the corner to withdraw their fighters.

  • Sometimes a fighter will refuse to come out of their corner at the start of a round. This forfeits the match.

  • If both fighters are still standing at the end of the bout, then it goes down to points:

    • In amateur fights, like the Olympics, fighters gain points by landing hits on parts of their opponent with the white sections of their gloves. Various judges are seated around the ring, so they all have different view points, and have buttons for each boxer. When they see a hit, they press the button. If two judges score a hit within a second or so, then the fighter gets a point.

    • In professional fights, the boxers are awarded a maximum of ten points per round. If you are deemed to have won the round by the judges (in some fights, the referee counts as one of the judges), then you get ten points, and your opponent gets nine. If the round is drawn, both fighters get ten. Points are taken off for being knocked down and if the referee penalises a fighter for breaking the rules. At least two judges have to consider you the winner for you to win the fight.

    • A variation on this is the Las Vegas scoring system, in which the points may not have any relation to the fight, but reflect what would please Don King the most. An example of this was the March 1999 Heavyweight World Championship bout between Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield. It is worth stating that nobody has ever claimed anything outside of the rules went on here, and such rulings are not confined to Las Vegas: fighters all around the world have been victims of appalling officials.

If the bout is stopped before the end, then it counts on the winner's record as a knockout.


There are a limited number of things a boxer can do in the ring. The main ones are moving, guarding and punching. Other things include hugging, taunting and show boating. Despite Mike Tyson's attempts, eating your opponent is not allowed. Deliberate head-butts are also not allowed, but it is common for there to be a clash of heads. This can open up a cut, which can lead to the fight being stopped. If the butt was accidental, then the match is either declared a no-contest (if the fight has not been going long) or goes to the judges' points cards for a winner.


It isn't that normal for two boxers to stand toe to toe with each other and just hit; boxers move around the ring to get a better angle on their opponent or to force them into a corner.

Generally, the amount and style of movement of a fighter defines their boxing style:

  • Boxers, or Out-fighters tend to stay out of harm's way and then come in to launch an attack. They use their mobility to find the best opportunity to get in and get out again. Dancers are an extreme form who tend to wear their opponents out by making full use of the ring. Muhammad Ali is an example of an Out-fighter.

  • In-fighters are the opposite: they try and move as close in as possible to their opponents and hit them with lots of close in shots. These fighters are generally smaller and more compact. Ricky Hatton is an in-fighter.

  • Brawlers and Sluggers like George Foreman don't rely on movement, preferring to have a firm base to launch their powerful punches.


It isn't nice when people hit you, especially when that person has spent the last couple of months in the gym training to hit you! To avoid the pain, boxers have guards positions, covering their heads or their bodies with their hands.

Other ways of avoid being hurt are dodging, bobbing and weaving. These all mean getting out of the way of an incoming fist. Running away isn't an option; it tends to annoy the fans and the referee.


You can't win a fight without punching. In fact, if you refuse to throw a punch, the referee should stop the fight, although strictly enforcing that rule would mean that half the British Heavyweight Championship bouts would never have a victor. The big problem with throwing a punch is that you have to be in range of the other fighter and have to let your guard down, and be vulnerable to a 'counterpunch'. Some boxers specialise in using their fast hand speed to wait until a punch is being thrown to attack with a well aimed punch to a vulnerable spot.

Punching takes energy, and a tactic can be to let your opponent wear themselves out punching, then to launch an attack; this tactic, which Ali called Rope-a-dope, does rely on you being able to take a lot of punches.

Punches to the body tend to wind or wear out the opponent, whereas punches to the head may lead to a knock out. Punching to the face may open up cuts; if these can't be closed, the referee will stop the fight. A boxer's fist can land with tremendous force and it is not uncommon for a heavy punch to break bones, be it ribs or the boxer's own hand.

You have to punch with a closed fist and land with the front of the fist, not the side or the wrist.

Boxers don't stand with their bodies facing each other directly. They turn to one side - for right-handed players, this is to the right, giving the more powerful right hand, known as the 'rear hand', room to build up speed in a punch. The weaker left hand is closer to the other boxer, and is used mainly for defence. It is known as the 'lead hand'. Left-handed fighters, called 'southpaws', do everything the other way around.

There are four main types of punches:

  • The Jab is the most common punch. It is a low power hit from the lead hand. Jabs are used to gauge distance, keep opponents at arm's length or just to annoy. A jab can be the start of a combination with a cross.

  • The Uppercut on the other end of the scale is the most powerful shot. It is a rising punch that should land under an opponent's chin. It is normally thrown from the rear hand.

  • The Hook is a powerful shot from the lead hand aiming at either the side of the head or the ribs and liver. A boxer can swivel their torso to get as much power into the punch as they can.

  • The Cross is thrown from the rear hand. In an orthodox fighter it is often called the 'straight right'.

Southpaw fighters are notoriously awkward for orthodox fighters as all the punches are coming from 'the wrong side'. This can mean that such fighters are avoided when fights are being arranged, partly because the right handers don't want to fight them and partly because the fights aren't always great events. Many fighters can switch between the orthodox stance and the southpaw stance to get an advantage on their rival.

Punches are not allowed to the kidneys, back or the back of the head and neck.


The bane of the spectator is the clinch. This is where one boxer will wrap his arms around the other. This isn't a moment of shared male bonding in the middle of the heat of battle, it is normally because one of the fighters is out of breath or was getting hurt and he wants a pause. The referee then has to step in and separate the two fighters, who will, within seconds, be back in cuddling again. You are not allowed to hit while in a clinch and must step away before you hit again. This rule is often ignored by boxers.

Taunting and Show-boating

While these tactics really don't add much technically to the fight, they add a lot to the entertainment. Ali was well known for his showing off; it was part of his reputation. Prince Naseem Hammed was also known for his style, taunting his rival and walking around with his guard down, relying on his speed to avoid punches. When hit by a stinging blow, fighters will often grin and make like they haven't been hurt; this is a sure sign that your last cross has shaken them and their legs are voting whether or not to collapse.

A Weighty Issue

While the idea of sticking a small guy in with a giant might appeal in the circus, in organised boxing, the boxers are split into weight divisions. In general, the heavier the division, the harder the punches and the less mobile the fighters.

Before a match, fighters will normally be heavier than the weight limit and train down to the weight in the week preceding the fight. A title fight must be between boxers of the same weight division, so boxers and their trainers have to make sure that they can get down to size before weigh-in. They also have to be above the limit of the weight below. Heavyweights don't have to meet any upper limit, which may explain why Danny Williams turns up for fights as a 20-stone blimp. Boxers are free to move up and down divisions as they want. As fighters grow older, they tend to go up in weights as they find it harder to lose poundage.

Amateur and women's boxing have their own set of divisions, but this Entry will concentrate on the Professional divisions. The original Heavyweight and Lightweight were later split into eight traditional weights, and in recent times have ended up at 17 divisions. We will list all 17 here1.

  • Strawweight as it is called by the WBC or Mini Flyweight (IBF/WBO) or Minimumweight (WBA) is the lightest of the weights, with fighters coming in at less than 105 lbs (47.7kg). It was first established in 1987.

  • Light Flyweight as the WBA and WBC call it or Junior Flyweight (WBO/IBF) has a maximum weight of 108 lbs (49kg). Although the New York Walker Law2 recognised it in 1920, it was not sanctioned by the WBC until 1975.

  • Flyweight is one of the traditional 8 weights. Its limit is 112 lbs (50.8kg).

  • Super Flyweight (WBA/WBC) or Junior Bantamweight (WBO/IBF) is for fighters of less than 115 lbs (52.2kg) . This was one of the weights devised under the Walker Law. It is also called Light Bantamweight (in general, Americans use the word Junior, the British use Light).

  • The Bantamweight limit has risen from 105 to 118 lbs (47.7 to 53.6kg) over the years. It is one of the traditional boxing weights. It is one of the lightest divisions that modern British fighters have seen success in with boxers like Wayne McCullough.

  • Super Bantamweight (WBA/WBC) or Junior (Light) Featherweight is the 122 lbs (55.2kg) division. It was sanctioned by the WBC in 1976.

  • Featherweight, the 126 lbs (57.3kg) division was the one that in 1995 saw 'Prince' Naseem Hamed take the WBO world title in his first fight at that weight3. His explosive, theatrical style brought attention to the lower weights in Britain and was a pioneer for British Asians in boxing. This was also the division that, in Barry McGuigan, produced a man who bridged both sides of the troubles in Northern Ireland.

  • Super Featherweight as it is known by the WBA/WBC or Junior Lightweight (WBO/IBF) comes in at 130 lbs (59kg).

  • Lightweight was one of the first two divisions. Originally it was for anybody under 160 lbs (72.7kgs). It currently is for fighters under 135 lbs (61.4kg).

  • Super Lightweight or Light (Junior) Welterweight comes in at 140 lbs (63.3kg). At the time of writing, this was dominated by British fighters, with Junior Witter and Gavin Rees holding two the the major titles and Ricky Hatton having held titles in the division.

  • Welterweight at 147 lbs (66.8kg) is arguably the optimum mix of speed and power. 'Sugar' Ray Robinson was king of this division (and to many, the greatest boxer ever), and to much of the same extent was 'Sugar' Ray Leonard. Leonard went on to fight up to Light Heavyweight. Welterweight is one of the traditional weights.

  • Super Welterweight or Light (Junior) Middleweight has a maximum limit of 154 lbs (70kg). Floyd Mayweather Junior, one of the most loathsome men to strap on gloves, 'retired' as a Light Middleweight Champion in 2007 having beaten 'Golden Boy' Oscar De La Hoya.

  • Middleweight, the 160 lbs (72.7kg) division saw possibly the greatest three rounds of boxing ever when 'Marvellous' Marvin and Thomas 'Hit Man' Hearns met. Two of the greatest British fighters of all time, Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank, started their rivalry in this division before going up a weight. It was also home to Bernard Hopkins, who ruled the division for a decade. It is another of the traditional weights.

  • Super Middleweight, which some people call Junior Light Heavyweight, sees fighters up to 168 lbs (76.4kg) in weight. For the last decade, this has been dominated by British fighters, with Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank making way for Steve Collins, Robin Read and Joe Calzaghe.

  • Light Heavyweight, the 175 lbs (79.5kg) division is arguably the heaviest division where there are currently credible boxers. It is one of the traditional weights, but is often only a stepping stone to the top weight. Roy Jones Junior was one of the major champions at this weight.

  • Cruiserweight, which the WBO refer to as Junior Heavyweight is for fighters under 200 lbs (90.9kg). It only appeared in its current form in 1979, then for fighters up to 190 lbs (86.2kg). It has gradually grown to its current limit. Being a fairly new division, it doesn't have the glory of some of the other weights and is often skipped over by people heading straight for the money in the Heavyweight league.

  • Heavyweight is the home for fighters over 200 lbs (90.9kg). It is the indisputable star attraction in world terms, home to the biggest names and the biggest prizes. Household names like Rocky Marciano, Muhammad Ali, George Foreman4, Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis, and Frank Bruno are all Heavyweights. While some heavyweight fights are classics, they often are reduced to two giants hugging each other for 12 rounds (See Micheal Sprott v Matt Skelton) and it is a general consensus that as of 2007, the Heavyweight scene is the weakest it has been for years. The lure of the division is that it only takes one good hit to win a fight. Because of there being no upper limit, Heavyweight fighters come in a range of shapes and sizes, from Tyson who was under 6 foot tall to the Nikolai Valuev, the Russian World Champion, who was over 7 foot tall and weighed 330 lbs (150kg).


The aim of most professional fighters is to win a title. Thankfully, there are hundreds of titles that can be won.

Most titles are awarded by sanctioning bodies. They operate a ranking system, whereby the winner of a fight moves up the rankings. On occasion, the champion has to fight a mandatory defence against the top ranked challenger; if they fail to do this, they vacate their title. Titles tend to be awarded with belts. Unless you are really into your impractical bling, don't use them to hold your trousers up.

A fighter in London can win, on their way up, a regional title, the English title, the British title, the European Union title, the European title and the Commonwealth title. The British title, awarded by the British Boxing Board of Control, is known as the Lonsdale Belt and is the oldest award in boxing. If you make two title defences, you get to keep your own gold and porcelain decorated Lonsdale belt. Most other boxing nations have a range of regional, national and continental titles to win.

There is no need to win a lesser title before going on to a greater one. For example, titles like the English title are often skipped in favour of a British or Commonwealth belt.

The Intercontinental belt is offered by most sanctioning bodies and is a kind of second division world title. An Intercontinental belt offered by a major sanctioning body is often more prestigious than a world title from one of the lesser bodies.

Major Sanctioning Bodies

Now here is where the fun begins. The World Boxing Association, WBA, was the major sanctioning body. It grew out of the National Boxing Association in 1962. If you held the WBA belt, then you were the World Champion at that weight. No question.

In 1963, a group of representatives from 11 countries met up in Mexico City and formed the World Boxing Council.

In 1983, Bob Lee wanted to be made president of the WBA. He wasn't elected and so formed his own sanctioning body, the International Boxing Federation or IBF. Larry Holmes's long running defence of the inaugural heavyweight belt led to it being counted as a major belt. Bob Lee ended up in prison following a federal investigation into corruption in the IBF in the late 1990s.

The holder of all three major belts is normally called the undisputed World Champion. To become one is extremely difficult. You would think that all you would need to do is stick two people in a ring and give them a load of money. This is where boxing politics comes into it.

Some fighters won't fight others, perhaps due to clashes of style, perhaps because they are afraid. Some promoters won't deal with some fighters. Some promoters and fighters have TV rights deals that conflict with other fighters and promoters. Meanwhile, a sanctioning body demands that its World Champion takes on their top challengers. Of course, each sanctioning body's ranking list is totally different from every other body's, so a World Champion for the WBA is not likely to appear in the IBF rankings.

Another problem that fighters have is that many will not fight abroad. If they are assured of a full arena of partisan fans, then why travel? Concerns over the impartiality of judges at partisan venues can easily be justified by looking at results from Las Vegas or Germany. An unwillingness to fight outside their own country may mean a boxer isn't well known enough in America to attract a large purse5 to justify a big name fighter wanting to take them on. Money issues can also scupper a fight, and it is often the case that a big name fighter can get more money from losing a fight than their lesser known opponent gets for winning it!

If you have, somehow, managed to not only retain your own major belt, but pick up the other two majors, while taking on the mandatory challengers and negotiating the minefield of fight contracts, you now have to keep the belt. This is also extremely difficult as each belt has its own set of mandatory challengers, and failing to take on one will mean vacating that belt. The vacant belt will be awarded to the winner of a play-off fight between two top ranked contenders.

If you beat a holder of two belts, you may not actually win them. Sometimes only one belt is put up for the winner.

Because of the extreme complication in actually getting a fight worked out, some of the best boxers in a weight division don't hold major belts. An example is Ricky Hatton who at times has had to give up his major belts to fight what he regards as the top fighters in his division.

The Alphabet Soup

Don't make me laugh! It's the WBF belt - I heard they are giving them away with five litres of petrol down at Texaco - Herbie Hide, former two-times WBO Heavyweight Champion.

As well as there being three major belts, all claiming that their champion is the best in the world, there are a host of lesser belts. Many of these are hardly recognised by the majority of the boxing press. Fighters may win one as a stepping stone to another title, but they are hardly worthy of adoration. Winning a national or continental belt is often a much harder prospect and more prestigious. The list of these pointlessly confusing belts is long and rather confusing.

The World Boxing Organisation (WBO) is the best recognised of the lesser belts. It was established in 1988. One claim to fame of the WBO is that Super Middleweight, Darrin Morris, moved up from number 7 to number 5 in their rankings despite him being dead!

The World Boxing Foundation (WBF), which was the World Boxing Federation until 2004, was formed in 1988. Audley Harrison was heavyweight champion for a while until he swapped it for some football stickers and a bag of jelly babies.

The International Boxing Association (IBA), which started in the 1990s was one of the first to recognise women boxers at world level.

The International Boxing Organisation (IBO) has a habit of awarding its belts to winners of other belts. That means that its list of current and previous champions includes Lennox Lewis, Roy Jones Jr., Bernard Hopkins, Floyd Mayweather, and Ricky Hatton. It has a computerised ranking system based on all the fights a boxer has had recently, so its rankings are a reasonable representation of each division.

Pretty much any combination of letters starting with I, W or even G (Global) and featuring a B and another letter will lead you to a two-bit sanctioning body. From the World Boxing Empire (WBE) to the Global Boxing Union (GBU), you will find a load of these organisations that are so poorly regarded that most of their world titles remain unclaimed.

The growing number of these bodies serves only to distract from and dilute attention given to the proper champions.

History of the Sweet Science

Many ancient cultures had their own variations of the Sport. For the Greeks, it was an Olympic Sport, where fighters were naked except for wrapping around their hands. Greek legends tell of the sport having its origins in a sport where the competitors sat opposite each other and hit one another until one died.

From Egypt to China, the simple sport was around in one form or another. Like most sports of the day, its origins on the battlefield are obvious. Just like who can run the quickest or who could throw the javelin the furthest, it was another measure of who was the greatest warrior.

The Romans enjoyed the sport, but it was eventually banned in Roman Society. While the sport simmered around the fringes of polite society for the next thousand years or so, it was not till the 17th Century that the first documented fight was recorded. The Duke of Albemarle set up a fight between his butler and his butcher in 1681. Employment health and safety rules were more lax then.

Bare-knuckle fights were becoming more popular. In 1743 Jack Boughton introduced his London Prize Ring Rules in response to a fight two years earlier when he killed an opponent. During this time it was still possible to throw your opponent. Fights had an unlimited amount of rounds, which could be of any length. A round only ended when a fighter was downed. They then had 30 seconds to get up and another 8 seconds to reach the 'scratch mark'. This is where we get our phrase 'to come up to scratch'. As the fights progressed, fighters tended to go down at the slightest hit in order to get the 30 seconds rest!

The London Prize Ring Rules also provided guidance for who would win if the police stopped the fight or if there was a riot.

1867 saw the Marquess of Queensberry rules introduced. This saw the 24-ft ring, the 3-minute round and more importantly, the introduction of gloves. Modern rules are mainly based on the Marquess of Queensberry rules.

Who is Who in Boxing

Obviously boxing is not just about two people in a ring smacking each other, there are lots of other people involved in the sport.


The referee's job is to ensure a fair fight. He breaks up clinches, warns fighters about their conduct and, when needed, can dock points or even disqualify a fighter. He will occasionally remind the boxers that the paying fans want a good fight.

The other main duty of the referee during a bout is to ensure each fighter's safety. If he deems that a fighter is not able or willing to fight on, he will stop the fight. He will also stop it if a boxer has taken too may hits without returning a punch.

When a fighter is knocked down, the other boxer is told to move to the furthest neutral corner, that is a corner that isn't one that one of the boxers fights out of. The downed fighter is given a count of ten to get up. If they don't get up, then it is a knock-out. If a fighter gets up, they are normally still given a standing eight count for the referee to be satisfied that they can carry on.

If a referee thinks that a fighter has slipped or was pushed down then he signals this to the judges so that they do not knock off points. At the end of the fight, the judges' score cards, together with the referee's where applicable, are collated and the referee raises the hand of the winner.

A boxing referee normally wears a white formal shirt with a bow-tie, making them some of the best dressed sporting officials around.


The three judges who score professional fights are appointed by the sanctioning body. For world title fights, the judges should be from neutral countries. For non-world title fights, the judges can be anybody. Like in any sport, judges can come up with bizarre and inexplicable verdicts, even when Don King is not around; having three of them minimises the chances that this affects the actual result.

Corner Men

A fighter boxes out of a corner, normally the red or blue corner. At the break between rounds, there is a group of guys, led by the trainer, who have to get him ready for the next round.

The trainer, who having seen the man he has coached for the past decade ignore his fight plan for the last few minutes, spends the break explaining in short words and expletives exactly what his fighter has to do in the next round. Sometimes trainers forget the short words and just use expletives.

Other corner men roles include:

  • Giving the boxer water.
  • Putting out the bucket for the boxer to spit out the water.
  • Being the cutman, which involves using grease and a small iron to stop cuts from bleeding and lumps from swelling.
  • Putting the stool down for the fighter to sit on.
  • Looking like they are doing something vital but instead are just there to make the fighter look like he has a lot of people in his corner.


The manager has the job of telling the fighter how great he is and managing the fighter's business arrangements.

The Promoter

Promoters make fights. They contact managers and other promoters to get boxers on a billing. They deal with TV rights and the media to try and get as much money for the boxers as possible. Promoters often have a roster of fighters and a set of television broadcasters that they work with.

Don King

Don King, the convicted killer and vocal supporter of George W Bush, is the most famous and successful boxing promoter of all time. With his trademark 'finger in a 120 volt socket' hair style and his natural flair for the dramatic, he is probably a bigger name than anybody else in the sport, with the obvious exception of Ali.

From masterminding the Ali fights known as the 'Rumble in the Jungle' and the 'Thriller in Manila' to managing the careers of Mike Tyson and Bernard Hopkins, he has been at the forefront of boxing for decades. Of course, being so successful, he has become surrounded with controversy. Some fighters will have nothing to do with him and others regard his dealings with suspicion.


The Master of Ceremonies is the public face of each show. Before each bout on the bill, he introduces the fighters, they make their way to the ring accompanied by lots of music and a load of tough looking men holding belts or just looking mean, the MC says a bit about them, introduces the referee and shouts 'let's get ready to rumble...'. Then the referee goes through the final instructions and the match starts.


Believe it or not, there are people who are either stupid enough or drunk enough to think they can take on a Professional Boxer if they see him in the street. Having a crew of tough looking guys around them deters people from trying to attack a boxer. Bodyguards also come in handy if you want to get more publicity for your fight by causing a rumpus at the weigh in.

A Worldwide Sport

Because of its different weight categories, boxing is not a sport where there is a stereotypical body size. This means that a wide range of people participate. At the lighter weights, Latin Americans and Asians from a martial arts background feature strongly. In countries like Great Britain and the United States, boxing was often a way out of a life on the streets. Learning to box helped potential gang members to find discipline and to channel their aggressive tendencies. This is often used to explain why there are so many black fighters, desperate to find a way to a better life via the 28-ft ring.

There are a number of boxers of Asian descent coming to the forefront. Fighters like Naseem Hamed and Sinan Samil Sam are paving the way for Amir Khan and his peers. Some of the same reasoning behind the rise in black boxers can be applied to the new generation of Asian boxers. Perhaps fighting is an opportunity to make a load of cash and set themselves up for life. Boxing could also be a way to avoid the gang culture in some of the immigrant communities in some big cities.

With the fall of the Iron curtain, there has been a rise in fighters from the former Eastern block. At the time of writing, the four top Heavyweight belts were held by fighters from former Communist countries. How many of these were inspired by Dolph Lundgren in Rocky IV?

Interestingly, for one country, boxing is almost a national sport, yet none of its fighters compete in the professional ranks. Professional boxers are not allowed by Cuba's government. Instead, their fighters are some of the best in the amateur ranks, much better than many professionals. In the 2004 Olympics, out of the 11 weights, Cubans took home five golds, two silvers and a bronze, only missing medals at Light Heavyweight and Middleweight.

Boxing is an inclusive sport, offering opportunities to people of any size and of any race.

Women's Boxing

Women's boxing, illegal in many countries, is a growing sport. Sweden was one of the pioneering countries, licensing fights from 1988. The first British Amateur fight was between two 16-year-olds in 1997. Muhammed Ali's daughter, Laila Ali, made her debut in 1999, bringing more coverage to the sport. She took after her father and became a multiple6 World Champion at Super Middleweight. Fighters like Laila and other daughters of previous world champions have helped the sport gain publicity.


Every so often, a fighter is seriously injured during a fight. Since the aim of a fight is to knock out your opponent, there is always the chance of concussion or brain damage. Over the years, the sport has done its best to cut down on these tragic events, but they still occur.

Fights have been shortened, and more emphasis has been placed on stopping the fight if a fighter's health is at risk.

What causes the major injuries? Every time your head is hit, it is knocked backwards. Inside your head, your brain is smacked against the inside of your skull. Repeated head shots result in your brain being knocked left, right and centre.

So what about head guards? Amateur fighters wear head guards that protect against the pain of head shots. In fact, because head guards allow you to take more punches to the head, they prolong the damage that your brain takes in a fight.

Some people have suggested that a return to bare-knuckle boxing would lead to less brain injuries. Without the cushioning of gloves, boxers throw fewer punches and lighter, and aim for the softer body area.

Compared with other 'dangerous' sports such as motorbike racing, horse racing and sky diving, fatalities from boxing are low. Most professional fighters who have had long careers, however, suffer from brain-related problems in later life.

1At this point, we will encounter the real problem in boxing, the hideous amount of boxing sanctioning bodies. These guys, who we will talk about later, are the people who award the titles. In many cases, they can't even agree on what to call each weight division.2A law that re-legalised boxing in the United States.3Somehow he was the number one ranked challenger in a division he hadn't boxed in.4No, he doesn't just invent weird grill things that remove all the fat and taste from food.5No, not like that, we mean a large enough prize for fighting.6Yes, there are loads of sanctioning bodies for women's boxing as well. Not only do some of the men's bodies award women's titles, but there are some women-only bodies too.

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