Boxing, fistfighting sport between two matched combatants wearing padded gloves. A boxer’s primary aim is to land as many blows as possible to the head and torso of the opponent, using strength and speed to dominate the contest. One of the oldest sports still practiced, boxing dates back thousands of years. Today the sport is popular in many parts of the world and encompasses both amateur and professional matches. Sometimes it is referred to as pugilism, from the Latin word pugil, meaning “a boxer.”
Boxing Sometimes called “the sweet science,” the sport of boxing requires agility, strength, toughness, and lightning-quick reflexes.Courtesy of ESPN Sports. All rights reserved.
Mike Tyson American boxer Mike Tyson, left, connects with a jab against Frank Bruno, right, during their 1989 bout in Las Vegas, Nevada. The youngest fighter to win a world heavyweight title, Tyson unified all three major championships in 1985, establishing an impressive record of 37 wins, no losses and 33 knockouts. The later years of his career were more troubled, including a 1992 rape conviction that sent him to prison for three years and a suspension for biting off part of Evander Holyfield’s ear in a 1997 title bout.
Sugar Ray Leonard Shown here in a 1987 bout against Marvin Hagler (in dark trunks), American boxer Sugar Ray Leonard (in white trunks) became the first professional fighter to win world championships in five different weight classes. Before turning professional in 1977, Leonard amassed an impressive amateur record of 145 wins and 5 losses, winning a gold medal at the 1976 Olympic Games.
For most of the 20th century boxing attracted huge fan and media attention in the United States. Some boxing champions became legendary, larger-than-life figures, such as Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Sugar Ray Robinson, Muhammad Ali, and Mike Tyson. Criticized to varying degrees throughout its history for its violent nature and high injury rate, boxing has somehow always managed to survive—and even thrive—as a sport.
GREAT MOMENTS IN SPORTS
Original Boxing Rules
In mid-19th-century Britain, prizefighting was a bloody, rough-and-tumble sport popular with society’s lower classes. Hoping to improve the sport’s social standing, a young boxing enthusiast named John Graham Chambers drew up a new set of bout regulations. To give the new rules added legitimacy, Chambers enlisted the support of John Sholto Douglas, the 8th marquess of Queensberry, who published them in 1867. These regulations, which included the mandatory use of padded gloves and time limits on rounds, came to be known as the Marquess of Queensberry Rules. Modern boxing is based in large part on these 12 rules.
Modern boxing regulations are based upon the 12 rules set out by British boxing officials in the mid-19th century. These rules became known as the Marquess of Queensberry Rules, named for the 8th Marquess of Queensberry, John Sholto Douglas, who sponsored and published them. In addition to in-the-ring rules, modern boxing also has specific regulations regarding eligibility for the fighters themselves. Sanctioning bodies can bar boxers from competing in a certain jurisdiction for medical reasons or for violating specific rules or codes of conduct.
The modern rules for professional and amateur bouts differ, but both types of contests are divided into time periods, called rounds. In professional bouts each round lasts three minutes; in amateur bouts, two minutes. A one-minute rest period between rounds is standard. Amateur contests consist of three rounds; professional bouts may consist of up to 12 rounds. A bell is usually sounded by a timekeeper to begin and end each round.
A key step in making boxing safer and more respectable was the introduction of gloves, ending brutal bare-knuckle competition. Boxing gloves are heavily padded to soften the impact of the blow and to protect the hands of the boxer. As an added protection, the hands are taped before being placed in the gloves, which are essentially huge mittens. Professional gloves usually weigh between 170 and 226 g (6 and 8 oz); amateur gloves average 226 to 340 g (8 to 12 oz).
All boxing matches take place in the ring, an enclosed area in which the boxers fight. Ordinarily on a raised platform, the ring is surrounded by three ropes supported by posts at each corner. Its floor is padded and covered by canvas for better traction and to protect the head of a boxer in the event of a fall or a knockdown. Sometimes referred to as a squared circle, a boxing ring is actually a square that measures 5.5 to 7.3 m (18 to 24 ft) on each side, depending on the available space. After each round, each fighter returns to a specific corner of the ring, which is diagonally across from the corner of the opponent. The other two corners are called neutral corners.
Modern boxing includes a referee, who is stationed inside the ring and officiates the bout, calling fouls and separating fighters caught in a clinch (hug). Boxing fouls include blows below the belt, blows to the back of the head, kicking, tripping, gouging (such as to the eye), biting, and headbutting. A boxer who commits a foul loses points and may be disqualified for repeated violations. Ringside officials, or judges, score the fight using an established point system.
D Deciding the Winner
Floyd Patterson During the 1956 heavyweight championship bout, American boxer Floyd Patterson watches as his opponent Archie Moore falls to the floor. Patterson won the fight seconds later, in a knockout decision.Huynh Cong/AP/Wide World Photos
A boxing match can be decided in several ways: by disqualification; by knockout (KO), when a fighter is knocked down and cannot get up within ten seconds; by technical knockout (TKO), when a fighter is judged physically unable to continue or does not answer the bell to begin a new round; or, at the end of all scheduled rounds, by decision, using the scores tallied by the ringside judges. Less commonly the scoring officials will declare the fight a draw (tie) or will rule “no contest” and stop the fight if both boxers are not competing adequately. The referee has the authority to count a fighter out or to declare them unfit to continue, often in consultation with a ringside physician.
A successful boxer must have sound training and fundamental techniques. These techniques include stance, punches, feints (fakes), blocks, footwork, and other aspects of the sport sometimes called the “sweet science.” In addition, boxers often employ different strategies during a bout.
Modern training routines differ little from those of earlier times. Fighters still keep trim by working with the heavy bag, a large punching bag suspended from the ceiling, and the speed bag, a smaller bag attached to a swivel at eye level. The heavy bag enables a fighter to practice different kinds of punches while the lighter bag improves timing and coordination. Rope jumping, weightlifting, cardiovascular exercise, sparring (practice fighting) with partners, and distance running are other important training techniques. Fighters have increasingly trained at high-altitude sites to improve their conditioning, especially for high-profile bouts.
While many boxers develop unique styles, they all must have a proper stance and good footwork. These two essentials enable a boxer to maintain balance, whether advancing in an attack or retreating from an opponent. A right-handed boxer positions the left foot about one step in front of the right one and holds the left side of the body in a direct line with the left leg. The left fist, ready to jab or ward off blows, is extended slightly in front of the body at about shoulder level. The right fist should be near the jaw to protect the face or to be driven straight out if needed offensively. The chin should be kept down, tucked into the upper left shoulder. The teeth should be clamped tightly to the mouthpiece so that the mouth is protected in the event of a blow to the face.
C Offensive Techniques
To be effective, boxers must have an assortment of punches that are coordinated with their footwork. Less powerful punches often serve the important role of setting up the fighter’s chief “weapons,” as boxing analysts sometimes call a boxer’s main offensive skills.
Moving the hands or head to confuse an opponent is called feinting. A smart boxer will first test the opponent by trying different feints, noting the reaction to each one before deciding which will be most effective to set up a punch.
C2 Left Jab
The boxer delivers a left jab by striking out with the left arm while the left elbow is straightened sharply. A boxer opens up less with a jab than with many other types of punches. The jab can also ...
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