Boxing is one of the most basic and oldest sports in existence. Two people (usually men) fight each other with their fists until one of them is knocked out cold and the other is unconscious. By including an extensive historical backdrop, an assortment of outlandish personalities, an invigorating dash of controversy and corruption, and the ever-present possibility of glory or tragedy, you have something far more compelling than a simple test of strength and will.
Here, we’ll look at the fundamentals of boxing, including how to win and lose, the ranks and divisions of the sport as well as titles, the science behind the sport, boxing history, and the dangers of the sport.
A boxing match is not the same as a bar brawl or a street brawl. There are rules in place to determine a winner, keep the match interesting for the audience, and reduce the likelihood of serious injury to the boxers during the fight. The rules of amateur (Olympic) boxing differ from those of professional boxing, and even between different professional boxing organisations in some respects. Prior to a major match, a rules meeting is held in which all of the rules that are specific to the upcoming match are discussed and explained in detail.
In terms of design, the boxing ring itself is a raised, square platform with a canvas surface over approximately one-inch of padding on all four sides. Flexible ropes encircle the ring, which is secured to steel posts at each of its four corners with bolts. The exact dimensions of the ring are determined by the organisation that has sanctioned the fight in question. Rings in smaller venues can only be 16 feet on either side, whereas Olympic boxing allows rings to be up to 20 feet in circumference. Rings up to 25 feet in length are permitted by a few professional organisations.
The goal of a boxer is to knock his opponent to the ground, stun him so severely that he is unable to get to his feet before the referee counts to ten minutes. It’s called a knockout (KO) and it results in victory for the boxer who is still standing after the knockout. Upon knocking down his opponent, a boxer must retreat to a neutral corner, rather than one of the corners where the boxers’ trainers are waiting to assist them between rounds.
If the knocked-down boxer is able to get to his feet quickly enough, the referee (the only person permitted in the ring other than the boxers) checks on him to make sure he’s okay and capable of defending himself, and the fight continues. Occasionally, the rules specify that an eight count is required. That is, even if the boxer jumps to his feet immediately, the referee requires him to wait until the count of eight has been completed before returning to the ring. If a boxer is knocked down three times in a single fight, the result is a technical knockout, according to some rules systems (TKO). This is usually recorded as a knockout on the boxer’s record who wins the fight. It is also possible for a TKO to occur if the referee, ringside doctor, boxer’s trainer, or the boxer himself determines that he is too injured to continue the fight.
Counting “scoring punches” — punches delivered with the knuckle side of the fist and landing on the opponent’s body (above the belt) or head — is the primary method of determining who won a round in mixed martial arts. Olympic judges use a device to keep track of who lands the most scoring punches in a given round of competition. Fouls are also recorded and have an impact on the final score (when a boxer commits a foul, his opponent is given two extra punches for the round). A professional boxing match can be more difficult to judge because of the subjective nature of the sport. The judges may count punches, but they also consider aggression, control of the ring, control of the tempo of the fight, and the amount of damage inflicted on the opponent. The judges could very well award the round to the blue boxer if, for example, the red boxer lands a dozen good jabs in a round but his opponent, the blue boxer, nails him with two hard hooks late in the round that cause him to become dazed and staggered, as in the example above. In fact, in such a situation, different judges may award different scores to the round.