A definition

Boxing can be defined as an athletic contest between two persons, each of whom uses the fists to try to knock the other unconscious or to inflict enough punishment to cause the opponent either to quit or to be judged beaten.

A boxing match is conducted under established rules and procedures and has a referee, judges, and timekeeper. The primary aim of each participant is to strike blows to the front of the head and torso of the opponent that will knock down and render the boxer incapable of rising to a standing position and defending himself within ten seconds. Many fights are decided on points scored.

The History

A point system was first established in England by the Amateur Boxing Association. Today several systems are used throughout the world. For many years professional boxing in Britain preferred the 5-point system, but in 1973 adopted the 10-point system which had been used in the United States and elsewhere for some time. The better fighter is given the maximum 10 points in each round, if judged equal then both boxers must be given the maximum. A fighter who loses a round is normally awarded 8 or 9 points. Points are generally awarded for clean hits with the knuckle part of the glove delivered with the clenched fist to any part of the front or sides of the head, or body above the belt. Points are also awarded for good defensive work in guarding, slipping, or ducking. Where contestants are equal in these respects, maximum marks go to the one who is the most aggressive or displays the better technique.

Professional boxing in Britain is scored by the referee. In most other countries, the referee and two judges score the fight and the decision is given on a majority vote. Originally the term prizefighting was used when money was at stake, but the term professional boxing now bears the same meaning. Amateur boxing refers to bouts in which prize money is not at stake. The term pugilism (from Latin pugil, meaning "a boxer") is sometimes used for the sport. In ancient Greece, boxing was a popular sport and was included in the Olympic Games.

In ancient Rome, boxers often wore the cestus, a metal-studded leather hand covering with which they maimed and even killed their opponents, sometimes as part of gladiatorial spectacles. The sport declined in popularity after the fall of the Roman Empire.

The first record of a boxing match in modern times is in England in 1681 when the Duke of Albemarle organized a fight between his butler and his butcher. In the 18th century, boxing was revived in London in the form of bare-knuckle prizefights in which the contestants fought for money and the spectators made wagers on the outcome. The first boxer to be recognized as a heavyweight champion was the Englishman James Figg, in 1719. In 1743 a later champion, John Broughton, formulated a set of rules standardizing some practices and eliminating others, such as hitting opponents when they are down or seizing opponents by the hair. Broughton's rules governed boxing until 1838, when the Original London Prize Ring rules, based on those of Broughton, were devised. Modifications known as the Revised London Prize Ring rules were drawn up in 1853, and they controlled the sport until the end of the 19th century, when the Queensberry rules came into use.

These rules were drafted in 1857 under the auspices of John Sholto Douglas, 8th Marquis of Queensberry. His aim was to emphasize boxing skill rather than wrestling, and agility over strength. The Queensberry rules helped to undo the popular image of boxing as a savage brawl by prohibiting barefist fighting, wrestling, hugging, hitting opponents while they were helpless and fighting to the finish.

Marquis of Queensberry Boxing Rules Governing Contests for Endurance (1865)

  1. To be a fair stand-up boxing match in a 24-foot ring, or as near that size as practicable.
  2. No wrestling or hugging allowed.
  3. The rounds to be of three minutes' duration, and one minute's time between rounds.
  4. If either man falls through weakness or otherwise, he must get up unassisted, 10 seconds to be allowed him to do so, the other man meanwhile to return to his corner, and when the fallen man is on his legs the round is to be resumed and continued until the three minutes have expired. If one man fails to come to the scratch in the 10 seconds allowed, it shall be in the power of the referee to give his award in favour of the other man.
  5. A man hanging on the ropes in a helpless state, with his toes off the ground, shall be considered down.
  6. No seconds or any other person to be allowed in the ring during the rounds.
  7. Should the contest be stopped by any unavoidable interference, the referee to name the time and place as soon as possible for finishing the contest; so that the match must be won and lost, unless the backers of both men agree to draw the stakes.
  8. The gloves to be fair-sized boxing gloves of the best quality and new.
  9. Should a glove burst, or come off, it must be replaced to the refere's satisfaction.
  10. A man on one knee is considered down and if struck is entitled to the stakes.
  11. No shoes or boots with springs allowed.
  12. The contest in all other respects to be governed by revised rules of the London Prize Ring.

Basic Boxing Technique - Attack

Very simply there are four types of punches that can be thrown in a boxing match. These are the jab, cross, hook and upper cut.

The jab is thrown straight forward with the leading hand and is used to probe the defense of the opponent, to keep them at a distance and to wear them down. It is not a knockout punch because there is little weight and therefore little power behind it, it is used primarily in the set-up for harder punches. (The long reach of Lennox Lewis's jab won him his contest against Mike Tyson, a shorter man with a much shorter reach. Tyson couldn't get close enough to use his big hooks and uppercuts and was worn down by the continual harrassment)

The cross, hook and uppercut are most definitely knockout punches if they connect. The cross is similiar to the jab in that it is a straight punch, but is thrown by the trailing hand and so greater force can be put behind it.

The hook is possibly the most powerful punch a boxer has in his arsenal and can be thrown by either hand. The force of a hook is so devastating because of the amount of body mass a boxer can put behind it and also the speed of the punch. A hook is delivered to the side of the opponent’s head and is thus named because of the bending of the elbow. Incidentally the elbow should be at shoulder height throughout the punch.

The uppercut is possibly the least thrown punch because boxers tend not to get close enough to each other to throw one, but if it does land on an opponents chin it's more then likely that they're going to be kissing canvass, again due to the amount of force that can be put behind it.

A boxer takes these four punches and throws them in 'combinations' to try and achieve his ultimate goal of breaking through his opponents defenses.


For each attack there is of course a corresponding defense that involves either blocking, deflecting or simply getting out of the way.

To defend against the jab a boxer can pivot at the hips moving his head from side to side to avoid the punch, he can lean, step back or duck, again to avoid the punch. He can bring his gloves in front of his head to block the punch or he can intercept the punch and parry it off target with his gloves. The same defensive techniques also apply to the cross, as it is straight punch the same as the jab.

To defend against a hook a boxer can bring his gloves and arms up to the sides of his head forming a protective shield, or he can avoid the punch by stepping or leaning back or by ducking the punch.

To defend against an uppercut all a boxer has to do is bring his gloves and forearms to the front of his body to form an impenetrable guard, or he can simply step or lean back.

Simple isn't it, and it's that simplicity which makes for the thrill of the fight, and I don't care what anyone says about it being brutal and savage and wot knot, at it's heart it's about strategy and technique and is akin to a game of chess, although admittedly you cant get hurt playing chess, unless you stick a pawn up your nose and then can't get it out.

In closing, a southpaw fighter is one who is left-handed and so leads with his right hand, or is a right-handed boxer who prefers to lead with his right.

And very finally.

Weight classes:

Strawweight - up to 105 pounds
Light Flyweight - over 105 to 108 pounds
Flyweight - over 108 to 112 pounds
Super Flyweight - over 112 to 115 pounds
Bantamweight - over 115 to 118 pounds
Super Bantamweight - over 118 to 122 pounds
Featherweight - over 122 to 126 pounds
Super Featherweight - over 126 to 130 pounds
Lightweight - over 130 to 135 pounds
Super Lightweight - over 135 to 140 pounds
Welterweight - over 140 to 147 pounds
Super Welterweight - over 147 to 154 pounds
Middleweight - over 154 to 160 pounds
Super Middleweight - over 160 to 168 pounds
Light Heavyweight - over 168 to 175 pounds
Cruiserweight - over 175 to 195 pounds
Heavyweight - all over 195 pounds