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History

The earliest records of boxing are from Egypt in 3000BC, while it quickly became one of the cornerstones of the ancient Olympic Games in Greece from the 23rd Olympiad in 688BC. The very first champion was Onomastos Smyrnaios.

In ancient times, boxers protected their hands with leather, but as the Romans adopted the sport and included it in their rosta of too-the-death gladiatorial contests, these were replaced with a glove with metal studs, called a cestus.

The first recorded boxing match was held in England in 1681 with the first bare-knuckle champion declared in 1791, but it was not until several years year, in 1743 that Jack Broughton developed the first set of rules.  It wasn’t until 1867 when what we know as modern boxing began, with amended rules which included the duration of rounds.

 

Olympic History

Boxing is often referred to as one of the oldest and most traditional of sports, its acceptance as an Olympic discipline can be traced back to the ancient Greeks in 688BC.

Modern boxing was then introduced as an Olympic sport in St Louis in 1904 at the III Olympiad with seven weight categories and clean sweep from the US. In 1912 the boxing tournament was cancelled for the Stockholm Games, due to former Swedish law banning the sport at the time. However, following World War I the boxing tournament was once again reinstates at the 1920 Antwerp Olympic Games in Belgium.

An incredible 41 countries have secured at least one Olympic title I boxing events between 1904 and 2008 with the US being the most successful. 

Boxing wasn’t on the itinerary of ancient Olympic sports that made up the first modern Summer Games in Athens, Greece, in 1896 as it was considered "ungentlemanly, dangerous and practiced by the dregs of society".

Its worldwide popularity ensured that it was included in the 1904 Summer Games in St Louis, USA, though. Since then, it has been a regular fixture in the Olympic schedule, producing a number of great champions, including Hungarian Laszlo Papp, Cubans Felix Savon and Teofilo Stevenson and American Paul Eagan, who was also a Winter Games gold medallist in the bobsleigh in 1932.

Probably the most famous of them all, though, was Cassius Marcellus Clay, who won gold in the light heavyweight contest in Rome in 1960, and later went on to become perhaps the greatest professional heavyweight boxer of all time under the name Muhammad Ali.

Technical

Modern Olympic boxing is determined by regulations adapted from the famous ‘Queensberry Rules’. Boxers fight in an elevated ring with a canvas and rubber floor, measuring 6.1m by 6.1m. The sides are marked by four rows of ropes. There are two corners – blue and red – for each opponent to sit in between round. The boxers wear clothing to match the colour of their corner.

As with most combat sports, competitors are divided into weight divisions so that they face-off against opponents of equal size. Because of this, boxers are weighed on the opening day of competition and every day of the tournament to make sure that they aren’t heavier than their division’s permitted maximum.

Contests are scored by five judges, who award points when they feel contact has been made from a targeted punch. Events take place over four rounds of two minutes each. At the end of the match, the boxer with the greatest number of points is the winner. Boxers can also win a match by knocking out their rival.

equipment

Gloves

Boxers wear padded leather gloves, which are standardised and provided by the event’s organisers. They weigh 283 grams and have a white strip – introduced in 1972 – to denote the hitting area. Competitors also have the option to wear bandages under the gloves to provide additional padding.

Protective equipment

Unlike professional boxers, who just wear lightweight thigh-length shorts and boxing shoes, Olympic boxers also have to wear mandatory headguards that protect the sides of the head and the ears, as well as lightweight vests.

Mouthguard

Sometimes called a ‘gumshield’, this is a protective plastic cover that fits over the teeth and gums, as the face is exposed to hits during a match.

rules

Boxers qualify for the Olympics in regional tournaments. They must be at least 17 years old and no older than 34. Before the Olympic Games begin, they are required to undergo a physical and be weighed to determine the weight division that they’ll fight in. They are then weighed every day during the competition to ensure that they don’t exceed their division’s permitted maximum.

Within each division, the opponents for matches are decided by a lottery draw, as in ancient times. Bouts are controlled by a referee and four judges, and last four rounds of two minutes each, with a one-minute break between rounds. During the breaks, boxers sit in their respective corners and can receive help and advice from their coach and corner-man.

Judges award points when a boxer cleanly hits his opponent in the front of the head or on the upper part of the body above the belt line. Modern electronic equipment is used to make sure that at least three of the five judges record the point within a similar space of time. Only then does they count.

Typical punches include straight right and left, sweeping hooks and close-quarter uppercuts. Boxers are only allowed to use their gloves to make contact with their opponents, so using the elbows or head butts is not allowed and ‘holding’ their opponent isn’t allowed. They also have to hit an area above the belt line, and can’t hit the kidneys or behind the head. The referee can caution a boxer for these fouls, and three cautions leads to a disqualification.

At the end of the fourth round, the boxer with the most points wins the bout. If the points are identical, then the best and worst total scores from the five judges are deducted. If a boxer falls to the floor and is unable to get up within eight seconds, this is called a ‘knockdown’. If the boxer can’t get up after 10 seconds, it’s classed as a ‘knockout’ and the bout is over.

Referees can call a halt to a match at any time if they feel the health of one of the athletes is at risk, while a coach can ‘throw in the towel’ and call an end to the match if they’re concerned about the health of their boxer. Matches also end if the score difference between two boxers exceeds 15 points.

Team HeroesEntire Team

Nicola Adams became the first British woman to win a major boxing title with European Championship victory in 2011 while she has won three consecutive silver medals at the World Championships.

She lists Muhammad Ali as one of her all-ti...

Our Results

Total: 54 medals
  • 18 Gold
  • 12 Silver
  • 24 Bronze
London 1908
  • 5 Gold
  • 4 Silver
  • 5 Bronze
Antwerp 1920
  • 2 Gold
  • 1 Silver
  • 3 Bronze
Paris 1924
  • 2 Gold
  • 2 Silver
  • 0 Bronze
Amsterdam 1928
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 0 Bronze
Los Angeles 1932
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 0 Bronze
Berlin 1936
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 0 Bronze
London 1948
  • 0 Gold
  • 2 Silver
  • 0 Bronze
Helsinki 1952
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 0 Bronze
Melbourne 1956
  • 2 Gold
  • 1 Silver
  • 2 Bronze
Rome 1960
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 3 Bronze
Tokyo 1964
  • 1 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 0 Bronze
Mexico City 1968
  • 1 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 0 Bronze
Munich 1972
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 3 Bronze
Montreal 1976
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 1 Bronze
Moscow 1980
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 1 Bronze
Los Angeles 1984
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 1 Bronze
Seoul 1988
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 1 Bronze
Barcelona 1992
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 1 Bronze
Atlanta 1996
  • 0 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 0 Bronze
Sydney 2000
  • 1 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 0 Bronze
Athens 2004
  • 0 Gold
  • 1 Silver
  • 0 Bronze
Beijing 2008
  • 1 Gold
  • 0 Silver
  • 2 Bronze
London 2012
  • 3 Gold
  • 1 Silver
  • 1 Bronze
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