The origins of the sport of boxing date back to ancient times. In the late 7th century BC, boxing was introduced to the ancient Olympic Games, where boxers used soft leather thongs to bind their hands and forearms for protection.
Boxing seemed to disappear with the fall of the Roman Empire, before resurfacing in the 17th century in England, where records of amateur boxing began in 1880. Initially, five weight categories were contested – bantam weight (up to 54kg), feather weight (up to 57kg), light weight (up to 63.5kg), middle weight (up to 73kg) and heavy weight (over 73kg).
Brief overview of the rules
Olympic boxing is governed by a special set of rules. Only amateur boxers are allowed to compete, which means the Olympic Games are often the starting point of a glittering career for some of the biggest names in the sport, as was the case with none other than Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali).
Between 1984 and 2012, boxers were required to were a protective helmet, differentiating them from the professionals, but the rule was abandoned for the 2016 Rio Games. Each combat is disputed over three rounds of three minutes for the men, and four rounds of two minutes for women. Boxers are awarded points for each blow successfully landed on authorised parts of their opponent’s body, and the boxer who clocks up the most points wins.
Boxing was rapidly included in the sporting programme for the modern Olympic Games, making its debut at the 1904 Games in St. Louis, where the USA swept the board as it was the only country to compete in the event! Americans continued to dominate the sport, followed closely by the Cubans and the Russians. Since 1904, boxing has been contested at all but one edition of the Olympic Games – the 1912 Stockholm Games, as the sport was illegal in Sweden. Women’s boxing had to wait until 2012 before being included in the programme.
International organisation : International Olympic Committee (IOC)
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