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The exact origins of the sport of boxing are unknown, though some of the earliest evidence comes from Sumerian artifacts found in present-day Iraq, which date back to the 3rd millennium BCE. Boxing was introduced to the ancient Olympic Games in 688 BC, 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. Up until the London Games, only amateur boxers were 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). Since the Rio 2016 Games, professional boxers are also allowed to qualify.

At the end of every round, each of the judges determine a  winner for the round based on the judging criteria and award the victor 10  points for the round. The loser of the round can be awarded anywhere  between seven to nine points based on the level of performance in that round. After the bout ends, each judge adds up the round scores to determine a final winner.

Olympic history

Boxing made its debut at the modern Olympic Games in 1904, and has been contested at every Summer Games since – save for the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm, as Swedish law banned the sport at the time. Women’s boxing was first introduced to the Olympic programme at London 2012. The USA swept the podium at the 1904 Games in St Louis as it was the only NOC to compete in the event! Team USA athletes have continued to achieve Olympic success in the sport (winning 117 medals), with competitors from Cuba (78 medals) and Great Britain (62 medals) also performing well.

Events in 2024

Boxing events will take place between the 27th of July and the 10th of August.

  • Weight categories TBD

Venue in 2024

International organisation

International Olympic Committee (IOC)

© Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

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