Man has been boxing for thousands of years (see main boxing article here). Olympic boxing was part of the ancient Greek Olympic games in the later stages of the 7th century BC. Olympic Boxing is governed by The Association Internationale de Boxe Amateur (AIBA), now known as The Association Internationale de Boxe (AIBA – still keeps the A at the end of the abbreviation).
In modern Olympics it wasn’t introduced until the 1904 St. Louis, Missouri, USA Games. This was because Athens had deemed boxing too dangerous. It has been at every Olympic games since, with the exception of the 1912 Stockholm games, due to it not being a legal sport in Sweden at the time.
Headguards were made compulsory in 1984 and an electronic scoring system was introduced in 1992. Women’s boxing was first introduced at the London 2012 Olympic games. Headguards were no longer compulsory for the men’s games at the 2016 Rio Olympics, as well as a change from the electronic scoring system to a 10 point scoring system.
Olympic boxers need to qualify through regional qualifying tournaments and are paired in no particular order, however they are divided into weight classes (see below). Men’s boxing rounds are 3 x 3 minute rounds, while women’s are 4 x 2 minute rounds. There is a referee in the ring with 5 judges at the side of the ring, who award scoring points.
Olympic Boxing Weight Classes
46 – 49 kg (Light Fly weight)
Up to 52 kg (Fly weight)
Up to 56 kg (Bantam weight)
Up to 60 kg (Light weight)
Up to 64 kg (Light Welter weight)
Up to 69 kg (Welter weight)
Up to 75 kg (Middle weight)
Up to 81 kg (Light Heavy weight)
Up to 91 kg (Heavy weight)
+ 91kg (super heavyweight)
48 to 51 kg (Fly weight)
57 to 60 kg (Light weight)
69 to 75 kg (Middle weight)
Belt-line – An imaginary line from the navel to the top of the hips, below which opposing boxers are not allowed to hit.
Bout – The boxing contest.
Break – A referee’s order for boxers to step back and separate if they are in a clinch.
Caution – What a referee gives a boxer for an infringement. 3 cautions gets an automatic warning.
Clinch – This is when a boxer/boxers hold on to each other to make it difficult to get punched. Holds are similar, but can include holding the other boxers arms.
Count – Where the referee counts up to 10 when a boxer is knocked down A knockout is declared if the boxer can’t get to their feet before the 10 count.
Foul – An illegal move, such as hitting below the belt or holding.
Knockout – Where a boxer fails to get back up during a 10 count and is also said to be ‘out for the count’.
Mandatory eight-count – Is an 8 second count from when a downed boxer gets back to his feet. This allows the referee time to access if the boxer can continue.
RSC/RSCH (referee stops the contest) – Where the referee discontinues the bout if a boxer is deemed to be out matched (outclassed) or is unfit to continue.
Saved by the bell – When a boxer is being counted out, but it’s the end of the round before they are counted out (only in the final round of the final at the Olympic Games).
Scoring hit – Where points are given for a clean hit in the target area’s.
Southpaw – A left handed boxer (stands with right foot and hand forward).
Throw in the towel – where the corner throws in the towel to end the fight, if they feel their fighter is no longer able to continue fighting or being out matched.
Warning – A notice from the referee when a boxer has committed a rule infringement. 3 warnings will get the boxer disqualified.
Olympic Boxing Years
1904 – (men Only)
1908 – (men Only)
1912 – (wasn’t a legal sport in host country)
1916 – (cancelled due to WW1)
1920 – (men Only)
1924 – (men Only)
1928 – (men Only)
1932 – (men Only)
1936 – (men Only)
1940 – (cancelled due to WW2)
1944 – (cancelled due to WW2)
1948 – (men Only)
1952 – (men Only)
1956 – (men Only)
1960 – (men Only)
1964 – (men Only)
1968 – (men Only)
1972 – (men Only)
1976 – (men Only)
1980 – (men Only)
1984 – (men Only)
1988 – (men Only)
1992 – (men Only)
1996 – (men Only)
2000 – (men Only)
2004 – (men Only)
2008 – (men Only)
2012 – (Men and Women)
2016 – (Men and Women)
2020 – (Men and Women)
Equipment used in Olympic Boxing Events
Ring – 6.1m x 6.1m and 1.32m high ropes
Headguard (no longer compulsory from 2016)
Singlet (blue/red vest)