Boxing Rules

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Boxing Rules

Once you’ve got some basic boxing skills under your belt, it’s time to learn the rules of the game. This may seem unimportant, but I’d advise you to listen up because…

You never want to be labelled a dirty fighter.

Whether you’ve intentionally fouled, or it was by accident is beside the point – especially when it comes to being hit in the balls. It’s hard to be forgiving when you’re the victim of a low blow.

If you’re a dirty fighter, everyone you train with will think you’re scum, you’ll have no friends, and even your mum will disown you. Hiding in a basement and wallowing in your shame for the rest of your life is not a bad idea.

A tad extreme?

Yes, but it shows how strongly I (and many others) feel about those who don’t fight fair.

If you’re an experienced boxer, fighting dirty is a sure way to tarnish your reputation and lose fans.

Mike Tyson Bites Evander Holyfield's ear

Look what happened to Mike Tyson when he bit Evander Holyfield’s ear. He will be forever considered an animal (and rightly so) because of that one act of madness.

To ensure boxing retains its dignity and doesn’t revert to the barbaric cock fights it was spawned from, boxers agree to fight by a code of international rules.

Modern boxing rules trace their roots back to The Queensberry Code of Rules which were established in 1867.

These rules have evolved over the years and are now lengthy, and some are quite complex. If you’re a bookworm, you can check out all the rules of boxing recognized by the Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA).

The AIBA competition rules are widely recognized in most professional bouts. However, event organizers can change the rules for a particular competition and have fighters agree to fight by the amended rules.

Some of the rules are obvious, and others you wouldn’t have guessed would be an official rule of boxing. However, they’ve all been written into the rule book to keep this noble art from turning ugly – blood and broken bones are already enough to repulse.

If you’re new to boxing, don’t get bogged down in the details – you’ll learn them as you go. However, knowing the following basic boxing rules will ensure you make friends and not enemies of the people you train with.

Basic Boxing Rules You Should Must Learn

  • Protect yourself at all times
  • Obey the referee at all times
  • Respect the call time and other requirements of the bout
  • No kicking
  • No grabbing or pushing
  • No lifting
  • No holding and hitting at the same time
  • No hitting below the belt
  • Striking with the head, shoulder or elbow is prohibited
  • No hitting on break (when referee breaks the fighters from clinch)
  • No striking the back of the head
  • No spitting of mouth guard or spitting on your opponent
  • During knockdowns, the standing fighter should go to the neutral corner for the count

If you’re competing, breaking any of these rules can result in a deduction of one point or even disqualification.

Outside the Ring Rules

What you may find strange, is the requirement for professional boxers to obey rules even when they’re not competing.

Being a boxer isn’t only about being a hired hand called on to slug it out in a ring for the amusement of others. The rules were created to uphold the sports noble values such as respect, honour, and fairness, both inside and outside the ring.

Here are some of the rules to be observed when you’re not fighting.

  • No altering of basic information (name, age, sex, nationality, weight, etc.) when filling out personal information for competitions
  • Respect your opponent, their trainers, and team
  • Respect the judges, referees, event organizers and sponsors

The Importance of Boxing Rules

Boxing Rules ensure it's a fair fight

Boxing Rules ensure it's a fair fight

You know how disgusted and outraged I get about boxers who don’t fight by the rules, but the rules don’t solely exist to keep me from flipping my lid every time I spar.

By imposing boxing rules, the following benefits are achieved.

  • Keeps the sport enjoyable for both participants and spectators
  • A fair fight based on weight (and experience if competing in amateur boxing)
  • Bouts are easy to facilitate
  • Point scoring system makes it easy to identify a winner or declare the fight a draw
  • Reduces the risk of serious harm or death inside the ring

Will You Fight Fair?

Feeling confident you know what a fair fight looks like?

Reading this primer on the rules of boxing is enough to get you started, and there’s no need to wade through all of the AIBA competition rules. However, regardless if you want to join a boxing gym or just practice in your home, you should know and understand the importance of at least the most common boxing rules.

So, take the time to memorise the basic boxing rules above, and more importantly, take an oath to abide by them at all times.

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Jamie Stewart has several years of thai boxing experience having started martial arts training in 2006. He regularly trains in both muay thai and boxing and has had five muay thai fights. His love of fitness and martial arts is more of an addiction, and he uses this blog as a support group to share his knowledge and experience.