Boxers wear athletic shirts, red outfit for a higher-ranked contender, blue for a lower-ranked. No substances are allowed to be used internally and externally except for water and blood stopping agents

Amateur boxing is a variant of boxing practiced at the collegiate level, at the Olympic Games, Pan American Games and Commonwealth Games, as well as many associations.

Amateur boxing bouts are short in duration, comprising three rounds of three minutes in men, and four rounds of two minutes in women, each with a one-minute interval between rounds. Men's senior bouts changed in format from four two-minute rounds to three three-minute rounds on January 1, 2009. This type of competition prizes point-scoring blows, based on number of clean punches landed, rather than physical power. Also, this short format allows tournaments to feature several bouts over several days, unlike professional boxing, where fighters rest several months between bouts.

A referee monitors the fight to ensure that competitors use only legal blows (a belt worn over the torso represents the lower limit of punches – any boxer repeatedly landing "low blows" is disqualified). Referees also ensure that the boxers do not use holding tactics to prevent the opponent from punching (if this occurs, the referee separates the opponents and orders them to continue boxing. Repeated holding can result in a boxer being penalized, or ultimately, disqualified). Referees have to stop the bout if a boxer is seriously injured, or if one boxer is significantly dominating the other.[1]

Nowadays, amateur boxing is sometimes called Olympic-style boxing (now an official term)[2] though this is not to be confused with Olympic boxing. Olympic boxing, although a part of amateur boxing, can be seen[weasel words] as on the verge of amateur and professional boxing, with the Olympians often being compared to top-ranked professionals in terms of skills, and as a rule receiving a quick start in world professional rankings for granted upon turning pro.[3]


Early beginnings

Amateur boxing emerged as a sport during the mid-to-late 19th century, partly as a result of the moral controversies surrounding professional prize-fighting. Originally lampooned as an effort by upper and middle-class gentlemen to co-opt a traditionally working class sport, the safer, "scientific" style of boxing found favour in schools, universities and in the armed forces, although the champions still usually came from among the urban poor.


Contemporary amateur boxing events are often broadcast live

The Queensberry Amateur Championships continued from 1867 to 1885, and so, unlike their professional counterparts, amateur boxers did not deviate from using gloves once the Queensberry Rules had been published. In England, the Amateur Boxing Association (A.B.A.) was formed in 1880 when twelve clubs affiliated. It held its first championships the following year. Four weight classes were contested: Featherweight (9 stone), Lightweight (10 stone), Middleweight (11 stone, 4 pounds) and Heavyweight (no limit). (A stone is equal to 14 pounds.) By 1902, American boxers were contesting the titles in the A.B.A. Championships, which, therefore, took on an international complexion. By 1924, the A.B.A. had 105 clubs in affiliation.

A child boxing exhibition in Union City, New Jersey.

Boxing first appeared at the Olympic Games in 1904 and, apart from the Games of 1912, has always been part of them. From 1904 to 2020, the United States and Cuba won the most gold medals; 50 for the U.S. (117 overall) and 41 (78 overall) for Cuba.[4] Internationally, amateur boxing spread steadily throughout the first half of the 20th century, but when the first international body, the Fédération Internationale de Boxe Olympique (International Olympic Boxing Federation) was formed in Paris in 1920, there were only five member nations.

In 1946, however, when the International Amateur Boxing Association (A.I.B.A.) was formed in London, twenty-four nations from five continents were represented, and the A.I.B.A. has continued to be the official world federation of amateur boxing ever since. The first World Amateur Boxing Championships were staged in 1974, prior to that only regional championships took place, the only worldwide event apart from the Olympics were World Military Boxing Championships first conducted in 1947 and ever since by the CISM.[5]


Amateur boxing matches typically ending with referee raising the winner's hand

The results of amateur boxing match-ups are usually registered, protocolled, and published in a local, regional, national or international press, and broadcast by various media (depending on type, level and importance of the match, and athletes participating,) from the largest international media Associated Press, United Press International, Reuters, covering the major international events, to bulletin-board-type of newspapers covering local events.

Bouts which end this way may be noted in English or in French (which was the AIBA official language.) Amateur boxing does not recognize terms "knockout", and "technical knockout", instead it use the following euphemisms:[6]

Abbreviation Meaning Professional boxing equivalent
English French
RSC kot referee stops contest (unspecified) technical knockout
RSCO referee stops contest for an outclassed opponent
RSCOS referee stops contest for an outscored opponent
RSCH referee stops contest due to hard blows to the head
RSCM referee stops contest for medical reasons referee technical decision
RSCI referee stops contest due to injury
RET AB corner retirement or quitting
KO ko boxer on the canvas for ten seconds same
PTS pts points decision same
DQ disq disqualification same
WO forfeit walkover, a victory by default (due to an opponent's absence) no contest
Bye round bypass no competition

All wins, losses, or mismatches except for those achieved by way of a clean knockout, or in absentia, are disputable, and could be contested legally through an appeal to the governing bodies.


Traditional judging system, with four judges ringside, at each side of the ring, and one judge in the ring (also being a referee of the match)

Amateur boxing to this day have several scoring systems, depending on the tournament regulations and sanctioning authority. Several archaic score systems, that survived to the 1980s (and in some places to this day,) the first of which is a 3-point system, which gave one point for each of three rounds (therefore 3–0 stands for a clean victory by points, 2–1 means that defeated opponent dominated one round, 1–1–1 stands for a draw or ex aequo, which was a very rare occurrence.) It coexisted for a long time with 3-vote decision system, and 5-vote decision system, which resembled professional boxing decision-making system, it took five judges voting either for victory or a draw (in the 5-vote system, 5–0 stands for unanimous decision, 4–1 for majority decision, 3–2 for split decision, 3–1–1 for split decision and one judge ruled a draw. In the 3-vote system, 3–0 stands for unanimous decision, 2–1 for split decision, 0–0–3 for a draw, with no majority decision option.) Depending on the tournament regulations an extra round or rounds could be appointed on the sudden death principle if there was no clear winner. All mentioned systems were practised in combination with each other (i.e. judges were supposed not only to pick up a winner, but also to fill-in scorecards,) creating complexity with points, scorecards, etc. Tournaments and championships usually employed the 5-vote system. International duals usually employed the 3-vote system, with two judges represented the guest nation, and one judge represented the host nation. Both systems lead to a number of controversial and officially contested results, as punch statistics (thrown-to-landed) mostly wasn't accounted for by either one. At the 1960 Rome Olympics preliminaries, after Soviet Oleg Grigoryev was controversially ruled a winner over Great Britain's Francis Taylor, the IOC decided to relieve some 15 of the referees and judges of their duties before the quarterfinals.[7] After the 1988 Seoul Olympics controversy, when the clearly dominant finalist Roy Jones Jr. of the U.S. (whom even the Soviet judges ruled to be a winner, let alone the commentators and his beaten opponent, who himself apologized for the injustice) was virtually robbed of the gold medal, a new system was created and implemented, where only clean punches score, though a controversy still exist as to what is a clean punch in one's personal opinion, leading to another dubious results. The semifinals of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics proved the new points system susceptible to controversy as well, when Kazakhstani Vassiliy Jirov was pronounced a 15–9 score winner over U.S. Antonio Tarver, with many observers were left confused, believing Tarver was dominant through the entire bout.

Scoring system Decision options
Unanimous decision Majority decision Split decision Draw (in rarest cases)
5-vote decision 5–0 4–1 3–2 2–2–1, 2–1–2, or 1–1–3
3-vote decision 3–0 none 2–1 1–1–1 or 0–0–3
Points decision none none none in case of both score equal

Computer scoring was introduced to the Olympics in 1992. Each of the five judges had a keypad with a red and a blue button. The judges pressed a button for which ever corner they felt landed a scoring blow. Three out of the five judges had to press the button for the same boxer within a one-second window in order for the point to score. A legal scoring blow was that which is landed cleanly with the knuckle surface of the glove, within the scoring area from the middle of the head, down the sides and between the hips through the belly button. In case of a tied match, each judge would determine a winner.

The AIBA introduced a new scoring system in January 2011. Each judge gives an individual score for each boxer. The score given to each boxer would be taken from 3 out of 5 judges either by similar score or trimmed mean. Scores are no longer tracked in real time and are instead given at the end of each round.[8]

On March 13, 2013, the computer scoring system was abandoned, with amateur boxing instead using the ten point must system, similar to professional boxing.


2nd and 3rd place at the amateur championships are also prized
Winners are presented with various decorations, usually belts, medals, cups, and miniature gloves.

Amateur boxing awards system in essence duplicates the Olympic awards system with minor differences:

  • Since most tournaments follow international regulations, including a 30-day suspension for knockout losses, both losers are awarded bronze medals. Some tournaments where only one third place available (instead of usual two,) or where semifinals produce more than two bronze claimants, 3rd place bouts constitute a separate round. However, the third-place match is not held in most jurisdictions because of the automatic suspension making such a match improbable.
Second and third place finalists are usually presented with silver and bronze medals.

The United States tournaments and championships (except for those affiliated with World Boxing), contrary to European equivalent, usually do not award silver medals and bronze medals for 2nd and 3rd place respectively, as they acknowledge only the winners. Hence its colloquial name "Golden Gloves" (implying the winner takes all principle, which they are based upon.) This is a parallel to professional boxing, which also does not use such terms as "second place" or "third place", it accepts only "champion" and "challenger".

Protective equipment

In March 2016, protective headgear that had been in use since 1982 was removed from men's competition due to higher concussion rates occurring in fights using headgear than in fights without the headgear. Women's competition was unaffected, as the AIBA announced that there wasn't enough data on its effects on women. This ruling was in place at the 2016 Summer Olympics. [9]

Professional admittance

On several occasions in the 1990s, professional boxers, mostly from the post-Soviet states, resumed their amateur careers, namely: Nikolay Kulpin and Oleg Maskaev in 1993, Nikolai Valuev in 1994, Ruslan Chagaev in 1998.

In June 2016, professional boxers were admitted in the Olympic Games and other tournaments sanctioned by the AIBA.[10] This was done in part to level the playing field and give all of the athletes the same opportunities government-sponsored boxers from socialist countries and post-Soviet republics have.[11] However, professional organizations strongly opposed that decision.[12] As it is accustomed to in the West, amateur boxers do not compete at the Olympiads consecutively, they turn pro right after they participated in the Games or in other sporting event of international importance, while boxers from Cuba and certain post-Soviet states, which have professional sports there banned today or had it previously, are state-sponsored and frequently stay on in the amateurs, while being arguably professionals de facto, and compete in multiple Olympics.[4][13]

Prior to this decision, it was customary in the West for amateur boxers not to compete at successive Olympiads, but rather to turn professional immediately after participating in the Games or in other sporting events of international importance. Meanwhile, boxers from Cuba and some post-Soviet states, in which professional sports are today or were previously banned, were often state-sponsored and remained officially amateurs, despite arguably being de facto professionals, and often competed in multiple Olympics[4][14]


Contrary to professional boxing, which utilizes lineal system, amateur boxing events are different in principle (although professional and amateur cards could appear much similar to each other).

Types of competition

Level of competition is determined by the representation range (the more nations participate, the more important the event is,) as well as by quantity and quality of competitors.
Games Quadrennial boxing events at the Olympic, regional, and sub-regional multi-sport games, are the highest-profile events in amateur boxing. Governing bodies usually send their local representatives to attend the events, oversee and ensure the results.
There are also some differences between the Olympic boxing and amateur championship boxing, as boxing was introduced to the Olympics in 1904, and the world championships were first held seven decades later, in 1974 (the Val Barker Trophy resulted from those differences.)
Championships Championships are second in importance to the games. Both require prior qualification to participate in.
Cups Cups are events of intermediate importance between championships and regular tournaments.
Challenge Challenge is a type of contest, which allows reigning Olympic and world champions, cup winners, regional games medalists, to compete versus each other and against top-ranked amateurs in-between the games and championships, matching them directly and thus negating the jiggering effects of complicated elimination systems.
Tournaments Tournaments could be either A-class (Olympic and World Championship qualifiers,) or B-class (other.) They are also sub-divided at national, invitational (i.e. open to competitors from other countries,) grand prix, memorial, etc. Tournaments are the stepping stones for cups and championships.
Duals Duals are two-team match-ups. Competitors are teamed-up either locally, nationally, regionally, or by the club, or branch of service. Total team score counts for winning the dual. Winning team usually hosts the next dual. 1969 saw the first United States vs. Soviet Union boxing series [ru], which became a frequent event since. Duals and local match-ups are refereed and judged by the arranging authority usually on 50/50 basis.
Local match-ups Locally arranged low-profile events, which usually do not affect any ratings or rankings.
Exhibitions Exhibitions allow amateur boxers to compete versus professional boxers on a non-profit basis. Exhibitions are supervised by the arranging authority.
World championships are high-profile events, second in importance only to the Olympics

Championships are usually divided into the following age-limited subcategories:

Senior Youth Junior Cadet

The following ring-experience-oriented divisions are usually represented at tournaments:

Open Novice Sub-novice

There are also specific types of contest for servicemen and jailed people:

Military Police Penitentiary

In terms of weight classes contests could be either:

Absolute Weight-limited

Absolute championships without weight limits completely or in two weight classes (over/under 91 kilogram) took place in socialist countries in the absence of professional boxing, allowing to determine country's undisputed champion regardless of weight (over 91: usually contested by light heavyweights and heavyweights; under 91: contested by middleweights with significant other advantages to compensate the weight disparity.) Competitions other than absolute, always had strict weight regulations, weigh-in procedures, etc.

Governing bodies

Governing body representatives attend the events to ensure compliance with the rules and congratulate the finalists

Essentially, there are three governing bodies in amateur boxing, which rule internationally:

Disbanded governing bodies

Collegiate-level boxing competitions in the United States are usually regulated by one of two organizations: the National Collegiate Boxing Association (created in 1978) or the United States Intercollegiate Boxing Association (formed in 2012).

National competitions

Further information: List of Olympic medalists in boxing and List of current amateur boxing champions

United States

A Marine corporal active in USA Boxing (2005).

There are several different amateur sanctioning bodies in the United States, including the National AAU Boxing Committee, Golden Gloves Association of America and United States Amateur Boxing Federation (presently known as USA Boxing.)[15]

The Golden Gloves is an amateur boxing tournament that is fought at both the national level and the regional level. Although the Golden Gloves typically refers to the National Golden Gloves, it can also refer to the Intercity Golden Gloves, the Chicago Golden Gloves, the New York Golden Gloves, and other regional Golden Gloves tournaments. The winners of the regional tournaments fight in a national competition annually.

USA Boxing also sanctions a national tournament to determine who will compete on the United States national boxing team at the Olympic Games (either directly qualifying for the Olympics or through worldwide or regional qualifying tournaments).[15]


Since 1969, amateur boxing in Canada has been regulated by the Canadian Amateur Boxing Association (Boxing Canada) and the various member provincial associations.[16]

Some of the main tournaments include Provincial Championships, Golden Gloves, Silver Gloves, Emerald Gloves and Buckskin Gloves.[16]

Current World & Olympic Champions

Men's Youth Division

Galal Yafai GBR Lightweight 63 kg Olympic Champion -
Hebert Conceição BRA Middleweight 75 kg Olympic Champion -
Ja'Van Nurse USA Welterweight 69 kg Olympic Champion -
Julio César La Cruz CUB Heavyweight 91 kg Olympic Champion World Champion
Arlen López CUB Light Heavyweight 81 kg Olympic Champion -
Robby Gonzales USA Light Heavyweight 81 kg - World Champion
Jahmal Harvey USA Featherweight 57 kg - World Champion
Bakhodir Jalolov UZB Super Heavyweight +91 kg Olympic Champion -
Mark Petrovskii RUS Super Heavyweight +91 kg - World Champion
Yoenlis Hernández CUB Middleweight 75 kg - World Champion
Albert Batyrgaziev RUS Featherweight 57 kg Olympic Champion -
Galal Yafai GBR Flyweight 52 kg Olympic Champion -
Sewon Okazawa JAP Welterweight 69 kg - World Champion
Saken Bibossinov KAZ Flyweight 52 kg - World Champion
Temirtas Zhussupov KAZ Minimumweight 48 kg - World Champion
Tomoya Tsuboi JAP Bantamweight 54 kg - World Champion
Sofiane Oumiha FRA Lightweight 60 kg - World Champion
Yurii Zakharieiev UKR Light middleweight 71 kg - World Champion
Loren Alfonso AZE Cruiserweight 86 kg - World Champion

Celebrity boxing

See also: List of celebrity boxing matches and Celebrity Boxing

The late 2010s and early 2020s saw advent of celebrity boxing matches, when certain media celebrities, usually Internet and TV personalities, YouTubers, etc., challenged one another. The latest of such matches was the KSI vs. Logan Paul, a white-collar amateur boxing match between the British YouTuber, Olajide "JJ" Olatunji (known online as KSI), and American YouTuber, Logan Paul. The fight was promoted as "the biggest internet event in history" and "the biggest amateur boxing match in history". With the result being a draw, KSI retained the Youtube championship belt he got from the KSI vs. Joe Weller fight which he won in the way of TKO 1m 30 sec into the 3rd round. The belt was presented to KSI by professional boxer Derek Chisora at the end of his fight with Weller. The YouTube championship belt is of red colour with gold motifs. Its design features an eagle with its wings fully spread atop a golden globe with a crown at its centre. The rematch took place on 9 November 2019 at the Staples Center, Los Angeles, this time as a professional boxing match. KSI won the rematch by split decision after going the full distance of six three minute rounds.

See also


  1. ^ Andrew Eisele Olympic Boxing Rules Archived 2012-02-06 at the Wayback Machine, 2005
  2. ^ "Congressional Record, Volume 154 Part 16". Government Printing Office – via Google Books.
  3. ^ "Dozens of pro boxers to take their swings at Olympic gold". USA Today. Archived from the original on 2023-04-12.
  4. ^ a b c "Barry McGuigan explains Cuban boxing success". 2013-04-18. Retrieved 2019-07-29.
  5. ^ Hickoksports Olympic Boxing History Archived 2002-02-22 at the Library of Congress Web Archives,; 2004
  6. ^ Sports Injuries: Mechanisms, Prevention, Treatment by Freddie H. Fu and David A. Stone, Williams & Wilkins, 1994, p. 237.
  7. ^ Boxing Honors Shared By United States And Italy, United States 1960 Olympic Book, p. 99.
  8. ^ "Introduction of new AIBA scoring system" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on March 17, 2012.
  9. ^ Josh Rosenblatt. "(Male) Olympic Boxers Will No Longer Wear Ridiculous and Dangerous Headgear". VICE Sports. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2016-03-06.
  10. ^ "Professional boxers will be allowed to compete at Rio Olympics". The Guardian. June 2016.
  11. ^ "Feisty USA Boxing President John Brown Sees Better Times Ahead". The Sweet Science.
  12. ^ "WBC forbids its champions and ranked fighters from going to Olympics". Archived from the original on 2017-12-22. Retrieved 2017-12-21.
  13. ^ "Secrets of Cuban Boxing". Retrieved 2019-07-29.
  14. ^ "Secrets of Cuban Boxing". Retrieved 2019-07-29.
  15. ^ a b "Rules Clarifications." Team USA,
  16. ^ a b "Boxing BC Association".