Boxing is a sport where two participants of similar weight attack each other with their fists (usually placed into special gloves) in a series of two to three-minute intervals called "rounds". Boxing is nicknamed the "sweet science" and also called fistfighting, pugilism or prizefighting. Boxing is subdivided into professional boxing and amateur boxing.
In fact, any form of boxing - from amateur backyard contests to Olympic bouts can be considered as amateur boxing unless they do not belong to any professional boxing leagues. In both divisions, the combatants (called boxers or fighters) avoid their opponent's punches whilst trying to land punches of their own. Points are awarded for clean, solid blows to the legal area on the front of the opponent's body and head above the waistline. The fighter with the most points after the scheduled number of rounds is declared the winner. Victory may also be achieved if the opponent is knocked down and unable get up before the referee counts to ten (a Knockout, or KO) or if the opponent is deemed too injured to continue (a Technical Knockout, or TKO). Boxing terms and basic techniques are described here.
Any forms and modifications of competitive matches in boxing gloves, which are not professional boxing bouts, may be considered as amateur boxing. Official amateur boxing is a truly athletic activity (like freestyle wrestling of judo), in which people participate not for making big money but for fun or for pleasure. An amateur boxing bout consists of three round; a round usually lasts 3 minutes for men and 2 minutes for women. Unlike professional boxing, in official amateur boxing, fighters must wear protective helmets.
Female boxing in its amateur form has been included into the - its debut occurred at the London Olympics in 2012.
Besides the official women's amateur boxing, which has became an Olympic sports, there are variety of female boxing forms; far from all of them represent real combat sport. And not every of real competitive event may be really called boxing. Boxing matches for audience amusement, which have less real competitive component or don't have it at all are described in the sections Show boxing and Topless boxing.
In amateur boxing (the version of the sport found at the Olympic Games and at events held by various amateur boxing federations) the primary emphasis is on landing scoring punches rather than concern with doing actual physical damage to one's opponent (though it still occurs). Each punch that lands on the head or torso is awarded a point. 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 don't use holding tactics to prevent the opponent from swinging (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). If a competitor is punched sufficiently hard to have trouble continuing the fight, and the opponent inflicted this condition with only legal blows, the match is over and the competitor still standing is declared the winner by knockout. In amateur boxing, referees will readily step in and award knockouts even if the competitor is only relatively lightly injured.
In the late 19th and early 20th century, amateur boxing was encouraged in schools, universities and in the armed forces, but the champions, in the main, came from among the urban poor.
Women's boxing first appeared in the Olympic Games as a demonstration bout in 1904. For most of the 20th century, however, it was banned in most nations. Its revival was pioneered by the Swedish Amateur Boxing Association, which sanctioned events for women in 1988. The British Amateur Boxing Association sanctioned its first boxing competition for women in 1997. The first event was to be between two thirteen-year-olds, but one of the boxers withdrew because of hostile media attention. Four weeks later, an event was held between two sixteen-year-olds. In March of 1993, Dallas Malloy became the first female to challenge the USA Boxing’s bylaw in a federal court. Her dream was to box against other women in the Olympic Games, a goal attainable only as a member of USA Boxing. For months she trained without any immediate hope of competing. Malloy’s lawsuit against USA Boxing would go to trial, unless settled, in December of 1993, before the U.S. District Court in Seattle.
Unlike female professional boxing (which is developed according the same rules as men's professional boxing and being a profitable busliness), there are several forms of amateur female boxing matches - from athletic competitions in the Olympis style to bouts of light-trained but "tough girls".
Female boxing matches became very popular and they are held in any quarters: in gyms, in theaters, in bars, in clubs, in apartments etc. Such mathces are recorded and a lot of companies then sell tyhe video and DVD tapes. Amateur bouts are orginized on the regular basis, sometimes as tournaments of even regional and state championships. Female amateur boxing tournaments and championships are held in many European countries, in the USA, Australia and New Zealand. In 1988, Sweden was the first country to have female boxing competition sanctioned by its national boxing federation. Besides tournaments and championships individual women's boxing matches are held - for amusement or for video recording.
Very popular amateur boxing tournaments for girls are regularly held in the USA - "Golden Gloves". Girls compete by weight and by age categories. The most of participants are teenager girls. The "youngest" category is 11-12 year old, so even young pre-teenage girls are playing serious boxing. There is lack of heavyweights on the tournament though. For instance, on the 2003 tournament two winners were announed without contests in the two heaviest categories (189lb and 176lb) - Elizabeth Kerin and Bose Iajaola (both from Illinois) won unopposed. As a matter of fact, a month later the both boxers fought in two Russian tournaments. Kerin won one bout and lost another one bout but Iajaola was defeated twice (the bout against Olga Novoselova was stopped by an obvious Olga's advantage over Bose).
So-called Toughwoman Contest is an amateur form which is extremely popular in the USA. In the past, women and men participated in these contests which were named "Toughman Contests". Then, as more and more women wanted to be there, women only tournaments were held named "Toughwoman contests". In fact, Toughman/Toughwoman bouts represent boxing fight between light-trained or untrained women or men (mixed fights also happen). These bouts are frequently shown on TV and are very fervent and unpredictable. Brave men and women have an opportunity to come into the ring and measure their strength, skills and courage against any other volunteer. As far as girls and women are concerned, they demonstrate exceptional courage on the ring breaking old prejudices about the "weaker sex". Some of female contestants are mature women having children entering the ring just for fun, even not for money. Due to little skills such a bout often transforms into a fierce skirmish with use of kickboxing and wrestling moves. No doubts, such matches are shows but competitive and thrilling shows but some bouts have comical nuances like runaway of a contestant or fight between a awkward robust lady and a quick skilled slim girl. There were no weight categories in such competitions but big women not always had an advantage because many of them were overweight and not fit. Mismatches were very common on these competitions and since judges and doctors were often underqualified, several bouts have ended tragically. The most known tragedy happened in July 2003 in Florida when a mother of two died due to the brain damage. However, the idea of boxing contests between "regular" guys and gals is very popular and durable. In fact, "tough men/women" tourtnaments are held regularly, in many places in the USA and beyond it, even though they are named a little differently. Weight categories are introduced in many such tournaments.
Another form of female amateur boxing is developed in fight-clubs (which are sometimes underground). Girls fight there not just one to one but in crowd; not just by boxing gloves but sometimes by legs; not always standing but sometimes on the ground. When a fighter can't continue fighting she may be replaced with another one. The both categories - team members (slightly trained) and spectators may participate in the bouts. Sometimes a few pairs come out into the ring and so-called "Riot on the ring" begins. The winner is the one who managed to remain on foot while all the other fighters are out. Finishing with one opponent a pair winner starts beating fighters in another pair (usually starting with the stronger in the pair) in order to eliminate the both participants (see the lower left clip).
There is another widespread entertainment in USA - female bar fights. Volunteer girls (often slightly drunk) are invited to a dancing arena, boxing gloves are put on their hands and "petty cares" develop. To the sound of audience loud cheering up and laughter each participant tries to kick her opponent's ass, often literally because the girls are not used to getting punched, so they instinctively turn they backs toward the attackers tempting them to punch to that "appetizing" place. If boxing girls were rivals in the life (and that might be a reason to box) the contest transforms to a tussle with lying down. Besides bar fights, sometimes women engage in boxing competition just for their own fun.
Another popular competitive boxing TV show Celebrity boxing can be also considered as an amateur boxing. These show bouts are popular in the USA and especially in Germany. Models, actresses, singers, TV hosts, porn-stars, former athletes as well as ladies who became scandalous famous train for a few weeks and then ardently fight each other in the ring (more or less following the boxing rules).
And finally an erotic show of topless boxing should be mentioned. With some exceptions female topless boxing don't have real competitive element and are pure shows. Nevertheless, some bouts in the club "Bad Apple" (closed) are quite real even though participants are not too much trained. Nice girls having graceful figures and quite visible busts are boxing with enthusiasm and fervor. It's unclear how breast safety is provided though but perhaps ban on punches to breast is pointed out in advance (mutually beneficial for all participants) but the promoters just don't flaunt that. This is an example of appropriate combination of real female contest and erotic show. Demonstration of ardent boxing of topless girls is quite rousing and exciting. Topless boxing (along with regular boxing) is also developed in the famous female fighting club DWW where it's accomplished quite professionally as everything in that club.
A couple of episodes from London Olympics
Photo by Ian Glover from the resource Flickr
Reprinted by the author's permission
Amateur boxing in 1970s
Dallas Malloy - amateur boxer and fighter for fighting rights
Amateur boxing bouts
Amateur boxing in the streets
Tough Women Bout
Boxing in a bar
Fight club bout
Topless boxing (DWW club)