How Does Olympic Boxing Work

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There are different levels in boxing, just like in any other combat sport, both in terms of talent and in terms of competition. Before going professional later in their careers, the majority of boxers begin their careers in amateur and Olympic boxing.

Boxers can’t really make it as professionals unless they first prove themselves as amateurs, in a sort. But how is professional boxing different from Olympic boxing?

Learn more about the differences between Olympic and professional boxing by reading this article.


What Is Olympic Boxing?

Olympic boxing is amateur boxing, where the rules addressing the number of rounds, the equipment competitors must wear, and the scoring methodology are different from those at the pro level. Expert boxers who compete for money, fame, and legacy call professional boxing their home. The focus is on aggression, inflicting maximum pain on the opponent, and achieving victory at all costs.

Olympic Games and boxing have a very intimate link. Olympic boxing originally appeared in the ancient Games in Greece in 688 BC, with Onomastos of Smyrna being the first-ever Olympic boxing champion.

According to historical evidence, Onomastos is also credited with creating boxing rules in antiquity.

Boxing had its Olympic debut at the 1904 St. Louis Games in the United States, where 18 local boxers fought in the event, which featured seven different weight classes. The modern-day Olympics began in 1896.

Since then, boxing has always been a part of the Summer Games, with the exception of Stockholm 1912, when the sport was outlawed in Sweden.


What Are The Differences Between Professional and Olympic Boxing?

Professional boxing rules and Olympic boxing rules have many differences. Amateur boxing places a strong premium on experience, education, and boxer development.


The Rules

  • Before the opening round and before the decision, boxers are required to shake hands.
  • The minimum and maximum ages for Olympic boxing are 19 and 34, respectively (up from 17 and 17 in 2013).
  • Boxers must have clean-shaven faces or only have a little mustache that doesn’t extend past the upper lip. Beards are prohibited.
  • A medical examiner must certify that the boxers are fit before each match.
  • Every day, boxers must weigh in.
  • Boxers must use gloves that meet AIBA requirements. The major hitting area is indicated by a white stripe on the 10-ounce gloves.
  • Participants dress in either red or blue.
  • In 2013, headgear was banned for men because research revealed that it increased the risk of concussion.



Compared to professional fights, Olympic boxing matches are shorter and include fewer rounds. The match lasts the same amount of time for both genders. Boxers face off in three rounds, lasting three minutes each, with a one-minute rest in between.

Four to twelve rounds can be found in a professional boxing match. The actual number of rounds depends on the boxers’ ability levels, although at the top levels, there are always 12 rounds. Professional bouts can use fewer than four rounds, particularly in Australia. There is a 1-minute rest break in between each round, which lasts 3 minutes for men and 2 minutes for women.


Protective Gear

The safety and well-being of the young boxers are the main focus of the Olympic boxing regulations. Male boxers were no longer required to wear headgear as of the 2016 Olympics, but female boxers are still required to wear it. According to studies, wearing headgear increases the likelihood of knockdowns and fight stops. Having said that, all participants must wear:

  • Full padded boxing gloves that are 12 ounces in weight (Boxers below 165 pounds wear 10-ounce gloves)
  • Headgear (only for women)
  • Shorts, a boxing jersey, and a pair of boxing shoes
  • Mouthguard


Due to the fact that they do not wear headgear or boxing jerseys, professional boxers are easy to spot. They dress to compete:

  • Full padded gloves that come in different sizes 
  • Boxing shorts and shoes
  • Mouthguard


How Can You Qualify for Olympic Boxing?

Olympic boxing has fewer slots than most sports, so just because you qualified nationally doesn’t guarantee you’ll be attending the Games. Professionals qualify based on their rating and a global Olympic qualification competition. Amateur boxers can earn a spot in the Olympics by competing in regional competitions in Europe, Asia, the Americas, Africa, and Oceania, as well as at a global qualifying event.



More than 2,500 years ago, in Athens, Greece, Olympic boxing first appeared. Since then, professional boxing has advanced significantly during the past 100 years. Olympic, amateur, and professional boxing all have some similarities but also differ slightly from one another.

Maxim Tzfenko

Maxim Tzfenko

"I live and breath Martial Arts"

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