Boxing on an amateur level is both a Commonwealth and Olympic sport and is usually a part of many of the international games. Further, boxing actually has its own World Championships. Boxing is overseen by a referee and the competition is set in one to three minute periods called rounds. The winner decided by several factors including when an opponent breaks a rule and is disqualified, throws in the towel, is deemed by the referee as unable to continue or is pronounced the winner after the judges' scores are tallied.
Professional and Amateur Boxing
Within the 17th to the 19th centuries, boxing was held for cash prizes and the promoters organized the bouts. The spectators would also bet cash on the results. However, amateur boxing became a part of the Olympics in 1908. Today, both amateur and Olympic boxing are usually held in three to four round bouts and scoring is based on the clean blows landed, without regards to the impact. In addition, fighters now wear protective headgear to decrease the number of knockouts, knockdowns and injuries. Amateur boxing scores are checked by the ringside judges, however, the Australian Institute for Sport developed a prototype for an automated scoring system which is able to objectively score and improve safety. It actually makes the sport more intriguing for spectators. Amateur boxing is still popular in Cuba and some of the former Soviet nations; however, professional boxing still remains one of the most popular sports worldwide. An amateur career is usually a stepping stone towards a professional career.
Boxing is a very aggressive sport that has both repetitive and forceful punching. Therefore, provisions must be put in place to protect the hands. Trainers typically do not allow boxers to train without their gloves and wrist wraps. The hand wraps are necessary to protect hand bones and the gloves are used for securing the hands from direct injury, thus giving the boxers the ability to throw harder punches. Since the late 19th century, gloves are mandatory in competition, although gloves today are much heavier than those worn by the earlier 20th century boxers. Before the bout, the boxers agree on the weight of the gloves as they both understand that tough boxers who wear the lighter gloves could lay out heavier punches and cause more damage. The glove brand also plays a role and is also agreed upon prior to the bout. Mouth guards are worn to protect both the teeth and the gums from injury and to provide cushioning for the jaw, thus decreasing the probability of a boxer being knocked out. Soft soled shoes are necessary to protect a boxer's feet from being stepped on by an opponent. In the past, boxing boots were similar to those used in professional wrestling. Today, today the boots are more similar to those used by amateur wrestlers.
Boxers hone their skills using two types of punching bags. One is the "speed bag" which is a small teardrop shaped bag used for sharpening repetitive punching skills and the reflexes. The other is the "heavy bag" which is a large cylindrical bag filled with a synthetic substitute, sand or water used for practicing body blows and power punching. Boxers also use other training equipment such as medicine balls, rowing machines, free weights and jump rope to improve their stamina, agility, speed and strength.