Competition and rivalry is central to boxing, and has been throughout the sport’s history. Lord Lonsdale, president of the National Sporting Club, awarded a belt in 1909 to the champion of a British title fight, Freddie Welsh, who excelled in the lightweight division. Until 1929, the champion of each division won the Lonsdale belt, which is the oldest belt in boxing. This changed in 1929, when the Lonsdale belt was awarded to any boxer who emerged victorious from three British title matches in the same weight division.
The winner of the belt in 1911, Billy Wells, is familiar to millions today as the muscle man who strikes the gong at the beginning of ‘Rank’ films.
Competitions for amateurs
Amateur boxing competitions in the UK are run by the amateur sport’s governing and organisation bodies. The Amateur Boxing Association of England (ABAE) organises a championship each year for amateur fighters in all the weight categories. Competitors must be at least 17 years old, and registered with an amateur club recognised by the ABAE. The ABAE champion then goes on to represent England in the Four Nations Championship, which involves the best amateur boxers from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales each year.
The Amateur Boxing Association of England also represents English boxers internationally and has successfully won the right for England to host the 2008 European Championships. The prestigious boxing event will be held in Liverpool, and is a qualifying round for the Beijing Olympics. For more information, check out the ABAE website.
The European Amateur Boxing Association holds international championships for amateur fighters. This is the toughest and most high profile competition for amateur boxers in Europe and is held in a different European country each year. There are separate competitions for male and female competitors. The EABA website is a useful place to check for the latest news in the world of amateur boxing all around Europe.
There are also world championships for amateur fighters. These are organised by the international amateur governing body called the Association International de Boxe Amateur (AIBA). This event began in over 30 years ago in 1974, and was extended to include a women’s world championship in 2001.
The AIBA also organises the Boxing World Cup, which is a team boxing event. Boxers compete for their country, with fighters from different weight divisions making up each nation’s team.
Competitions for professionals
Professional boxing competitions are also organised by the bodies which govern this area of the sport. Each awards its own championship belt in each professional weight division. The main professional boxing organisations are:
- World Boxing Association
- World Boxing Organisation
- World Boxing Council
- International Boxing Federation
The highlight of the professional international boxing calendar is the World Boxing Association title championships. For details of the winners in each weight division from the last few years, have a look at the WBA website. The website also lists the schedule of this year’s championship fights in each weight division and is an informative site to check for the latest boxing news.
A new competition, called the Superfighter, and due to be held in the US, has high stakes - $5m will be awarded to the winner, who will boast the title of World Superfighter Heavyweight Champion. The contest will be fought between eight world class heavyweight boxers from around the world, and will take place - from start to finish - on one day. For more details and to make sure you do not miss the announcement of the date of the event, have a look at the official Superfighter website.