Basic boxing rules for beginners

The modern sport has been governed by the Queensberry Rules since 1867. John Graham Chambers wrote the rules, which were then publicly endorsed by the Ninth Marques of Queensberry, hence their name. Below is an outline of the basic rules. For a complete list of these rules, have a look at this website.

  • Boxing is a combat sport in which two opponents face each other in a ring, wearing padded gloves.
  • The fighters face each other in consecutive sessions, known as ‘rounds’, which last between one and three minutes.
  • The number of rounds in a boxing match depends on the level of competition – Olympic matches only have three rounds, whereas professional heavyweight fights can reach a much higher number. The number is agreed before the fight begins.
  • During each round, the opponents punch and strike each other. Holding is not allowed.
  • A boxer is victorious when the opponent is knocked over and does not get up before the referee counts to ten out loud. This is called a knock out.
  • If there is no knock out, the scores of a panel of judges, awarded for each boxer’s performance, will be used to name the winner.
  • Between the rounds there is a short break during which the boxers usually go to the corner of the ring assigned to them, take on water, and receive advice from their trainer.

History of boxing rules

Before the Queensberry Rules were introduced, a boxing champion called Jack Broughton responded to the increasingly dangerous and sometimes even deadly way the sport was progressing, by writing the first rules to govern boxing in 1743. Modern day gloves stem from Broughton, as does the rule that once a boxer is on the floor for a certain amount of time unable to get to his feet, the fight is over. Broughton’s rules also stated that there is to be no hitting or grabbing below the waist.

These rules were added to and made more comprehensive in 1839 when the London Prize Ring Rules emerged. Among other new rules, this is the first time it was stated that a boxing match must occur in a ring which measures 24 foot square. For more details about the development of the rules of boxing, have a look at the Sport Boxing website.

In 1919 the British Boxing Board of Control was formed to govern the sport, adding importance to the role of officials including the referee and panel of judges.

For all the weight divisions then please click on the link.