Olympics 2012: how to get involved in boxing


Ah, boxing: the ancient, noble art of pummelling another human being. You’d be forgiven for thinking all boxers do between bouts is trash talk, but that’s only true for the professionals. Amateur boxing is incredibly demanding and requires lots of cardiovascular training. A typical training session will involve skipping, shadow boxing, pad work, bag work, sparring, plus lots of pressups, situps and the like, with the option of pulling it together into a Rocky-style montage if someone has the right CD.

The basics

The sweet science is simple to understand but difficult to master. Unlike in the fights you saw at school, defence and footwork are as important as attack. When throwing a punch, the four basic types are the jab (a quick, straight punch with the leading hand), the cross (a powerful punch with the rear hand), the hook (a semi-circular blow with the leading hand) and the uppercut (a rising “up and under” with the rear hand).

An amateur bout is decided by the number of clean blows landed rather than damage done, and takes place over three rounds of three minutes for men, and four rounds of two minutes for women. No hitting below the belt, no headbutts, no biting, no kicking. Lastly, you do not talk about Fight Club. Ding!

Health benefits

Regular boxing can help with weight loss and improve muscle tone, co-ordination and agility. It’s not just about the upper body either – half an hour’s sparring will work your bum and thighs hard. Most amateur boxers do road work (that’s running to you and me) in their spare time to build up stamina.

Equipment, costs and practicalities

A good pair of beginnner’s boxing gloves can be yours for around £20; you’ll also need hand wraps (£5) to go underneath. If you get on to head sparring you’ll need a head guard (£30) and a gumshield (£5). You can spar in your trainers to begin with but if you want the proper boxing boots you’ll have to fork out around £30. Blokes need a groin guard. Prices range from £5 to upwards of £50, depending on how much you value your genitals.

Club costs vary greatly. At a spit-and-sawdust gym you’ll often find cheap pay-as-you-box deals, but posher places exist that require you to pay a full membership. Try these club finders for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

If you want to compete you need to be aged 11-40, have a medical and get ‘carded’. Then you’re good to dance, punk.

Trendiness rating: 8/10

Despite the puerile antics of Haye, Chisora and co, boxing is growing in popularity across a number of demographics. No one will ever look good hitting those tiny speed bags, though.

Inside line

Lee Murgatroyd, UK Sport: “Boxing is great exercise. It provides a full-body workout and builds strength, improves conditioning and is a great for cardio. Boxing clubs are open to all shapes and sizes, including people who just want to do non-contact boxing training or those who want to compete.”

Find out more

British Amateur Boxing Association – website for Team GB.

Amateur Boxing Association of England

Amateur Boxing Scotland

Welsh Amateur Boxing Association

Irish Amateur Boxing Association – covers NI.

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Over to you

Are you a boxer? Help us build up this resource by sharing tips, videos, links to clubs and anything else that beginners might find useful.

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