Updated August 5, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

First Olympic Appearance: 1904

by Gerry Brown and Mark Zurlo

Did You Know?

Olympic boxers can be no younger than 17 years old and no older than 34. Also the fighters cannot have beards and moustaches can be no longer than the upper lip.

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Although boxing was considered too violent for inclusion at the first modern Olympics in 1896, it showed up as a demonstration sport in 1904 in St. Louis and then as a medal sport in 1908 in London. Boxing was omitted once again, however, in 1912 in Stockholm. Since the 1916 Berlin Games were never held due to World War I, boxing didn't permanently join the Olympic fold until 1920 in Antwerp. Since then it has included some of the most memorable champions in Olympic history from Cassius Clay and George Foreman to Oscar De La Hoya and Teofilo Stevenson.

The boxers, separated into 12 different weight classes from light flyweight (48kg or about 106 pounds) to super heavyweight (over 91kg or 200+ pounds), are paired off after a random draw and compete in a single elimination tournament. Unlike most other events, two bronze medals are awarded in boxing. One goes to each of the two semifinal bout losers.

Boxers score points by hitting an opponent on the front or side of the head or torso. A panel of five judges decide which hits are scoring hits but it is a lot more complicated than that. An electronic scoring system is used and no point is awarded unless three of the five judges agree and hit the button within a second of each other. But when two boxers trade a quick flurry of weaker punches the judges are told to wait until the end of the exchange and then give a point to whomever got the better of it. At the conclusion of the bout, assuming neither fighter has been knocked out; the judges' points are added up. The boxer awarded the most points by the majority of the judges is declared the winner. In case of a tie, the judges vote on the winner by taking into account things like which of the fighters showed the better style and took the lead. If they decide those factors were even, then they decide which boxer evidenced better defensive skills. No additional points are awarded for a knockdown; however, if a fighter is down three times in one round or four times during the fight, the bout is halted.

Since a women's boxing event has been added to the 2012 London games, the Beijing Games marked the final time boxing was an all-male sport at the Olympics. Featuring 250 male fighters, the 2012 boxing competition will be held at the ExCel Exhibition Centre in Newham, a London borough. Built in 2000 and expanded in 2010, the ExCel Exhibition Centre can hold up to 10,000 people.

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