6 Basic Rules of Boxing

The basic rules of boxing help you know where to start when it comes to practicing this sport, but also helps when you watch it on TV. In this article, we'll explain what you need to know!
6 Basic Rules of Boxing

Last update: 13 April, 2021

Knowing the basic rules of boxing will help you when it comes to practicing this sport, or understanding it if you’re watching it on TV or at a stadium. Do you know how specialists regulate this sport?

Pugilism (boxing as a profession or hobby) is one of the most popular contact sports in the world. With a huge history behind it, it has rules that accept certain hits and restricts several movements when facing an opponent.

What are the basic rules of boxing?

Boxing is a sport that has centuries of history, but it wasn’t always what we know it to be today. Initially, in Ancient Rome and Greece, the fight often finished with one of the parties being seriously injured or killed. Over time, this changed, and a series of rules were established to help boxers avoid suffering such injuries.

The basic rules of boxing will help you understand why this sport isn’t as violent in the ring as it seems outside it, and how there are rules in place to look after both boxers during a match.

1. The dimension of the ring

First and foremost it’s important to know the place of the fight has its own regulations. Each side of the so-called ring must be at least 17.9 feet and it should have a surface area of at least 24 square feet.

The borders are covered with a sponge cushioning of just under an inch in thickness and the floor should be made of an elastic material that can cover wood. The ropes that limit the ring should also be wrapped in soft material.

2. Obligatory clothing: rules of boxing

woman boxer ready to fight

It’s vital to adhere to this rule in boxing. However, the clothing may be different depending on whether the athlete is an amateur or a professional. First of all, the boxers wear a shirt – the same as in Olympic boxing. Until 2016, non-professionals also had to wear a helmet.

Additionally, the athlete will need to wear boxing gloves that weigh a specific amount according to their category and wear a mouthguard.

Also, before starting a fight, the protective bandages have to be checked to ensure they’re properly fitted. They should be made with chiffon fabric or ribbon and shouldn’t cover the knuckles. Athletes complete these outfits with shorts, footwear, and for women, hair that’s tied back in a plait.

3. Rules of boxing: the points

The points system in boxing can be a little confusing. The judges base their scoring on the hits and dodges that each boxer makes, as well as their efficiency.

When a round ends, the judges give the best boxer a score of ten and they score the loser nine. If a boxer falls, they lose a point; if they fall two times, they lose two points. So with that in mind, the scorecard can be 10-8 or 10-7 respectively.

When finishing the fight, the judge counts the cards and whoever has the most points wins. In the case of a draw, the winner is whoever the judge thinks fought better. 

4. The categories

This is one of the most complicated parts when it comes to the basic rules of boxing. In this sport, there are no less than 17 different categories according to the weight of the athletes.

From lightest to heaviest the categories are as follows: minimumweight, light flyweight, flyweight, super flyweight, bantamweight, super bantamweight, featherweight, super featherweight, lightweight, super lightweight, welterweight, super welterweight, middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight, cruiserweight, and heavyweight. In women’s boxing, there’s no cruiserweight category, and the heavyweight category is capped at 12.5 stone (as opposed to just over 14 stone for men).

5. Permitted and prohibited punches

Basically, the boxer should always punch the front of their opponent with their fists. The rules don’t allow for punches that go below the belt, to the kidneys, nor the back of the head; punches with the palm of the hand, elbow, shoulder, forearm, knee, leg, or foot aren’t allowed.

6. More rules of boxing

man being hit in boxing match

There are between four and twelve rounds to a match and each lasts for three minutes (for men) and two minutes (for women). There’s one minute of rest between each one.

When a boxer falls to the floor, the referee counts to ten. If during this time, the boxer doesn’t get up, the opponent wins by a knockout. If the boxer does get up and the referee deems them fit to continue, the fight continues.

Now that you know the basic rules of boxing, you’ll approach each match with a fresh pair of eyes, knowing what’s permitted and what’s prohibited. It’s a very exciting sport!

It might interest you...
Ethics in Boxing
Fit People
Read it in Fit People
Ethics in Boxing

Countless fans follow boxing but its popularity and ethics have started many debates. For fans, boxing is a passion, but others see it as violence.



  • V. Sanchis, E. Gastaldi, F. Ferrando et al. 1991. Roturas tendinosas y musculares en el hombro del deportista. Revista Española de Cirugía Osteoarticular.
  • F. Ruiz. Estudio nutricional en futbolistas. Tesis para la Universidad del País Vasco. 2006
  • M. Romero y M. Naranjo. El desequilibrio muscular en las lesiones de cadera de los deportistas de marcha atlética de la disciplina de atletismo de la Federación Deportiva de Tungurahua. Trabajo para la Universidad Técnica de Ambato. 2017