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Updated: 2006-08-21 19:23

Boxing Olympic sport since 1904

Boxing ranks among the Olympic Games' most illustrious sports.

Koki Kameda (L) of Japan lands a punch to Juan Jose Landaeta of Venezuela during the World Boxing Association (WBA) light flyweight title bout at Yokohama Arena in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, August 2, 2006. Kameda defeated Landaeta by a 2-1 decision. [Reuters]
When it first arrived in the Ancient Olympic Games, the tools of the trade were long strips of leather wrapped around boxers' fists. The fight continued until one man or the other went down or conceded. The Romans followed with a gladiator dimension. They used gloves studded with spikes or weighted with lead, and fights often ended in death, like other entertainment of the day.

When the modern Games resumed in 1896, the Athens organising committee omitted boxing, deciding it was too dangerous. The sport reappeared in 1904 in St. Louis, thanks to its popularity in the United States, then disappeared again in 1912 at Stockholm because Sweden's national law banned it.

Only in 1920 did boxing return to the Olympic Games to stay. Hence, Muhammad Ali (Cassius Clay at the time) and Teofilo Stevenson (a three-time gold medallist) could join names like Theagenes of Thassos and Cleitomachus of Thebes among the legends.


Boxers qualify for the Olympic Games through regional qualifying tournaments in Europe, Asia, the Americas, Africa and Oceania. The number of boxers accepted from any region depends upon the strength of boxing in the region and varies according to weight division.

The boxers are paired off at random for the Olympic Games, without regard to ranking. They fight in a single-elimination tournament, but, unlike most Olympic events, both losing semi-finalists receive bronze medals.


+ 91kg (super heavyweight) Men 
- 48kg (light-flyweight) Men 
48 - 51kg (flyweight) Men 
51 - 54kg (bantamweight) Men 
54 - 57kg (featherweight) Men 
57 - 60kg (lightweight) Men 
60 - 64 kg Men 
64 - 69 kg Men 
69 - 75 kg Men 
75 - 81kg (light-heavyweight) Men 
81 - 91kg (heavyweight) Men