Did you know that the origins of boxing can be traced back to Ancient Egypt? Or that the shortest boxing match of all time lasted for about four seconds? Were you aware that women have been boxing at the Olympics since 2012?
Want to learn more fascinating facts about boxing? You’re in the right place.
This article is packed with some of the most interesting trivia about the world’s most popular combat sport, from its early beginnings all the way to today’s multi-million dollar boxing industry.
Let’s get ready to rumble.
Boxing History Facts
1. When did boxing start?
Boxing is one of the oldest sports known today. In fact, people boxed as far back as 5,000 years ago, as indicated by the stone carvings of the Sumerians (who lived in present-day Iraq) and the 2,000-year-old drawings found on the walls of Egyptian tombs.
Nevertheless, Greece was the first country to introduce boxing as a sport in 688 BC. Called Pygmachia, boxing was considered one of the deadliest combat sports in Ancient Greece. Fighters actually wore leather gloves with sharp edges intended to cause as much damage to the opponent’s face as possible.
2. The earliest evidence of the sport’s rules dates back to ancient Greece.
Onomastus of Smyrna, the first Olympic victor in boxing, is said to have developed most of the rules of the sport in Ancient Greece.
Under the original rules, clinching was strictly forbidden. Historical facts about boxing also reveal that there were no rounds in these ancient competitions. Instead, the fights went on until one of the fighters either surrendered by holding up a finger or became unable to continue. The fights were also held outside, making it even more difficult to keep going due to the extreme heat and intense sunlight.
3. Boxing resurfaced in the late 16th century in London.
The sport was actually abolished in 393 AD because it was considered too violent. It didn’t regain its popularity until the late 16th century when the English aristocracy became interested in recovering all things from ancient history. Boxing soon became a popular way for the rich to settle disputes. Namely, they would support the fighters and put substantial bets on their fights —giving birth to the term “prizefighter”.
4. Boxing has been an Olympic event since 1904.
Since its debut to the program at the 1904 Summer Olympics, boxing has been contested at every Summer Olympic Games. The only exception was the Stockholm 1912 Summer Olympics because Swedish law banned the sport at the time. Further information about boxing reveals that until 2012, this was a men-only sport at the Summer Olympics.
5. John ‘Jack’ Broughton is known as the father of English boxing.
The reigning champion from 1734 through 1758, Jack Broughton, was the first to establish a boxing school. He was also the inventor of mufflers, the predecessors of modern boxing gloves. But, most importantly, Broughton is credited with drafting the first set of boxing rules that would last for another 100 years. Under these rules, a round lasted until one of the fighters went down, and a 30-second interval between rounds was introduced.
6. Salamo Arouch survived the Holocaust by boxing.
Salamo Arouch was a Jewish Greek boxer. During the Holocaust, he was kept in Auschwitz and was forced to fight other prisoners for the amusement of German Nazi officers. The losers of these fights were sent to the gas chambers or shot. After two years and 200 fights, Arouch was finally released when the camp was liberated.
Facts About Boxer Fighters
7. Billy Bird holds the record for the most KOs in boxing.
According to boxing facts and statistics, a professional boxer from the United Kingdom holds the record for most KOs. Billy Bird, who fought from 1920 to 1948, was one of the most active fighters of his time, recording 356 bouts and a whopping 138 knockouts under his belt. Archie Moore is a close second with 132 knockouts.
8. Len Wickwar from the UK holds the record for the most professional boxing matches.
In his career of 19 years, Wickwar fought in more professional fights than any other boxer in Great Britain, or 470 to be exact. From 1928 to 1947, Len Wickwar earned 340 victories, 93 of which were by knockouts. Unfortunately, boxing records and stats show that he also suffered the most losses, having lost 127 matches in total.
9. Mike Tyson is one of the most controversial heavyweight boxers in the world.
From exotic pets to cannabis-themed theme parks, there are numerous Mike Tyson fun facts boxing fans would be interested in. Still, topping the list is the 1997 fight when Tyson famously bit Evander Holyfield’s ear. He was disqualified for this move, and Holyfield won the match, but it is still remembered as one of the most controversial and memorable moments in the history of boxing.
Despite the many controversies, there’s no denying “The Baddest Man on the Planet” is one of the best heavyweight boxers of all time, and Mike Tyson boxing stats confirm it. Not only was he the undisputed world heavyweight champion from 1987 to 1990, but he also won his first 19 fights by knockout, 12 of which were delivered in the first round.
10. Mike Tyson’s lifestyle led him to bankruptcy in 2003.
Iron Mike was the highest-paid athlete in the world in 1990, earning $28.6 million at the height of his career. However, due to his extravagant lifestyle, he was forced into bankruptcy in 2003 and currently has a net worth of only $3 million.
11. Floyd Mayweather’s professional boxing record stands at 50-0.
His nickname as an amateur boxer was “Pretty Boy” due to his incredible defensive techniques, which resulted in him receiving far fewer scratches, cuts and bruises on the face.
In his amateur boxing career, he had an 84-6 win-loss record. However, Floyd Mayweather boxing stats indicate that back in 2017, he retired with a perfect 50-0 record and millions in the bank.
Even though three years later, his record was surpassed by Thailand’s WBC minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin, Mayweather is still considered by many as the best boxer in the history of the sport.
12. Mayweather is the richest boxer in the world.
Earning over $1.2 billion over the course of his career, Mayweather currently has a net worth of $450 million. He is also not shy about showing off his enormous wealth. In addition to his huge collection of luxury cars and diamond-encrusted watches, this boxing champion is also said to spend around $6,500 a year on underwear because he reportedly throws each pair away after wearing them only once.
13. Muhammad Ali battled Parkinson’s disease his entire post-boxing life.
It’s generally speculated that Muhammad Ali Parkinson’s development was the result of his boxing career. In fact, the neurological signs were evident by the time he took one of the worst beatings of his life at the age of 38. And although the public observed changes in Ali’s speed and speech in the late 1970s, he wasn’t diagnosed with Parkinson’s until 1984 at 42 years of age. The news of his diagnosis came just three years after he announced his retirement from boxing.
14. George Foreman made more from his grills than he ever did as a boxer.
Despite being a two-time heavyweight champion and a famous athlete, George Foreman profited more from the sale and endorsement of his grills than his boxing career. Boxing facts and figures show that not only did Salton, Inc. pay Foreman $138 million to use his name; the famous boxer also earned an unbelievable $4.5 million a month in payouts at the grills’ peak. And even though official numbers of the amount he received from endorsing the grills were never revealed, the sum is said to be around $200 million—much higher than the earnings he got from boxing.
15. Anthony Joshua is the second British boxer to win both a gold medal at the Olympics and a world title.
British-born Anthony Joshua has a record of 24 wins, one loss and 0 draws, and his current knockout-to-win ratio stands at 91%. Joshua is also the first British heavyweight to win a gold medal at the Olympic games and a world title issued by a major professional sanctioning body. In addition, he is the only fighter in history to share a record with boxing legend Joe Frazier—they were both crowned world heavyweight champions while reigning as Olympic champions.
Boxing Industry Facts
16. The Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao fight was the highest-grossing match in the history of boxing.
Called the “Fight of the Century”, the richest boxing match took place in May 2015 and raked in a whopping £678 million revenue. Boxing industry statistics further reveal that the lion’s share of the money came from pay-per-view sales, which totalled £333 million. Mayweather alone earned £223.5 million from the fight, while his opponent made £122 million.
17. “The Money Fight” generated 4.3 million pay-per-view buys.
Floyd Mayweather also took part in the second highest-grossing match of all time—this time against UFC star Conor McGregor. Labeled “The Money Fight”, the match generated 4.3 million PPV buys, the second-highest number on record, boxing viewership statistics show. This fight made £223.5 million for Mayweather, who won in ten rounds, and another £70 million for McGregor, whose net worth skyrocketed after his spectacular boxing debut.
18. How popular is boxing in 2021?
The phrase “boxing” is searched 225,000 times each month on Google. UK boxing popularity statistics indicate. The sport is widely popular on social media, too, especially on Tik Tok. On this video-sharing app, the hashtag #boxing received 10.7 billion views across all videos.
19. The average boxing ticket price is $209.
The hefty price of over $200 dollars for an average boxing match is the result of the multiple fights included on one card. Namely, since only a few big-name fighters attract large crows, organisers include five or more fights in a single event in order to drive up the price. Naturally, the most famous boxers justify even higher ticket prices.
Boxing Viewership Statistics
20. The biggest fight in boxing history was 2015’s Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao.
Also known as the ‘Fight of the Century’, Mayweather vs Pacquiao sold an unprecedented 4.6 million pay-per-view subscriptions; live tickets even went from $1,500 to a rumoured $200,000 (front row seats). Ultimately, this incredible fight generated a total of £678 million, with £333 million going for the PPV subscriptions and £58.7 million for gate sales.
21. Canelo vs Saunders attracted the largest boxing crowd in U.S. history.
Boxing fans in the U.S. swarmed the AT&T Stadium in Texas on May 8, 2021, in a record-breaking number: 73,126. While around 60,000 were planned to arrive, the fight’s popularity brought over 13,000 more to shatter the previous record of 63,352, set in 1978 during the Ali vs Spinks fight.
22. Boxing is the fourth-most-popular sport in the U.S. in 2021.
According to a recent survey among U.S. adults, around 33% of all respondents answered they are boxing fans. Football (62%) and basketball and baseball (49% each) were the only sports more popular than Sweet Science. However, while the sport’s popularity is on the rise, name recognition worsened. Namely, the survey asked fans to recognise a series of 20 fighters (8 retired, 12 active). Even though they are all retired, Tyson, Ali, Mayweather, Sugar Ray Leonard, De La Hoya, and Holyfield were the most recognisable names.
Facts and Statistics on Injuries Related to Boxing
23. On average, 13 boxers die in the ring each year.
Boxing is a dangerous sport, so it’s no surprise that many boxers have died in the ring. According to a survey conducted by Manuel Velazquez, 1,876 fighters died as a result of boxing-related injuries between 1890 and 2019. What’s more, boxing fatalities statistics from 1740 to 1889, when boxers fought bare-knuckled, point to 266 documented deaths.
24. Concussions are more common among professional boxers.
Amateur fighters are less at risk of getting a concussion than professional fighters mainly because matches are shorter and there are stricter safety regulations in place. Nevertheless, boxing concussions statistics reveal that amateur boxers still have a 13% chance of getting a concussion every time they compete.
Furthermore, the Association of Neurological Surgeons estimates that nearly 90% of all boxers will suffer from some sort of brain injury during their career, making them prone to diseases like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s later in life.
25. 15 to 40% of former fighters have some symptoms of chronic brain injury, boxing brain damage statistics suggest.
Even though most of these boxers have mild symptoms, there is still a certain degree of brain injury involved. Seeing as how the force of a professional boxer’s fist equals 52 times the force of gravity, it’s no wonder that brain injury, whether chronic or a simple concussion, is part of almost every fighter’s life and career.
25. Jimmy Doyle was the first boxer to die in a world title fight since the 1800s.
The death of Jimmy Doyle in the fight against Sugar Ray Robinson in 1947 was tragic as well as shocking as he was the first fighter to die in a world championship bout since the 1800s. Even more disturbing, Sugar Ray Robinson didn’t want to take part in the match because he had a dream the night before in which he killed Doyle in the ring. A minister was summoned to assuage his fears, and the fight took place in June 1947, ending in the death of 22-year old Doyle.
Fun Facts About Boxing
26. The official name of boxing is pugilism, not boxing.
Pugilism is defined as “the practice and art of fighting with fists”. In ancient Greece, Apollo was regarded as the creator and protector of the sport, which was then known as Pygmachia.
27. Muhammad Ali used to abstain from sex before his fights.
Muhammad Ali reportedly would go for almost two months without sleeping with his wife before a fight. He believed that saving energy and testosterone made him invincible in the ring. Other professional boxers that implement the no-sex rule before fights include Oscar De La Hoya and Manny Pacquiao.
28. Women’s boxing has been a part of the Olympic program since the 2012 Summer Games.
Here is one of the most interesting facts about boxing—women have been involved in boxing for about as long as the sport has existed. Still, women’s boxing was not an official Olympic sport until the London 2012 Olympic Games. Women’s amateur boxing follows the same regulations as men’s boxing; the biggest difference is that the rounds are shorter, and women wear breast protectors.
29. A man and a bear fought in a boxing contest. The bear won.
Ready for one of the craziest facts about boxing? In 1949 boxer Gus Waldorf fought a bear in an official boxing match. This fight took place under the direct supervision of judges and specialists, just like any other match. Shortly after the beginning of the first round, though, the bear hit a hard right on the man, knocking him down and effectively winning the fight.
30. Chess-boxing is an actual sport.
A hybrid sport, chess-boxing is exactly what it sounds like: a combination of chess and boxing. Players rotate between chess and boxing rounds until a winner is declared by checkmate, knockout, or technical stoppage. The sport was invented in 1992 by a French comic book artist, but it was introduced as an official sport in 2003. The first professional World Championships were held in Moscow in 2013 and in Berlin in 2014. How is this for boxing fun facts?
31. The longest boxing match ever went for 110 rounds.
Andy Bowen and Jack Burke fought in the world’s longest-gloved boxing battle. The fight took place in New Orleans in April 1893 and lasted a whopping 110 rounds, which took about seven hours to finish. The prize was the Lightweight Championship of the South and a purse of $2,500. However, by the 110th round, the judge declared the match a tie and suggested the two men split the prize money.
32. The shortest boxing match, on the other hand, lasted for only 4 seconds.
The match that took place on November 4, 1947, in the USA between Michael Collins and Pat Brownson was so short it even got listed in the book of Guinness World Records. Collins won the fight by flooring Brownson with the first punch —just four seconds into the match.
33. The first mouthguard was invented by a London dentist.
The first mouthguard, boxing history facts point out, was made of a rubbery sap called gutta-percha and created by English dentist Woolf Krause in 1890. The design was later perfected by another British dentist named Jack Marles, who created a reusable mouthguard to protect the fighters’ teeth during training sessions.
Ted “Kid” Lewis, a welterweight boxer, was the first to wear one of these protective mouthguards in the ring in 1913. After that, the mouthguard became an indispensable part of boxing.
34. In 2020, around 775.000 people took part in boxing in England.
Boxing is a popular sport in the United Kingdom, with an estimated 775,000 people taking part (including boxing fitness programs) in 2020. More boxing fitness statistics from the UK reveal that there are at least 1000 boxing clubs in the country, testifying to the growing popularity of this sport.
35. More than 400,000 women participated in boxing between 2018 and 2019.
According to a Sport England survey conducted between November 2018 and November 2019, over 420 thousand women participated in boxing. These boxing stats tell us that an increasing number of women and young girls are getting involved in a sport that has long been dominated by male participants.
36. Joe Louis holds the record for the most heavyweight title defences.
Joe Louis, also known as the Brown Bomber in the boxing world, is recognized as one of the greatest heavyweight boxing champions of all time. As per heavyweight boxing statistics, he held the title for over 11 years and successfully defended it 25 times, a record that still stands today.
37. The youngest boxing world champion was just 17 years old.
Even though many believe that Mike Tyson is the youngest world champion, boxer facts and statistics reveal that the record is actually held by Wilfred Benitez—the youngest boxer ever to win a World Title since 1976. He defended the title three times before moving up in weight, fighting Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns and the great Roberto Durán. However, after much controversy, his career took a downward spiral, and he finished with a 53-8-1 record.
The Final Round
Boxing has come a long way since its origins when the primary purpose was to knock out the opponent. Today it is a sophisticated sport that requires stamina, agility, intelligence and courage. It is watched by millions around the world, while people of all ages, genders and nationalities are using it to get in shape and improve their health and self-confidence. So, which of these facts about boxing did you find the most interesting? Did any inspire you to pick up a pair of boxing gloves and get in the ring yourself?