What began as combat between Greek and Roman empires somewhere in the neighborhood of 4000 BC has evolved into one of the most popular sports in the history of modern sport, practiced in nearly every country throughout the world. Records allude to pugilistic games and festivals very brutal in nature as combatants fought often to their death, aided by the brutal use of metal studs and spikes. Today, boxing, particularly amateur boxing, is no longer brutal in nature as the sport adheres itself to the strictest of safety constraints, where utmost attention is paid to the safety of the boxer. Amateur boxing now uses gloves without spikes and contests are determined by the use of a computer, rather than by death.
Yet, for all its changes, boxing is relatively unchanged in one satisfying way: it is still hand-to-hand, one-on-one combat, pitting a boxer against someone of relative strength and size both of whom are left to battle for the prize and glory of a nation. Both are skilled in pugilistic technique and the boxer who can combat the other's defenses and offenses shall in turn be declared the winner-as simple and pure as it was in 4000 BC.
Since becoming an organized sport in 1888, Olympic-style or amateur boxing has enjoyed a rich tradition of excellence in the United States. The sport has provided competitive opportunities for hundreds and thousands of young men and now young women. When Olympic-style boxing was organized as one of the first sports in the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), the sport's popularity was mainly limited to the United States. In the early years, amateur boxing's rules were based primarily on professional boxing's regulations.
The popularity of Olympic-style's boxing has spread worldwide since that time and has developed its own identity and rules independent of pro boxing.
The International Amateur Boxing Association was formed in 1946, creating an international body for amateur boxing. Throughout the sport's development process, the United States has been a world leader among nations in creating competitive opportunities, enhancing the sport's image and making amateur boxing safer for all of its participants.
The sport first gained Olympic inclusion in 1904 and since that time, United States boxers have won 106 Olympic medals: 47 gold, 23 silver and 36 bronze in men’s boxing. Following an IOC decision in August of 2009, women’s boxing will make its Olympic debut in 2012, with three weight divisions – flyweight (112 lbs), lightweight (132 lbs), and middleweight (165 lbs) being contested. Twelve boxers in each of the three Olympic weight divisions will earn berths in the 2012 Olympic Games with the 2012 Women’s World Championships in May of 2012 serving as the sole international qualifier for the event. Women’s boxing will also make its first appearance in the Pan American Games in the 2011 event in Guadalajara, Mexico with the flyweight, lightweight and middleweight divisions being contested in an Olympic preview.
Women’s Boxing started in October 1993 with its first recorded victory. Acting on a lawsuit filed by Dallas Malloy, a 16-year-old female from Bellingham, Wash., USA Boxing officially lifted its ban on women’s boxing in October of 1993. The first women’s bout took place later that month as Malloy outpointed Heather Poyner in Lynnwood, Wash.
In 1997, USA Boxing hosted the first-ever Women’s National Championships in Augusta, Ga. Sixty-six women competed in this historical event. One year later, the second Women’s National Championships in Anaheim, Calif., drew over 100 boxers and featured the addition of a junior division to include females ages 15 and 16. The U.S. Championships has continued to grow each year since. In July of 1998, the U.S. participated in their first-ever women's international dual in Scranton, Pa. The U.S. defeated Canada 6-1.
The inaugural Women’s World Championships was held in 2001 in Scranton, Pa., and since that point, the U.S. has fielded teams in each of the Women's World Championships. The number of competitors and participating nations has grown each year, culminating in the 2010 event featuring 300 boxers from over 75 nations. Heavyweight Devonne Canady claimed the first gold medal for the United States in 2001 and welterweight Andrecia Wasson won the second world title for Team USA in 2010.
Females are now a large part of USA Boxing and can compete in sanctioned amateur competition within the United States and internationally. Currently, approximately 3,000 female boxers register with USA Boxing each year. Rules regarding women’s boxing are similar to the men’s program with a few minor differences including: the optional use of breast protectors and groin protectors, and a required waiver stating that the participant is not pregnant at the time of competition, and a difference in the number and time of rounds.