Pre-Bout Rituals

Oct. 16, 2008, 11:43 a.m. (ET)

Every boxer needs to be prepared before presenting themselves to the ring, ready to box. The referee's first job, when you enter the ring, is to inspect each boxer, making sure each is complying with rules and regulations regarding safety equipment and outfitting. A boxer who appears ready to box sends a message to the referee: that she is "all business" and respects the rules of the sport. As a boxer, an uneventful pre-bout inspection by the referee will mean that the start of the bout will go smoothly. Sometimes a few of the rules/regulations give boxers trouble, and are mentioned below:

Hair. Some women and men wear long hair, and it must be contained when competing. The hair should not protrude through the top or front of the headgear, and may only extend a few inches out of the back. A boxer is permitted to use a hairnet, du-rag, or bandana to contain hair, as well as rubber bands and tape. Metal objects (pins or barrettes) are prohibited. Note that in 2009, AIBA's rule is that headgear will be placed on the boxer once they've entered the ring, so be prepared for the corner coach to fit headgear just before the prebout inspection by the referee.

Vaseline. Boxers are permitted a thin coat of Vasaline or other petrolum jelly rubbed into the face. It may not be clumped on the face, and may not be rubbed into the headgear or the shoulders.

Outfitting. For many female boxers, finding a good-fitting uniform is difficult, especially these days when the fashion is to wear long trunks. Boxing regulations stipulate that trunks may not extend past the top of the knee. If you like to wear your waistband low, then roll the waistband or hem the trunks so that the bottom hem of the leg does not extend past the top of the knee.

Protectors. Breast and groin protectors are optional for female boxers. If asked if you are wearing one, answer the referee. Options for breast protectors include an additional sports bra, "Turtle Shells," or other plastic cups, and full plastic shields. Groin protectors also come in many shapes and sizes.

Superstitions and things within your control. Over the years I've met a number of boxers who are superstitious. I understand the impulse to be superstitious, however for boxers, superstitions can be frustrating because sometimes things change in the pre-bout ritual. If you are looking for a lucky something to give you a mental edge, focus on something within your control, such as which hand is gloved first, which foot you put through the ropes first, what you do when you first enter the ring, how you tie your shoes, or another ritual that you control. These kinds of things will always be within your control, and you can make certain that you can do any of those your way, every time. One or two superstitions are fine, but more than that will preoccupy your mind and distract you from the business of boxing. The best luck is the kind you make yourself, by being prepared mentally and physically for your match. Train like you want to perform, and you will be able to trust your training and enjoy your bout.