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What is white collar boxing? How does it fit in?

What is White Collar Boxing? How does it fit in?

To the uniformed all boxing is the same. A game where two participants, wearing padded gloves get in a ring and hit each other. However, and as ever with things, there are different permutations of boxing and whilst differences may well be subtle, differences do exist.

It’s important to not under emphasis this point, boxing is indeed a game where two people get in a ring, wearing padded gloves and hit each other. There are no differences in the nature of the game. It’s always two people, always limited to punching and always played across a fixed duration (aka round(s)). Put brutally, the aim of the game is to concuss your opponent, or in a slightly more gentile way, you win if you knock out your opponent, get them to retire, have the referee stop the bout, have their corner team stop the bout or indeed accumulate more points within the allocated duration of the bout. The key differences exist in the conditions, terms and rules under which the game (aka bout) takes place.

Taking Amateur Boxing first, this is the accepted Olympic Sport of boxing with rules set and governed by the AIBA (International Boxing Association) and its constituent members. Amateur Boxing bouts take place in a specific sized ring, under the watchful eye of a referee and at least 3 (sometimes 5 depending on the actual competition) judges. There may or may not also be an electronic scoring system in place. Participants in Amateur bouts are required to wear 10oz or 12oz gloves (depending on the body weight of the participants), gumshields and groin protection. Since 2013, regulation concerning the use of headguards in Amateur boxing has been removed, as it has been considered that there is lower risk of brain injury if participants do not wear this type of protection.

Boxers are matched on the basis of body weight and age (the maximum age for an amateur boxer is 40). This provides for a fairly level playing field in regards to the physical attributes of the individual boxers. The bout is won as previously stated (KO or stoppage), with the scoring system in Amatuer boxing now closely resembling the 10 points system commonly seen in professional boxing bouts. Specifically at the end of a round judges award the round winner 10 points, awarding the losing participant 9 or less (depending on their performance in the round.) The boxer with the higher number of points at the end of the bout is declared the winner.

In Professional boxing much is the same. The bout is typically judged by 3 judges, each using the same scoring system as detailed. The specific rules and conditions under which the bout occurs however is often set by the regulations laid down by the specific professional governing body (for example WBC, WBA, IBF etc) and/or the local boxing commission. In most cases professional bouts are contested across multiple rounds (up to 12) each lasting 2 to 3 minutes. One of the key aspects to Professional boxing is that participants must hold a licence to qualify themselves as fit to fight. Unlike Amateur boxing, there is no upper age in Professional boxing, however the provision of the licensing regulations ensures that boxers must qualify as medically fit in order to hold a valid professional boxing licence.

This is someway is used to safeguard the health and wellbeing of the participants.

Whilst boxers are matched in regards to weight, they can be more loosely matched in age and experience in Professional bouts. Given the fact that Professional bouts are effectively “prize” fights and participants are paid and promoters are focused on the commercial return available to them, sometimes less legitimate promoters can be given to arranging mismatched contests in favour of their “chosen” fighter, Technically, however the scoring system remains the same as that used in the Amateur game, as does the requirement for protective equipment.

So what is White Collar Boxing? White Collar bouts are essentially boxing bouts which fall outside of the regulations stipulated by Amateur or Professional boxing bodies. White Collar boxing had its beginnings in the late 1980s at Gleason’s Gym in New York. With the then gym owner arranging informal fights between the white collar workers who frequented the gym. Across the 1990’s white collar boxing events and participation grew, with events being organised by many boxing gyms within the USA and UK.

Whilst regulatory bodies for White Collar boxing do exist (IWCBA and WWCBA being the main regulatory bodies) there is no obligation for local promoters to be part of or affiliated to these. Essentially White Collar boxing remains unlicensed and whilst there is a widely accepted system of rules (which mirror those within the Amateur and Professional game) there is little other common regulation. Most White Collar bouts are fought across 3 rounds of 2 minutes (sometimes 3 minutes). There are typically two approaches taken to scoring. Either the referee is also determined to be the judge of the bout and will award a winner at the conclusion of the bout (WWCBA rules), or the bout is declared a “no-decision” draw in the absence of a knock-out (IWCBA rules).

The requirement for safety equipment is similar to that stipulated by Amateur and Professional codes, however again variations locally can be determined specific promotions (for example, weight of gloves used, provision of head guards and groin/abdominal protection). Usually considered promotions will have boxers use 16oz gloves, regardless of body weight, often also requiring the use of head guards and abdominal protection. Within White Collar bouts there is no formal regulation to ensure fighters are matched evenly in regards to weight, age or experience, fundamentally this is open to the promotion to ensure. Moreover whilst legitimate organisations will have a medical screening programme for would be participants in place, there is no formal obligation to be a “licensed boxer” such as there is in Amateur or Professional bouts.

Most White Collar bouts are undertaken as charitable events and whilst the nature of the game remains the same as it is in Amateur or Professional bouts, the provision of a safe, well matched contest is fundamental. Often promotions will ensure that all participants are trained equally prior to the bouts and matched against opponents of similar ability and weight.

The approach taken to participation and training for any boxing event should however be no different. To ensure their safety participants should maximise every opportunity to refine, develop and reinforce their boxing skill. Weight management should be approached in a structured way, with weight reduction (if necessary) being approached in a progressive manner. Moreover, and particularly important in White Collar boxing, attention must be given to the medical suitability and physical condition of participants, with checks and measures being in place to ensure the safety and protection of participants at every point.

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