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How Do You Become A Professional Boxer (A Comprehensive Guide)

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Written By: Richard Magallanes
Last Updated: July 20, 2023

If you've ever wondered what it takes to lace up the gloves and step into the squared circle, you're in the right place.

Becoming a professional boxer is a road that requires dedication, discipline, and plenty of heart.

This guide will walk you through the path towards becoming a professional pugilist.

Key takeaways

  • Amateur boxing serves as the training ground for potential professionals, focusing on technique and scoring points.
  • Finding the right gym and coach is crucial - choose someone invested in your development.
  • Master fundamentals like footwork and defense before moving to advanced tactics.
  • Gain experience through local tournaments and fight camps to transition to the pro level.
  • Professional boxing requires serious commitment to intense training, nutrition, recovery, and competition.

The main differences between amateur and professional boxing

There a couple of main differences between amateur and professional boxers, such as:

  • Rules: Amateurs are given an 8 count to recover from a hard shot, while professional fighters are scored on the same system as the amateur code, but with the ultimate end goal of wanting to knock out their opponent before the contest ends.
  • Fight length: Amateur bouts are short in duration and are made up of three, three-minute rounds for men, while women fight over four two-minute rounds. Male professional fights can be up to 12, three-minute rounds, while women can compete in fights up to 10, two-minute rounds.
  • Pay: Amateur boxers do not receive any payment for the fights they compete in. Professional fighters receive money for their bouts, whether it be from a promoter, sponsor, or other source.
  • Training: Professional boxing is entertainment-oriented, and big hits and knockouts are key. Amateur boxing is sport-oriented, and the aim is to score points. In amateur boxing, one needs to have fast hands and feet to do well. The amateur boxing style involves quick strikes because the boxer will be throwing one, two, or jab, then move in and out of range. For professional boxing, a boxer looks for the big shot and knocks out more often. The boxers plant their feet more and throw powerful shots at their opponent.
  • Safety gear: Amateurs wear protective headgear and 12oz gloves. Professional boxers wear 8oz - 10oz gloves and no headgear. Both amateur and professional boxing wear mouth guards.
  • Fight style: Amateur boxing focuses more on point scoring. Pro boxing allows for more complex styles and strategies. Amateur competitions are more like a sprint due to only being three rounds long. Pro boxing is more like a marathon (that are sprints every round).
  • Regulation: Amateur boxing is regulated by organizations like AIBA, NCBA, USIBA, etc. Pro boxing is governed by the State Athletic Commissions, regulated by IBF, WBA, WBC, WBO, and ABC (there's a lot, I know).
  • Competition: The Olympics is the pinnacle for an amateur boxing career. For pros, it's becoming a world champion.

Amateur boxing

Amateur boxing and professional boxing are two different beasts, despite their common thread.

Amateur boxing often serves as the training ground for potential pros, focusing more on technique, scoring points, and sportsmanship.

Fights are shorter, usually 3 rounds, and boxers wear headgear for protection.

Pro boxing

Professional boxing, on the other hand, is a full-contact sport where the goal is to defeat your opponent by way of knockout or points over a higher number of rounds (up to 12).

Headgear is not used, and the gloves are lighter, emphasizing power and technique.

Starting your journey as an amateur boxer

The path to professional boxing begins at the amateur level.

Joining a local boxing club is usually the first step.

Amateur boxing serves as your foundation, teaching you the basic skills and providing a safe environment to develop your abilities.

You'll participate in controlled bouts and tournaments, gaining valuable ring experience while improving your technique, timing, and fitness.

Find the right boxing gym

The choice of a gym can greatly influence your boxing journey.

Choose a gym that not only offers high-quality boxing training but also has a culture that supports your goals.

It should be a place where you feel comfortable and motivated to train.

Visit multiple boxing gyms and observe their sessions, trainers, and how they handle their fighters.

Find a coach who has your best interests at heart

A coach can make or break a fighter.

Find a coach who not only possesses the technical knowledge but also cares about your development as a boxer and as a person.

They should provide guidance, foster your skills, and push you to your limits while ensuring your safety.

Focus on mastering the fundamentals

Like any sport, boxing requires a strong foundation of fundamental skills.

These include footwork, punching technique, defense, and ring generalship.

Don't rush to advanced tactics.

Instead, patiently hone your basics until they become second nature.

Attain your amateur boxing license

Once you've trained sufficiently and your coach deems you ready, you can apply for an amateur boxing license.

The licensing process varies by country, so consult with your coach and local boxing authority to ensure you meet all requirements.

Speed up your progression with fight camps and competition

Participate in local and regional tournaments to gain competition experience.

Fight camps, where you train intensively for a specific bout, can also help you develop faster.

They simulate the professional environment and help you understand how to prepare for fights mentally and physically.

Transitioning to professional boxing

Making the transition to professional boxing is a major step.

It requires greater commitment, more rigorous training, and involves more risk.

Discuss this step thoroughly with your coach and ensure you're ready for the challenges ahead.

Hone in on your strengths and fix your weaknesses

The path to becoming a professional boxer involves constant self-improvement. Recognize your strengths and develop them to your advantage.

Identify your weaknesses and work diligently to improve them. Regular feedback from your coach is crucial in this process.

Create your own unique style that works

Over time, you'll develop a unique boxing style that suits your abilities and personality.

Whether you're a slick counter-puncher, a hard-hitting slugger, or a nimble-footed boxer, owning your style and honing it will set you apart.

Train your body to be in professional athletic shape

Professional boxing demands top physical condition.

Your training regimen should include strength and conditioning, flexibility, and cardiovascular fitness.

Work closely with your coach to create a training plan tailored to your needs.

Get serious about your nutrition and recovery

Nutrition plays a crucial role in performance and recovery.

Seek advice from a sports nutritionist to develop a diet plan that fuels your training and promotes recovery.

Prioritize sleep and active recovery sessions, as they are key for maintaining physical and mental health.

Find a pro boxing manager

A boxing manager plays a key role in your professional career.

They handle your contracts, arrange fights, and guide your professional progression.

Choose someone experienced, trustworthy, and committed to your career growth.

Attain your pro boxing license

After ensuring you're ready and obtaining a manager, you can apply for a professional boxing license.

This usually requires a thorough medical examination and proof of competence, such as a certain number of amateur fights or a recommendation from a licensed boxing coach.

Climb up the ranks as a pro boxer

Your journey doesn't stop when you turn professional.

You'll need to continuously climb the ranks by winning fights, developing your skills, and proving yourself against higher-level competition.

How to know if the boxing life is for you

Professional boxing is not for everyone. It requires a high level of dedication, sacrifice, and resilience.

Before embarking on this journey, consider whether you are willing to dedicate a significant portion of your life to training, diet, and regular competition.

It's a tough but rewarding path.

The challenges you will face during your pro boxing career

The road to professional boxing is filled with challenges.

You'll face tough training sessions, intense competition, and potential injuries. There will be highs and lows, wins and losses.

It's a journey that tests not just your physical mettle but also your mental fortitude.

The health risks involved in professional boxing bouts

Boxing is a contact sport, and it carries inherent risks.

These include injuries such as concussions and cuts, and long-term health risks related to repeated head trauma.

It's crucial to prioritize your safety, follow best practices, and seek immediate medical attention if needed.

The rewards you can gain as a professional boxer

A professional boxing career can offer many rewards.

Besides potential financial gain, it can also provide personal growth, a sense of accomplishment, and the thrill of competition.

Many boxers find the discipline, resilience, and mental toughness they develop in the ring translate well into other areas of life.

The importance of discipline and patience

Becoming a professional boxer is a marathon, not a sprint.

It requires discipline to maintain your training regimen, diet, and recovery routines.

Patience is crucial, as progress can sometimes be slow and setbacks are inevitable. Stay committed to your goal and trust the process.

Frequently asked questions

Is it hard to become a professional boxer?

Yes, becoming a professional boxer is hard. It requires significant dedication, time, physical and mental strength. It's a highly competitive field where success is earned through perseverance, talent, and hard work.

How many years does it take to become a professional boxer?

This varies widely, but generally, one can expect to spend at least 4 to 5 years in amateur boxing before considering turning professional. This timeline can be shorter or longer based on individual talent, effort, and circumstances.

How do you get into boxing?

You get into boxing by joining a boxing gym and starting training under a knowledgeable coach. Once you've developed basic skills and fitness, you can begin participating in amateur matches.

Is 19 too late to start boxing?

No, 19 is not too late to start boxing. Many successful pro boxers have started in their late teens or even early twenties. However, the earlier you start, the more time you have to develop skills and gain experience.

The bottom line

Becoming a professional boxer is a tough yet rewarding journey.

It's a path that requires heart, dedication, and discipline. It's more than just a sport, it's a lifestyle.

If you're passionate about boxing and ready to put in the work, you can make your dream of becoming a professional boxer a reality.

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