How to Become a Boxer: Requirements & Career Info

You've seen the movies -- now find out what it takes to become a professional boxer in real life. Read on to learn about qualifications, requirements, licensing and potential pay. Schools offering Sports Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

Professional boxers are a rare breed -- strong, fast, in superb physical condition and highly trained in the art of beating other people up. The best of the best become world famous, but you don't have to be the next Mike Tyson to make some money as a boxer. If you can hold your own in the ring and win more than you lose, a professional boxing career could be within your reach.

The chart below shows some of the requirements, the potential pay and the anticipated demand for boxing pros in the foreseeable future.

Education Required None
Training Requirements Continuous physical training
Other Requirements Physicals or pre-fight medical exam required in most states
Licensure Pros must be licensed by state boxing commissions
Job Growth (2016-26) 7% (for all professional athletes and sports competitors)*
Median Pay (2017) $51,370 (for all professional athletes and sports competitors)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Where Do I Start?

Preferably, young! Many elite boxers start as children or teenagers, training in boxing clubs in their hometowns. Children as young as 8 can fight in amateur bouts in some states, while professionals are required to be at least 18. Amateur boxing is widespread in the United States, and a standout record as an amateur is the normal route to going pro.

The Golden Gloves organization sponsors annual amateur U.S. championships. The world's best amateur boxers compete every four years in the Summer Olympics, where a gold medal is the supreme prize.

What Kind of Training is Required?

Boxers undergo grueling training to get in top physical condition and master boxing tactics. Weight lifting, cardio, running, jump-rope, speed bag, heavy bag and sparring are all part of a boxer's training. Boxers also must maintain a healthy diet, striving to weigh in near the top of their weight class.

Are Boxers Licensed?

Pro boxers in the U.S. and amateur boxers in some states have to be licensed by state athletic commissions. Requirements differ by state, but they often involve a medical exam certifying that a candidate is fit to fight. In some states, moral character and reputation are also a factor.

What Are the Steps to Going Pro?

Most successful boxers will forge alliances with a team of professionals in the business, including a trainer, a manager and ideally a promoter. The trainer and manager may or may not be the same person; the trainer will focus on making the boxer a better fighter, while the manager is the boxer's agent, responsible for setting up matches and negotiating payments. A good promoter will work to publicize the fights, build fan anticipation and turn bouts into media events.

How Much Do Pro Boxers Make?

There are no reliable figures on the average salaries of professional boxers. The most trustworthy data comes from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which includes all professional athletes and sports competitors, including the thousands of pro players on football, baseball, basketball, hockey and other teams. Their median pay in 2017 was $51,370. Many pro boxers are paid in the hundreds or low thousands per fight ($500-$2500) at the beginning of their careers, and fights may be few and far between.

The real money, of course, is at the world-class level. According to MoneyInc.com's 2018 list of the 20 richest boxers in history, Floyd Mayweather Jr. leads the card with a net worth of $400 million. George Foreman weighs in at $250 million, Oscar De La Hoya at $200 million, Manny Pacquiao at $190 million and Lennox Lewis at $140 million. And the late, great Muhammad Ali died in 2016 with a reported net worth of $50 million.

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