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Amateur boxing (sometimes called Olympic boxing) is a variant of boxing practised at the collegiate level, at the Olympic Games, Pan American Games and Commonwealth Games, as well as many associations.
Amateur boxing bouts are short in duration, comprising three rounds of three minutes in men, and four rounds of two minutes in women, each with a one-minute interval between rounds. Men's senior bouts changed in format from four two-minute rounds to three three-minute rounds on January 1, 2009. This type of competition prizes point-scoring blows, based on number of clean punches landed, rather than physical power. Also, this short format allows tournaments to feature several bouts over several days, unlike professional boxing, where fighters rest several months between bouts.
A referee monitors the fight to ensure that competitors use only legal blows (a belt worn over the torso represents the lower limit of punches – any boxer repeatedly landing "low blows" is disqualified). Referees also ensure that the boxers do not use holding tactics to prevent the opponent from punching (if this occurs, the referee separates the opponents and orders them to continue boxing. Repeated holding can result in a boxer being penalized, or ultimately, disqualified). Referees have to stop the bout if a boxer is seriously injured, or if one boxer is significantly dominating the other.
Amateur boxing emerged as a sport during the mid-to-late 19th century, partly as a result of the moral controversies surrounding professional prize-fighting. Originally lampooned as an effort by upper and middle-class gentlemen to co-opt a traditionally working class sport, the safer, "scientific" style of boxing found favor in schools, universities and in the armed forces, although the champions still usually came from among the urban poor.
The Queensberry Amateur Championships continued from 1867 to 1885, and so, unlike their professional counterparts, amateur boxers did not deviate from using gloves once the Queensberry Rules had been published. In England, the Amateur Boxing Association (A.B.A.) was formed in 1880 when twelve clubs affiliated. It held its first championships the following year. Four weight classes were contested: Featherweight (9 stone), Lightweight (10 stone), Middleweight (11 stone, 4 pounds) and Heavyweight (no limit). (A stone is equal to 14 pounds.) By 1902, American boxers were contesting the titles in the A.B.A. Championships, which, therefore, took on an international complexion. By 1924, the A.B.A. had 105 clubs in affiliation.
Boxing first appeared at the Olympic Games in 1904 and, apart from the Games of 1912, has always been part of them. From 1904 to 2016, the United States and Cuba won the most gold medals; 50 for the U.S. (114 overall) and 21 (73 overall) for Cuba. Internationally, amateur boxing spread steadily throughout the first half of the 20th century, but when the first international body, the Fédération Internationale de Boxe Olympique (International Olympic Boxing Federation) was formed in Paris in 1920, there were only five member nations.
In 1946, however, when the International Amateur Boxing Association (A.I.B.A.) was formed in London, twenty-four nations from five continents were represented, and the A.I.B.A. has continued to be the official world federation of amateur boxing ever since. The first World Amateur Boxing Championships were staged in 1974, prior to that only regional championships took place, the only worldwide event apart from the Olympics were World Military Boxing Championships first conducted in 1947 and ever since by the CISM.
The results of amateur boxing match-ups are usually registered, protocolled, and published in a local, regional, national or international press, and broadcast by various media (depending on type, level and importance of the match, and athletes participating,) from the largest international media Associated Press, United Press International, Reuters, covering the major international events, to bulletin-board-type of newspapers covering local events. Bouts which end this way may be noted in English or in French (which was the AIBA official language.) Amateur boxing does not recognize terms "knockout," and "technical knockout," instead it use the following euphemisms:
|Abbreviation||Meaning||Professional boxing equivalent|
|RSC||kot||referee stops contest (unspecified)||technical knockout|
|RSCO||referee stops contest for an outclassed opponent|
|RSCOS||referee stops contest for an outscored opponent|
|RSCH||referee stops contest due to hard blows to the head|
|RSCM||referee stops contest due to medical reasons||referee technical decision|
|RSCI||referee stops contest due to injury|
|RET||AB||corner retirement or quitting|
|KO||ko||boxer on the canvas for ten seconds||same|
|WO||forfeit||walkover, a victory by default (due to an opponent's absence)||no contest|
|Bye||round bypass||no competition|
All wins, losses, or mismatches except for those achieved by way of a clean knockout, or in absentia, are disputable, and could be contested legally through an appeal to the governing bodies.
Amateur boxing to this day have several scoring systems, depending on the tournament regulations and sanctioning authority. Several archaic score systems, that survived to the 1980s (and in some places to this day,) the first of which is a 3-point system, which gave one point for each of three rounds (therefore 3–0 stands for a clean victory by points, 2–1 means that defeated opponent dominated one round, 1–1–1 stands for a draw or ex aequo, which was a very rare occurance.) It coexisted for a long time with 3-vote decision system, and 5-vote decision system, which resembled professional boxing decision-making system, it took five judges voting either for victory or a draw (in the 5-vote system, 5–0 stands for unanimous decision, 4–1 for majority decision, 3–2 for split decision, 3–1–1 for split decision and one judge ruled a draw. In the 3-vote system, 3–0 stands for unanimous decision, 2–1 for split decision, 0–0–3 for a draw, with no majority decision option.) Depending on the tournament regulations an extra round or rounds could be appointed on the sudden death principle if there was no clear winner. All metioned systems were practised in combination with each other (i.e. judges were supposed not only to pick up a winner, but also to fill-in scorecards,) creating complexity with points, scorecards, etc. Tournaments and championships usually employed the 5-vote system. International duals usually employed the 3-vote system, with two judges represented the guest nation, and one judge represented the host nation. Both systems lead to a number of controversial and officially contested results, as punch statistics (thrown-to-landed) mostly wasn't accounted for by either one. At the 1960 Rome Olympics preliminaries, after Soviet Oleg Grigoryev was ruled a winner over Great Britain's Francis Taylor, British Olympic Committee officials complained to the IOC, which lead IOC to relieve some 15 of the referees and judges of their duties before the quarterfinals. After the 1988 Seoul Olympics controversy, when the clearly dominant finalist Roy Jones Jr. (whom even the Soviet judges ruled to be a winner, let alone the referee and his beaten opponent, who himself apologized for the injustice) was virtually robbed of the gold medal, a new system was created and implemented, where only clean punches score, though a controversy still exist as to what is a clean punch in one's personal opinion, leading to another dubious results. The semifinals of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics proved the new points system susceptible to controversy as well, when Kazakhstani Vassiliy Jirov was pronounced a 15–9 score winner over U.S. Antonio Tarver, with many U.S. observers were left confused, for they favoured Tarver, believing he was dominant through the entire bout.
|Scoring system||Decision options|
|Unanimous decision||Majority decision||Split decision||Draw (in rarest cases)|
|5-vote decision||5–0||4–1||3–2||2–2–1, 2–1–2, or 1–1–3|
|3-vote decision||3–0||none||2–1||1–1–1 or 0–0–3|
|Points decision||none||none||none||in case of both score equal|
Computer scoring was introduced to the Olympics in 1992. Each of the five judges had a keypad with a red and a blue button. The judges pressed a button for which ever corner they felt landed a scoring blow. Three out of the five judges had to press the button for the same boxer within a one-second window in order for the point to score. A legal scoring blow was that which is landed cleanly with the knuckle surface of the glove, within the scoring area from the middle of the head, down the sides and between the hips through the belly button.
The AIBA introduced a new scoring system in January 2011. Each judge gives an individual score for each boxer. The score given to each boxer would be taken from 3 out of 5 judges either by similar score or trimmed mean. Scores are no longer tracked in real time and are instead given at the end of each round.
In March 13, 2013, the computer scoring system was abandoned, with amateur boxing instead using the ten point must system, similar to professional boxing.
Amateur boxing awards system in essence duplicates the Olympic awards system with minor differences:
- Winner of the final round receives gold medal (1st place)
- Other finalist receives silver medal (2nd place)
- Semifinalists, who didn't qualify for the finals, receive bronze medal (3rd place)
- In some tournaments, where only one third place available (instead of usual two,) or where semifinals produce more than two bronze claimants, 3rd place bouts constitute a separate round.
|Second and third place finalists are usually presented with silver and bronze medals.|
The United States tournaments and championships, contrary to European equivalent, usually do not award silver medals and bronze medals for 2nd and 3rd place respectively, as they acknowledge only the winners. Hence its colloquial name "Golden Gloves" (implying the winner takes all principle, which they are based upon.) This is a parallel to professional boxing, which also doesn't use such terms as "second place" or "third place," it accepts only "champion" and "challenger".
In March 2016, protective headgear that had been in use since 1982 was removed from men's competition due to higher concussion rates occurring in fights using headgear than in fights without the headgear. Women's competition was unaffected, as the AIBA announced that there wasn't enough data on its effects on women. This ruling was in place at the 2016 Summer Olympics. 
On several occasions in the 1990s, professional boxers resumed their amateur careers, namely: Nikolay Kulpin and Oleg Maskayev in 1993, Nikolai Valuev in 1994, Ruslan Chagaev in 1998 (Chagaev was reinstated as an amateur by the AIBA, as the organization stripped him of the championship title for undeclared professional bouts.)
In June 2016, professional boxers were admitted in the Olympic Games and other tournaments sanctioned by the AIBA. This was done in part to level the playing field and give all of the athletes the same opportunities government-sponsored boxers from socialist countries and post-Soviet republics have. However, professional organizations strongly opposed that decision.
Contrary to professional boxing, which utilizes lineal system, amateur boxing events are different in principle (although professional and amateur cards could appear much similar to each other.) There are following types of competiton in amateur boxing:
|Games||Quadrennial boxing events at the Olympic, regional, and sub-regional multi-sport games, are the highest-profile events in amateur boxing.||Governing bodies usually send their local representatives to attend the events, oversee and ensure the results.|
|There are also some differences between the Olympic boxing and amateur championship boxing, as boxing was introduced to the Olympics in 1904, and the world championships were first held seven decades later, in 1974 (the Val Barker Trophy resulted from those differences.)|
|Championships||Championships are second in importance to the games. Both require prior qualification to participate in.|
|Cups||Cups are events of intermediate importance between championships and regular tournaments.|
|Challenge||Challenge is a type of contest, which allows reigning Olympic and world champions, cup winners, regional games medalists, to compete versus each other and against top-ranked amateurs in-between the games and championships, matching them directly and thus negating the jiggering effects of complicated elimination systems.|
|Tournaments||Tournaments could be either A-class (Olympic and World Championship qualifiers,) or B-class (other.) Tournaments are the stepping stones for cups and championships.|
|Duals||Duals are two-team match-ups. Competitors are teamed-up either locally, nationally, regionally, or by the club, or branch of service. Winning team usually hosts the next dual.||Duals and local match-ups are refereed and judged by the arranging authority usually on 50/50 basis.)|
|Local match-ups||Locally-arranged low-profile events, which usually do not affect any ratings or rankings.|
Championships are usually divided into the following age-limited subcategories:
The following ring-experience-oriented divisions are usually represented at tournaments:
There are also specific types of contest for servicemen and jailed people:
In terms of weight classes contests could be either:
Absolute championships without weight limits completely or in two weight classes (over/under 91 kilogram) took place in socialist countries in the absence of professional boxing, allowing to determine country's undisputed champion regardless of weight (over 91: usually contested by light heavyweights and heavyweights; under 91: contested by middleweights with significant other advantages to compensate the weight disparity.) Competitions other than absolute, always had strict weight regulations, weigh-in procedures, etc.
Essentially, there are three governing bodies in amateur boxing, which rule internationally:
- International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA,) established 1946, responsible for amateur boxing events in general (with World Boxing Championships and Boxing World Cup being the top of it.) National amateur boxing associations and boxing committees are subjected to its decisions, rules, and regulations. Boxing committees of national amateur sports organizations, though not directly subjected to AIBA, abide by its general rules (three rounds, three-minute rounds, protective equipment, standing eight count, three knockdown rule, etc.) with minor locally-imposed regulations.
- International Olympic Committee (IOC,) established 1894, responsible for boxing events at the Olympic Games. National Olympic boxing selection committees, which undertook national Olympic qualifying tournaments are subjected to IOC decisions (Olympic box-offs, which ultimately qualify athletes for the Olympic Games, held under the auspices of national olympic committees, while Olympic trials, that precede the box-offs, held by national athletic associations.)
- International Military Sports Council (CISM,) established 1948, responsible for boxing events at the Military World Games, and World Military Boxing Championships.
Disbanded governing bodies
- International Amateur Boxing Federation (FIBA,) established 1920, the AIBA predecessor, disbanded shortly after the World War II.
- International Association for Sports and Physical Culture (SASI,) established 1920, the IOC Communist-twin, which was responsible for boxing events at the International Workers' Olympiads (Socialist equivalent to the Olympics at the times when the socialist countries ignored the Western-hosted Olympiads.) Disbanded in 1946 after the USSR was allowed to join IOC and AIBA.
- International University Sports Federation (FISU,) was responsible for boxing events at the Universiades (discontinued.)
- Goodwill Games Organizing Committee (constisting partly of the U.S. and Soviet Sports Committee) was responsible for boxing events at the Goodwill Games.
Collegiate-level boxing competitions are usually regulated nationally by local collegiate sports organizations (National Collegiate Athletic Association sanctioned collegiate boxing championships of the U.S. from 1948 to 1960. National Collegiate Boxing Association was created in 1978.)
There are several different amateur sanctioning bodies in the United States, including the National AAU Boxing Committee, Golden Gloves Association of America and United States Amateur Boxing Federation (presently known as USA Boxing.)
The Golden Gloves is an amateur boxing tournament that is fought at both the national level and the regional level. Although the Golden Gloves typically refers to the National Golden Gloves, it can also refer to the Intercity Golden Gloves, the Chicago Golden Gloves, the New York Golden Gloves, and other regional Golden Gloves tournaments. The winners of the regional tournaments fight in a national competition annually.
USA Boxing also sanctions a national tournament to determine who will compete on the United States national boxing team at the Olympic Games (either directly qualifying for the Olympics or through worldwide or regional qualifying tournaments). 
Since 1969, amateur boxing in Canada has been regulated by the Canadian Amateur Boxing Association (Boxing Canada) and the various member provincial associations.
Some of the main tournaments include Provincial Championships, Golden Gloves, Silver Gloves, Emerald Gloves and Buckskin Gloves.
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