Although those who take part in boxing contests are frequently referred to as pugilists, it ia scarcely correct so to describe them. Pugilism was the term applied in earlier days to those who fought each other with bare knuckles, when there were few if any rules to govern the sport.
To-day, contests in the ring are far more scientific than were the old mills of the bare-fist fighters, and they are conducted strictly according to a specially framed codo of rules.
As in many other sports, there are both amateur and professional sides to boxing, but no amateur is allowed to meet a professional, except in special circumstances and by permission of the ruling body.
In the United Kingdom, all professional contests take place under the rules of the National Sporting Club in a roped ring, measuring not more than 20 feet square, nor less than 14 feet square. The gloves used in the official British championships weigh 6 oz. Each. The number of rounds, which are of three minutes duration with a minutes interval between, vary from 3 to 20, and points are awarded to the contestants on the merit displayed in attack and defence, the winner being the one who scores most points during the contest.
It often happens that a contest is ended before the full number of rounds has been fought, either by a knock out or by one of the contestants being disqualified for an infringement of the rules.
A victory by a knock out is achieved when one of the boxers knocks down his opponent with such effect that he is unable to continue the contest by the time ten seconds have been counted. Ho is then said to be counted out. While any part of his body is touching the floor of the ring, a boxer is regarded as being down, even though he may be on one or both feet at the time.
Should a boxer hit his opponent below the belt, or if he is guilty of persistent holding, butting, or hitting with an open glove, the referee has power to disqualify him and award the contest to his adversary.
To give a more or less even opportunity to both contestants, standard weights at which contests take place have been instituted. They are: fly weight, 8 st.; bantam weight, 8 st. 6 lb.; featherweight, 9 St.; light weight, 9 st. 9 lb.; welterweight, 10 st. 7 lb.; middle weight, 11 st. 6 lb.; light heavy-weight, 12 st. 7 lb.; heavy weight, any weight.
Amateur boxing is controlled by the Amateur Boxing Association, which was founded in 188-1, and championships are held annually.