One of the most prestigious events in Olympic history, boxing began at the Ancient Games with bouts that often ended with death, fought with long strips of leather wrapped around boxers' fists or gloves with spikes and weighted lead.
Jim Neilly, BBC Sport
"I think Team GB's English super heavyweight Anthony Joshua has got a very good chance of winning a gold medal. The Cubans maybe aren't as strong as they used to be though, with the Russians now being very competitive."
Lucy Abel, BBC Sport
"Only ourselves and Russia have the full quota of three women boxers. Savannah Marshall is the first British woman to be crowned world champion and is the favourite for the gold medal at 75kg. Lightweight Katie Taylor from Ireland has been an inspiration to female boxers across the globe."
A number of great champions have made their name at the Games, including Hungarian Laszlo Papp, the great Cuban Felix Savon, and the USA's Oscar de la Hoya.
Probably the most famous of them all, though, was Cassius Marcellus Clay, who won gold in the light heavyweight contest in Rome in 1960.
He later went on to become perhaps the greatest professional heavyweight boxer of all time under the name Muhammad Ali.
London will host another momentous step in the history of the sport as women will compete in Olympic boxing for the first time.
Why is it good for you?
As boxing provides intense cardiovascular exercise, it is an efficient way to improve the strength of your heart.
One hour on a punch bag would burn approximately 354 calories, an hour's sparring would burn approximately 531 calories and an actual hour-long fight would burn approximately 708 calories. Some clubs also offer sessions that are more fitness-based than actual boxing.
The US-based Centres for Disease Control Prevention reported that boxing provided the best mixture of exercise for people whose goal is to decrease their risk of obesity, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis and cancer.
Training sessions are an excellent way to develop communication skills and learn to work effectively with other people. Clubs also offer a variety of social events beyond simply taking part in the sport.
Boxing is a dynamic sport that teaches physical and mental discipline, and the best way to
is to join a local club.
London 2012 weight divisions
Light fly (49kg), fly (52kg), bantam (56kg), light (60kg), light welter (64kg), welter (69kg), middle (75kg), light heavy (81kg), heavy (91kg), super heavy (+91kg)
Fly (51kg), light (60kg), middle (75kg)
To ensure safety, it is vital all contact sessions are overseen by a qualified coach and you buy the correct equipment before you start.
Beginners will need gloves, gum shields, head gear, boots and shorts, with easy access to punching bags also essential.
The Amateur Boxing Association's
can help you locate your nearest centre in England, while in Wales you can contact the
Welsh Amateur Boxing Association
by calling 01446 794 444.
Amateur Boxing Association of Scotland
Irish Amateur Boxing Association
websites also contain further information as to how you can get involved.
As it involves high-energy exercise, leisure and sport centres, gyms and universities throughout the United Kingdom offer boxing-based sessions which allow people who want to avoid full contact to partake in the sport.
More on the GB Boxing website
Want to get involved with sport in your local community? Why not Join In ?
'Join In Local Sport'
aims to get as many people as possible to turn up and take part in activities at their local sports facilities on
18/19 August, 2012
- the first weekend between the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The aim of the initiative is for every sports club and community group in the UK to put on a special event in a bid to encourage more people to get involved as members, supporters or volunteers.
More than 4,000 local sports clubs will be opening their doors to host events and show people just how they can get involved.
As well as tips on playing sport there will be information on coaching, supporting and how to help out.
Find an event
The competition format at London 2012
- From Saturday 28 July to Sunday 12 August 286 athletes (250 men, 36 women) will compete at the ExCeL Arena.
- Men's bouts will take place over three rounds of three minutes each, women's contests will have four rounds of two minutes.
- All Boxing events will be run in a knockout format. There are 250 men and 36 women competing, with each country limited to one entrant in each category.
- Within each division, the opponents for matches are decided by a lottery draw.
- The winners of the semi-finals fight for gold and silver in the final, with both semi-final losers awarded a bronze.
More on the London 2012 website
The rules at London 2012
All boxers must be at least 17 years old, be no older than 34 and must be amateur athletes. Boxers score points for every punch they land successfully on their opponent's head or upper body.
Five judges score each bout, and a boxer scores a point when they deliver a blow that, without being blocked or guarded, lands directly with the knuckle part of the closed glove of either hand on any part of the front or sides of the head or body above the belt.
Can you compete?
Get your performance under pressure analysed in just 20 minutes by four-time Olympic gold medallist Michael Johnson
The scores in each round are the average of a combination of the three judges' scores which are the closest (called 'Similar Score').
The boxer with the most points wins the bout, but if a boxer cannot get up after 10 seconds it is classed as a knockout and the bout is over.
Warnings can be applied in each round. When warnings are applied to a boxer, two points are awarded to his/her opponent.
A referee can also stop the fight for a disqualification or if they feel one athlete is not in a fit state to continue.
In case of a draw of the final scores, the lowest and highest total scores from the judges will be deleted. The winner will be determined by the total score from the three remaining judges.
If the scores are still tied, judges will be asked to press the button once for the boxer they think is the winner. The decision is made by taking the majority of the five judges.
If both boxers are disqualified there will be no winner. The bout could be declared 'no contest' due to a technical incident beyond the responsibility of the boxers.
In the men's, boxers compete in bouts of three rounds, each lasting three minutes, with a one-minute rest period between rounds.
In the women's, boxers compete in bouts of four rounds, each lasting two minutes, with a one-minute rest period between rounds.
More on the Team GB website
Ones to watch
Team GB stand a good chance of medalling in both the men's and women's competition.
Four of the seven men selected medalled at the 2011 World Championship, with silvers for
The women's trio are highly fancied following the World Championship in May, when middleweight
won gold and
Ukraine's men's team won four golds at the 2011 World Championship. One of those was lightweight
who is a hot favourite to retain his Olympic title.
Cuba, as ever, will be formidable foes - watch out for light heavyweight
Julio César la Cruz.
In the women's tournament, Ireland's
has won four successive world titles.
The history of competitive fist-fighting dates back thousands of years, with the earliest records of boxing in Egypt in 3000BC.
Great Olympic moment
Cassius Clay - who later became Muhammad Ali - won the light heavyweight gold medal in 1960. The 18-year-old won a unanimous decision over Zbigniew Pietrzykowski of Poland.
Boxing was one of the cornerstones of the ancient Olympic Games in Greece from the 23rd Olympiad in 688BC. Pugilism, as the Greeks called it, prohibited clinching and had no weight classes, rounds or time limit.
Boxing wasn't on the itinerary of ancient Olympic sports that made up the first modern Games in 1896 as it was considered "ungentlemanly, dangerous and practised by the dregs of society".
Things have moved on considerably since boxing was introduced to the ancient Olympic Games in the 7th century BC, and even in the 108 years since the sport made its Olympic debut there have been major changes, such as headguards being made mandatory in 1984 and electronic scoring arriving in 1992.
However, none of those can match the significance of the three women's events - flyweight, lightweight and middleweight - scheduled for introduction in London.
More on the IOC website