The first records of Boxing date back to around 3,000 BC in Egypt. The sport has been played since the so-called Olympic Games of Antiquity at the end of the 7th century BC, when boxers wore strips of leather to protect their hands and forearms in Ancient Greece. Years later, in Rome, they were replaced with gloves bearing metal reinforcements, but the fights were very bloody and always ended with the death of one of the participants.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, boxing disappeared. The sport made a comeback around the 17th century in England, and an amateur association was officially organised in 1880.
The sport debuted at the St.Louis 1904 Olympic Games. Boxing was left out of the 1912 edition in Stockholm, as Swedish law at the time prohibited combat sports. Boxing returned to the Olympic programme in 1920, when Antwerp, Belgium hosted the Games. In the same year, the International Boxing Federation (known by French acronym Aiba) was founded.
Since then, the rules have evolved: protective headgear became compulsory at the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games, while in the Barcelona 1992 Games, an electronic scoring system was introduced, among other changes.
The London 2012 Games hosted a new development in Olympic boxing: the introduction of three women’s categories – Flyweight (48 to 51 kg), Lightweight (57 to 60 kg) and Middleweight (69 to 75 kg). Men will compete in 10 categories, ranging from Flyweight (46 to 49 kg) up to Super heavyweight (above 91 kg).
Men’s Boxing matches at the Olympic Games consist of three rounds of three minutes each, while women fight four rounds each lasting two minutes. Boxers win points for each blow they land on the head or upper body of their adversary, assessed by a panel of five judges around the ring. Fights also end in case of knockout, retirement or disqualification. Referees may end a bout if they deem one of the opponents unfit to continue.
All the events are run in a single elimination format. The draws consist of 16, 26 or 28 participants, depending on the category. Women compete in draws of 16, or start directly in the quarter-finals. The winners of each side of the bracket fight for gold, and each of the losers in the semi-finals receive a bronze medal.