How Much Do You Know About Boxing?

By: Torrance Grey
Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Boxing is known as "the sweet science," but it's also a harsh sport whose practitioners sometimes suffer adverse consequences, like brain damage, later in life. So why do they do it? For the challenge of proving themselves in the ring and more than that, for the glory. 

The names of some boxers have become legendary. Like Muhammad Ali, formerly Cassius Clay, considered by many to be the greatest fighter of all time. Or Manny Pacquaio, the sensation from the Philippines. Not all of our most beloved boxers are real, even: consider Rocky Balboa, "the Italian Stallion," the main character of a run of movies from 1976 to 2015. 

Despite its toll on physical and mental health, boxing is a big part of Western culture, and probably always will be. Just witness the common expressions that boxing has given us, from "go the distance," "down for the count," and "in (one's) corner." 

How much do you know about boxing? Do you know who fought in the "Rumble in the Jungle"? When would a referee call for a standing eight count? For whom are the formal rules of boxing named? We'll test you on all this and more. See if you can go the distance with our quiz!

How long is a round in boxing (usually)?

Rounds are usually three minutes, with a minute's rest in between. Boxing gyms often have a timer you can set for two- or three-minute rounds, the shorter time being easier for fighters still getting into shape.

What is the name of a person who advises a boxer during the fight?

The "corner" is where the fighter retreats to between rounds; literally, it's the corner of the ring. Therefore, this is also the nickname of the coach or fellow fighter who helps and advises him.

What does "TKO" stand for?

A "technical knockout" happens a fighter isn't literally sent to the mat, but cannot continue fighting due to injuries or altered mental state.

When knocked down, how long does a fighter have to get back up?

If a boxer cannot rise by the end of a referee's ten-count, his or her opponent has won the fight by a knockout. This comes directly from the Marquess of Queensberry rules.

How many knockdowns in one round result in a TKO?

Three knockdowns are a common reason for a TKO being called. A fighter who is knocked down that many times in under three minutes clearly isn't in any shape to keep fighting.

Why does a boxing match have judges?

Fights that don't end decisively, in knockouts or TKOs, need judges to decide the winner. The judges count the blows successfully landed by each fighter and use that as the basis of declaring a winner. Some ringside reporters perform this function informally, telling viewers at home who they saw as winning the bout.

When the judges are not unanimous on the winner of a fight, what is the result called?

When the third judge scores the fight in favor of a different fighter, that's a split decision. When two judges find one fighter to be a winner, but the third considers the fight a draw, that's called a majority decision. Both are wins for the fighter with two judges on his side.

When a fighter is standing, the referee might use a "standing _______ count."

A standing eight count is used to determine if a fighter who is still on his or her feet is alert enough to continue. Not all boxing associations still have a standing eight count in their rules.

Which of these fighters was legendary at the turn of the 20th century?

Sullivan was known as the "Boston Strongboy." Although his lengthy boxing career did include fighting with gloves and fighting under Queensberry rules, he's best known for the more colorful, less legal parts of his career -- his bare-knuckles bouts and the tours where he'd challenge anyone in a crowd to fight him.

Why did early boxers lean back and hold their arms up high while fighting?

In the bare-knuckles era, fighters used their forearms to intercept blows, leading to the fighting stance that now looks comic to us. The introduction of 10- or 12-ounce gloves allowed boxers to lean forward more aggressively, trusting the gloves to block blows from the opponent.

What did men throw into a ring to show they were willing to fight?

Though it would be a good origin story for why boxers compete for belts, the correct answer is a hat. Nowadays, someone who wants to run for office or be considered for a promotion at work is "throwing their hat in the ring."

The rules that still largely dominate boxing are called the _____________ rules.

The rules weren't written by the Marquess of Queensberry, but published under his "patronage." They were created in 1867 to legitimize the then-free-for-all sport.

A boxer is not supposed to hit where?

The lower body is not a target in boxing. Both the expressions "hitting below the belt" and "low blow" come from boxing, and mean unfair or ungentlemanly behavior.

What does a corner man throw into the ring to stop a fight?

Before a towel, a sponge used to be used -- both were handy at ringside for cleaning fighters up between rounds. The towel seems to have been adopted out of convenience, not chosen for any particular symbolism.

Which of these is NOT a weight class in boxing?

There are several funny-sounding weight classes in the various governing bodies of boxing -- including, and we're not making this up --"atomweight." But "gnatweight" isn't one of them.

In the WBA and WBC, which weight class comes just before heavyweight?

The cruiserweight class is relatively new, in use since 1980. Evander Holyfield fought as both a cruiserweight and a heavyweight.

What is the upper limit of the "heavyweight" weight division?

In most of the sport's governing bodies, heavyweight does not have an upper weight limit. It's for any fighter over 200 lbs, the weight limit for the class below.

If there is no upper weight limit for heavyweights, what is the main reason they participate in a weigh-in?

The weigh-in is where a fighter is photographed by the media, stares down his opponent, and trash-talks about how he's going to hit the other guy so hard half his houseplants will die. (We wish we coined that phrase, but it was the late great crime novelist, James Crumley).

Which fighter was the subject of the documentary "Unforgivable Blackness"?

Ken Burns made "Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson" about Johnson, the son of former slaves who became the first African-American heavyweight champion of the world.

Who fought German boxer Max Schmeling in the WWII years?

Joe Louis was African-American and Schmeling was seen (unfairly) as the Nazi Party's fighter. For this reason, their two fights were sensationalized. However, Schmeling had no love for Hitler, and he and Louis were even friends in their retired years.

Which two fighters met in the "Rumble in the Jungle" in 1974?

Foreman and Ali met in Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Ali won the match, and never gave Foreman a rematch -- which is, in its way, a compliment.

What was Muhammad Ali's name at birth?

Ali won the gold medal in boxing, in 1960, under the name Cassius Clay. He changed it when he converted to Islam later in life.

What year was women's boxing first an Olympic sport?

In 2012, British boxer Nicola Adams won gold in London, and repeated the feat in Rio in 2016. She has since turned professional.

A championship won by defeating the existing champion is called a _____________.

Not all fighters can win a "lineal championship," which means taking the belt away from the last fighter to hold it. If a champion retires, or otherwise cannot fight again, a new championship bout must be fought between two contenders.

A boxer who is in trouble is on the _____.

The image is of a boxer who has been backed up onto the ropes by the blows of an opponent. The exception would be Muhammad Ali, or someone using his techniques. He liked to lean back on the ropes while in a defensive position.

Which of these expressions did NOT come from boxing?

"Pound-for-pound" refers to fighters needing to be in the same weight class to be fairly compared to each other. "Down for the count" refers to the ten-count a referee gives a boxer that has been knocked down, and a "glass jaw" means you don't take a punch very well. But "according to Hoyle" refers to the rules of card games, not of boxing.

Which of these is a venerated boxing magazine?

The Ring goes back to 1922. It used to boast that it was "safe for a man to take home ... it is clean." which tells you something about the moral state of the boxing world at that time.

Which of these fighters is nicknamed "the Golden Boy"?

De La Hoya's nickname reflects, in part, that he comes from a family of boxers -- but was clearly surpassing his elders at an early age. He may also be the only fighter to be embroiled in a controversy over cross-dressing, when photographs supposedly showing him dressed as a woman appeared online. (They appeared to be done with photo-editing software).

If you're absorbing the energy of blows, you are "_________ with the punches."

A boxer could do worse than to have a good understanding of physics. While crowds might appreciate a fighter who stands firm, leading with his chin, it's wiser to let your body absorb the energy of a blow, "rolling" with it.

Which of these novelists took pride in his boxing skills?

Though his writing was obviously excellent, part of the Hemingway mystique came from the way he lived the things he wrote about -- like hunting, fishing and boxing.

Which of these fighters is now an ordained minister?

Foreman, who unlike many pro fighters projects amiability, is both a minister and an inventor. He created the George Foreman Grill and sold the naming rights to it for $138 million.

Which of these fighters is also a professional basketball player?

Many fighters experiment with acting, rapping or inspirational speaking after their boxing careers. You've got to hand it to Pacquaio -- his leap to basketball, in his native Philippines -- was an original move.

What former boxer knocked out Ronda Rousey in an MMA fight in Melbourne?

Holly Holm stunned the world by beating the undefeated Rousey in 2015. Despite her boxing background, Holm won the fight via a high kick.

Which of these fighters is portrayed in the film "Raging Bull"?

Robert DeNiro played LaMotta. He trained with the boxer himself, who obviously was agreeable to his life story being told on screen.

Which of these boxing movies won Best Picture at the Oscars?

"Raging Bull" star Robert DeNiro won Best Actor. However, the Best Picture award went to "Ordinary People."

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