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How to Become an Amateur Boxer

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Becoming an amateur boxer requires outsize ambition, physical skill and a serious commitment to the sport. To be successful at boxing, even at an amateur level, you must be in tip-top shape and be willing to work long hours for little to no pay, especially if you're just beginning your career.

Job Description

Amateur boxers are career athletes who get paid to compete individually in hand-to-hand fighting matches. It's a physically rigorous job that requires years of intensive training and near-daily sessions in the gym to build stamina and strength and improve fitness and fighting skills.

Education Requirements

No formal education is required to become an amateur boxer; a bachelor's degree or other post-secondary degree is not a necessity. Rather, you should focus your energies on finding a boxing gym and choosing a reputable trainer who can help whip you into fighting shape. A state license may eventually be required to participate in select matches, but this is typically the only certification that's required.

When it comes to selecting the best gym, aspiring amateur boxers should find an actual boxing gym, not just a gym that has boxing classes. In fact, taking classes isn't the best way to get into amateur boxing; generalized instruction won't get you far if you're hoping to become a skilled fighter who makes a living from the sport.

Rather, you should receive personalized instruction from a qualified coach or trainer. Most decent boxing gyms have quite a few trainers and coaches who work as independent contractors, so joining an appropriate gym (one that exclusively coaches boxing) is crucial. A well-respected coach can help you rise up the ranks as fast as possible.

Note that amateur boxing in the United States is managed by USA Boxing, which is responsible for all aspects of the sport. For those who want to work out in a USA Boxing registered gym, the organization offers a Fitness Membership that includes many benefits, including secondary injury and accident insurance. Training in a USA Boxing registered gym isn't a requirement, but it's a good idea for those who are serious about their boxing goals.


Amateur boxers compete in boxing tournaments for money, though they spend most of their time training in gyms or with a coach. When a boxer is ready for a tournament, they may spend days or weeks on the road and can expect to work long hours during the evening and weekend. Boxers must be in peak physical condition, so when they're not on the road, daily gym sessions are typical.

Years of Experience and Salary

Though salary information for professional and amateur boxers is not available (and can vary widely), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for athletes and sports competitors is around $50,650 per year. This means that half earn more than this, while the other half earns less.

For amateur boxing specifically, salaries can vary, and most boxers get paid per fight as opposed to receiving a steady annual salary. Experienced boxers who build a reputation and fight in major competitions can expect to earn a much higher per-fight fee than those just starting their careers. Amateur boxers at the top can make millions, but this is rare and far from the norm.

Job Growth Trend

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of athletes and sports competitors is projected to grow by about 7 percent from 2016 to 2026, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. Since there is no available data for amateur boxing, look to the current data available for other athletes to determine job growth trends for boxers.

Most boxers do tend to retire early, as it's a physically taxing, intensive sport that can really wreak havoc on the body. When boxers are ready to retire, however, they can usually find related work in the field by becoming trainers, coaches or announcers.


Justine Harrington is a writer based in Austin, Texas. Her work has been published in Forbes, USA Today, Fodor's, American Way, Marriott Bonvoy Traveler, Texas Highways, Austin Monthly, and dozens of other print and online publications.

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