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Quite a few Olympic boxers have gone on to become world champions-gold medalists Sugar Ray Leonard (1976), Leon Spinks (1976), Michael Spinks (1976), George Foreman (1968), Joe Frazier (1964), Muhammad Ali [Cassius Clay] (1960), and Floyd Patterson (1952)-just to name a few. Olympic boxers must be between the ages of 17 and 32; competitions are held in 12 weight divisions ranging from light flyweight (up to 48 kg, or about 106 lb) to super heavyweight (over 91 kg, or more than 200 lb).

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Olympic-style boxing is faster than the professional game, and the rules are vastly different as well.The scoring system in amateur boxing awards a point to the fighter who can connect with a punch and move away before his opponent can do the same. All legal blows are scored equally. Pushing an opponent or pinning him against the ropes with the shoulder or forearm are both allowed in professional boxing, but in Olympic boxing they are punished. Infractions may result in point deductions and, in extreme cases, disqualification. Punches that count have to be delivered by the white part of the glove covering the knuckles. To be scored, a blow must be clean, fair, and judged substantial.

Olympic boxing matches, or bouts, consist of five 2-minute rounds. Five judges sitting ringside score the bout using a computer with a program that electronically tabulates each boxer's scoring punches. A judge must press either a red or a blue button on his keyboard when the "red" or "blue" fighter throws what the judge considers to be a scoring punch. Three of five judges must press either the red or blue button within one second (starting when any one judge presses his button) for a point to register for a boxer.

Tie scores are rare, but they do occur; in such cases, the highest and lowest scores are dropped. In the unlikely event the score is still tied, each of the five judges votes for a winner by pressing the red or blue button on his keyboard. The boxer chosen by at least three of the five judges wins.

Winning by points is the most common way to win a match, but not the only way. A boxer can forfeit the match by "throwing in the towel" or can be prohibited from continuing if the referee considers him outclassed or not "giving 100 percent."

A match is stopped if one of the boxers is knocked down and receives an eight-count three times in one round or four times in a bout. A boxer is considered "down" if he touches the floor with anything other than his feet, or if he is even partially outside the ropes as a result of a punch. If a boxer remains "down" to a full count of ten, the bout ends by a knockout.

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Portions of the above text were excerpted from Share the Olympic Dream--Volume II.
© 2001 by Griffin Publishing Group/United States Olympic Committee.

For information on purchasing Griffin materials, please visit the Griffin Publishing Group Web site at http://www.griffinpublishing.com.


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