Why I Love Boxing

Lou Savarese's boxing gym in Houston, Texas, where I train. February 26, 2014.

Lou Savarese's boxing gym in Houston, Texas, where I train. February 26, 2014.

A friend asked me what I loved about boxing. The sport had never appealed to him. Or, rather, he’d never thought about it much.


Boxing is one of the oldest sports. Like wrestling, people have boxed for millennia. (Ancient Sumerian carvings dating from the third millennium BCE show boxers and spectators.)

Boxing’s history and elemental nature (more on that below) captures imaginations. People chronicle boxing in movies, documentaries, and books. The sport has become ingrained in our language through metaphors that many people may not even realize came from boxing:

  • “against the ropes”

  • “saved by the bell”

  • “in your corner”

  • “below the belt”

  • “lightweight”

  • “heavyweight”

  • “down for the count”

  • “go the distance”

  • “knockout” and “KOed”

  • “pull punches”

  • “southpaw”

  • “sucker punch”

  • “throw in the towel”

In many ways, boxing is the sport of all sports.


The boxer is boxing.

From the physical perspective, nothing exists in a boxing ring beyond your training and physical conditioning. You have no tools—no racquets or sticks or implements. You can’t blame results on weather or field conditions. All you have is your ability. And you'd better bring it all.

You are the sport.

And the tools at your disposal? Only your fists. Boxers win matches through the number and quality of punches they land to the head and upper body. They cannot hang onto or grab the other boxer. They cannot use any other body part. They must maintain the right distance to reach their opponents. They need to maintain their balance—and lightness on their feet. Boxing is not a brawl.


As with many sports, boxing is as mental as it is physical.

While boxing, you need to calculate your next move and your opponent’s next move while moving quickly and in close quarters—and with your gloves up and while someone is trying to punch you. Boxing requires composure, strategy, and mental distance in a moment of high stress, when every instinct, fueled by adrenaline, wants to rage—or flee.

You try thinking strategically in that situation.

What’s your sport and why do you love it?