Was Boxing Ever Illegal?

10 September 2022

Boxing was illegal from its inception in the mid-1800s to 1938. However, by 1989 the boxing ban had been lifted, and boxing was legal throughout the United States. Since then, there has been a steady revival of interest in this sport. With this resurgence has come a surge of interest in boxing as an entertainment event and learning about it as an art form. Here is the reason why boxing was illegal.

1. It was violent

Boxing was illegal for being a violent sport. The idea of one person hitting another on the face for money for enjoyment or entertainment was wrong in the eyes of people and governments alike.

2. It was thought to be morally questionable

In the minds of many, boxing did not promote good values and virtue, especially among the youth. It was considered immoral in both form and content, with its use of physical force to hurt and insult other people’s bodies. However, more than anything else, it was not considered ‘sporting,’ but rather a brutal display of violence by two individuals who were ‘macho.

3. It was considered to teach the wrong values

Boxing is a sport that explicitly rewards and praises physical aggression. Since it is an instinct for humans to survive, boxing was looked upon as a deplorable sport. Many people were also of the opinion that since boxers are paid to hurt other people, they would also be violent outside the ring.

This led to boxing being banned all over the world at one point or another, including in America, where it became an illegal sport in 1887 after pressure from clergymen and women who called it “brutal, savage, personally degrading.

4. It was thought to be barbaric

This was one of the dominant reasons for the boxing ban in America. Most states had already banned it on humanitarian grounds, and in 1863, the New York State Assembly passed a resolution to discourage it. The reason for this was self-evident. Boxing on the face with gloves was considered brutal and savage, especially as fighters would often slap each other savagely till one or both parties fell unconscious.

5. Corruption in the sport

Since professional boxing was illegal, boxers started promoting their fights to earn money. This gave rise to corruption and organized crime in the sport. This led to the executions of fighters. In 1892, a police officer was killed in New York by Jack Dempsey, who was then arrested for murder but acquitted because of the illegality of boxing.

6. Lack of medical requirements for fighters

The sport was illegal because it did not criminalize the use of drugs to improve a boxer’s performance against his opponent. That is why many boxers were found legally insane when caught taking drugs or suffering from withdrawals due to their drug use habits. Boxing was also seen as crude and lowbrow since it was much more prone to use cheap alcohol to help boxers stay alert and tough during fights.


The ban on boxing was lifted in 1989, and since then, it has expanded worldwide. This is because of its eye-catching nature as an entertainment sport and because this rich history of competition, training, and battles have been passed down through the generations. This rich history has become a great source of inspiration for modern boxers, who have taken this remarkable art form to new heights.