Boxing is often seen as a sport for the young. Boxers older than age 34 are not allowed to compete in the Olympics. Boxing is the only sport in which being struck in the head repeatedly is a normal part of competition, and many people feel that this is simply too dangerous after a certain age. However, some boxers love the sport so much that they don't want to let it go. Some people even take up the sport later in life.
Unlike Olympic boxing, professional boxing doesn't set an upper age limit. However, there is still a perception that boxers over age 50 should be retired. When pro boxer Thomas Hearns announced at age 50 that he was looking for another bout, even his own trainer would not support the move. Hearns had a professional record of 61 wins and 5 losses, with 48 wins by knockout, yet his trainer felt that he was too old to fight. This opinion is widespread in boxing, although some fights between older boxers still occur.
According to the rules of USA Boxing, fighters can compete at any age, but only against an opponent within ten years of their own age. A 50-year-old boxer would not be allowed to compete against a 20 or 30 year old, but could compete against an opponent as young as 40 or as old as 60. Fighters above the age of 35 compete in the "Master's Circuit." Master's boxers, as they are known, represent a high proportion of the clientele at some boxing gyms.
Boxers over the age of 50 must overcome the stereotype that they are too old to be effective boxers, or that they are only participating because of a mid-life crisis. Although there is a widespread perception that a boxer's skills will begin to degrade at about age 35, this may be something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. When a boxer reaches that age and everyone tells him his skills will start declining, there is a temptation to stop practicing at the same intensity level. The lack of practice then causes the decline in skills.
Boxing for Fitness
Boxing includes a lot of heart-healthy exercises such as skipping rope and working on a punching bag. It can help with weight loss and all-around fitness, and many gyms offer boxing workout programs that do not require you to get in the ring and fight. If your only goal is to stay in shape, most gyms welcome boxers at any age. It might be a good idea to improve your fitness level before taking up boxing. Do cardio exercises at least 150 to 300 minutes, plus at least two, 20 minutes sessions of strength training per week. Before you know it, you'll be ready to enjoy a regular boxing workout.