Can Pro Boxers Compete In The Olympics?

Can Pro Boxers Compete in the Olympics?

Though they have previously not been permitted to compete in the games, professional boxers have been allowed to participate in the Olympics since 2016. However, most choose not to participate because of differing rules, risk of injury, and reduced financial incentive, among other reasons.

Pro Boxers In The Olympics

Professional boxers can now technically compete in the Olympics! Since 2016, professionals have been allowed to participate in Olympic boxing events. However, most high-level boxers will choose not to participate in the Olympics for a number of reasons. Olympic boxing is still viewed as amateur-level compared to pro boxing, and therefore has many different rules compared to professional boxing in the United States. 

The Olympics has numerous differing rules, the number of rounds, and how bouts are scored. The Olympics also previously required competitors to wear headgear, though this rule was removed in 2016, along with the ban on professional boxers. These differences make Olympic boxing much different from U.S. professional boxing and put professional boxers in an environment they aren’t comfortable competing in. For all of these reasons, there has actually only ever been one pro boxer to win an Olympic gold medal. That distinction belongs to Albert Batyrgaziev, who represented Russia in the 2020 Olympics.

Reasons Not To Compete

Risk of Injury in Olympic Boxing

Another big factor in most professional boxers’ choice not to participate in Olympic boxing is the risk of potential injury. A boxer’s physical status is extremely valuable to both themselves and their teams. Considering each fight requires peak performance to win, boxers must always be healthy and in top shape. Many professional boxers fear the risk of suffering a career-ending injury in a lower-level event such as Olympic boxing, especially considering the future revenue they would be losing professionally. The best professional boxers can make millions of dollars for a single fight, so participating in a competition such as the Olympics, which would generate them nowhere near that amount of revenue, seems pointless to many professionals.


How many professional boxers competed at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics?

Out of 186 competitors in the men’s boxing event at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, only 36 (19%) have any professional boxing experience. On the women’s side, seven out of the 100 competitors (7%) have any professional boxing experience. Among the 43 professional boxers that competed at the Tokyo Olympics, only 23 of them have participated in more than three professional fights. None of the competitors in the men’s boxing event have recorded more than nine professional fights.

When were professional boxers first allowed to compete in the Olympics?

2016 was the first year that professional boxers were allowed to compete in Olympic competition. Prior to this, the Olympic committee had barred professionals from competing due to fears of domination in a format that served as a kickstarter for many amateurs. However, most professionals that compete in the Olympics today are still very early in their professional careers, and their inclusion in the Olympics has only served to help these young boxers grow. While the decision faced some backlash at the time, allowing professional boxers to fight in the Olympics has certainly increased competition and added entertainment value to the sport overall.

Who are the most famous pro boxers to fight in the Olympics?

There is a remarkable collection of pro boxers who have fought in the Olympics during the early stages of their careers prior to going pro. For aspiring pro boxers, the Olympics can be a great way to gain notoriety within the sport and get a shot at going pro. Some of the biggest names in boxing have represented their country in the Olympics, including Floyd Mayweather Jr., Oscar de la Hoya, George Foreman, and Evander Holyfield. Even the great Muhammad Ali took the gold back in the 1960 Olympics, representing the United States in Rome.