“The important thing is to participate”.
This well-known quote (and one that is mistakenly attributed to Pierre de Coubertin) is a saying that makes sense when you are wanting to practice a combat sport and especially once you are older than a certain age. No longer having the same physical condition, or the freshness of youth, you might find your physical abilities suddenly more limited.
Yet, there are more news articles than ever these days about boxers breaking through the age barriers. Combatants such as French boxer Jean-Marc Mormeck’s making a comeback, or the world heavyweight champion Ukrainian Wladimir Klitschko winning the top of his category at more than 38 years old.
Strictly speaking, there is no age limit for starting boxing. But from an administrative point of view, it may be more complex to continue competing at a later age (authorization and the medical exam may need to be more thorough).
Put on your boxing gloves, your hand wraps and your boxing shoes, it’s time to jab and uppercut! (Source: Pixabay)
English Boxing can be separated into two fighting categories:
England Boxing distinguishes several categories: recreational boxing or educational boxing, amateur boxing and professional boxing.
Amateur boxing is the type of boxing that we see at the Olympic Games.
Many Olympic champions (like Tony Yoka recently), later move on to become professional boxers.
Amateur boxing can be practised from 13 to 39 years old. However, to continue until age 39, you must have obtained your first license before age 34. It will be more challenging (with a few exceptions) to obtain a first amateur boxing license at the age of 37 or 38 years. In this case, the practitioners wear a boxing helmet and the format of the fight is done in 3 rounds of three minutes each.
Recreational or educational boxing is aimed at a much wider audience and can be practised from 7 to 77 years old.
The techniques of boxing remain the same with the notable exception that the power of the hits is not the goal in order to beat one’s opponent.
French boxing sometimes also called “French savate boxing” or simply “savate” is a foot-fist type of boxing (meaning that one hits by punching and kicking).
Like in English boxing, we find the two variants: educational or recreational (where we touch the opponent) and combat (where we hit the opponent).
From a purely technical point of view, there is no age limitation for recreational boxing, however, there is a limit in combat boxing.
You can compete in combat boxing until the age of 40. The maximum age has been put in place by the International Boxing Association (AIBA) to protect boxers. Once you’ve reached the age of 34 and until 40 years old you can participate in the masters’ category. The only differences are that you have to have a medical every year and your coach has to match you with opponents between 34 and 40 years old as well.
After 40 years old, it will still be possible to switch to leisure boxing and continue to put your gloves to use in training and by competing recreationally.
It is, therefore, altogether possible to register in a boxing club at more than 50 years old and participate in boxing.
In Muay Thai the UKMF (United Kingdom Muay Thai Federation) governs the sport in the UK. Concerning competition regulations, the UKMF sets an age limit of 35 years for amateurs. The Junior division is from 15-18yrs and the Senior division is from 17-35 years.
On the other hand, it remains possible to register at boxing gyms or clubs after 35 yrs old and practice recreational martial arts like muay thai.
A Thai boxing champion must hit his opponent with his feet. (Source: Sandee Boxing)
In any case, if you are an older participant, we strongly advise you to contact a club or gym that interests you to have a more personalized response on your case.
Keep in mind, however, that Thai boxing requires extremely good physical condition, which can sometimes be complicated once you pass a certain age.
Technically, there is no barrier to practice boxing and its variants. In competition, the medical monitoring imposed will be more drastic but that doesn’t prevent you from fulfilling your passion and interest in boxing through leisure boxing.
Hand-to-hand boxing classes are possible at any age. (Source: Pixabay)
As we get older, whether you’ve been a former athlete or not, the body and our physical capacities diminish (suppleness, explosiveness, strength, speed of execution…).
On the other hand, a very good level of endurance can be maintained at age 40. It is not uncommon to see athletes approaching their forties and still win the most prestigious marathons.
For former boxers who wish to continue on past forty, the first advice would be to not try to resume the behaviours they had when they boxed at twenty or thirty years old. The body will probably not respond in the same way and doing so could increase the risk of injury.
Another good point would be that, while in youth it’s a little more possible to neglect one’s body (with diet, nutrition, recovery time, warm up and stretching), it’s more complicated and not recommended to do this once you’re in your 40’s.
In a word, to reach a healthy physical fitness level, it is necessary to listen to your body (which getting older usually makes more obligatory). Basically, you have to be able to rest when necessary and not push it too much when you feel the beginning of an injury.
For those who feel unable to physically handle the more aggressive hits in boxing, it is possible to turn to other martial arts such as Aikido, Karate, Thai Chi or Kendo.
33 years is the duration of the fabulous career of Roberto Duran for a final record of 103 wins and only 16 defeats. Roberto Duran has boxed at a high level from the age of 16 up until he was 50 years old!
Floyd Mayweather is also an example of longevity, motivation, and an undeniable proof of the possible success after 40 years, as evidenced by his last fight (against Irishman Conor Mcgregor). He is undefeated in 50 professional matches.
Hat’s off also belongs to Bernard Hopkins, an American boxer who won a world championship at the age of 49. He still remains today the oldest world champion in the history of professional boxing.
Bernard Hopkins has kept up his boxing skills and taken them all the way to becoming the world’s oldest boxing champion to date. (Source: BoxingNews24)
We also think of Mathieu Kassovitz who played an amateur boxing match at the age of fifty. Showing us all that anything is possible!
A key thing to keeping your fitness up is diet.
Boxing is a sport that requires a good physical condition. You have to have energy and the ability to recover quickly after physical effort. The boxing gym allows everyone to let off steam, whether they be a great Olympic champion, a beginner, or just having fun.
What is Savate?
Also called French boxing, which is practised either recreationally or as a combat sport, and is also popular with women. You can learn it through a boxing class, with a personal trainer or from a professional boxer.
What is the age limit for boxing?
Technically, there is no real age limit for joining a club. It is when you want to compete that age can, unfortunately, put on the brakes. Nevertheless, we advise each participant who wishes to start boxing (or a boxing variant) to discuss your goals with a boxing trainer. They will be able to point you in the best direction and share with you their professional and helpful advice.
Find out how often you should train as a boxer.