Boxing, as a sport, is one of the oldest in the world, with competitions dating back as far as 3,000 BC in ancient Sumeria. It’s one of the original combat sports. Add to this the fact that boxing is a spectator sport, meant to be enjoyed with massive crowds cheering from the rafters, and you have yourself one of the most popular sports in existence.
It is a sport enjoyed all around the world. Everyone watches it, millions practise it. No matter where you are in the world, whether you’re in a boxing gym in Singapore or a sports bar in the USA, you’re bound to find fans discussing and debating the sweet science. It’s a sport about pride and honour. It also fosters healthy competition in the ring, oftentimes between nations.
While each country in the world is proud of its boxing heritage, there are those that rise above others. There are countries that take boxing very seriously, and invest a lot of time and money into making sure they have the best fighters on the planet.
It may be difficult to pinpoint where exactly boxing is most popular, but we get a good idea from the quality and quantity of world champions a country produces. These countries have incredible fighting traditions that have produced some amazing legends of the ring.
Today, Evolve Daily shares the five best boxing countries of the world.
1) United States of America
First on this list is the United States of America, where boxing really took off as perhaps the most glamorous of all competitive professional sports. The US practically birthed modern-day boxing and turned it into what it is today. Hands down, the US has produced the greatest boxers the world has ever known.
With hundreds of world champions, as well as showing dominance in Olympic boxing, the US is at the very top of the sport, no question.
Venues like Madison Square Garden in New York, and the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas have become iconic locations for big-time fights. Most of boxing’s biggest bouts take place within the United States, and American fans go absolutely crazy for it.
Throughout the United States’ rich boxing history, a great number of world champions have risen, including Sugar Ray Robinson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Rocky Marciano, Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, Roy Jones Jr, Andrew Ward, Oscar Dela Hoya, Bernard Hopkins, Shane Mosley, and of course Floyd Mayweather Jr, among others.
Coming in at a close second is the boxing-crazed country of Mexico, which has an undeniably rich history in the art of pugilism. Many Mexican fighters used boxing as a passageway out of extreme poverty, fighting through dire circumstances to make something of themselves in the ring. But because these fighters have had such tough upbringings, that has molded them into some of the baddest fighters on the planet.
You’ll be hard-pressed to identify a country more crazy about boxing than Mexico. In Mexico, boxing isn’t just a sport, it’s a religion.
The classic Mexican boxing style is distinct. It’s fearless, come-forward, and draws upon that unmistakable Mexican machismo. This Mexican style has produced many warriors of the ring, including Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera, Juan Manuel Marquez, Julio Cesar Chavez, Ricardo Lopez, even Canelo Alvarez, and more.
3) The Philippines
Similar to Mexico, the Philippines is crazy about boxing, and many of the sport’s greatest Filipino fighters have used boxing as an escape from their financial circumstances. Boxing in the country is recognized as a major sport, right next to its beloved basketball.
There’s a boxing gym in nearly every neighborhood in the Philippines, in every gym in the major cities. Over in the provinces, upcoming hopefuls learn how to fight with makeshift equipment while competing in underground local village competitions. The Philippines loves boxing, and there’s no doubt about that.
The Philippines holds the record for most boxers in the World Boxing Hall of Fame and International Boxing Hall of Fame among Asian nations. As such, there’s an incredible boxing lineage throughout its history in the island nation.
World champions include legends Gabriel “Flash” Elorde, Ceferino Garcia, and Pancho Villa, modern-day warriors Brian Viloria and Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire. For nearly two decades, eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao put the Philippines on the boxing map, inspiring generations of amazing fighters to come.
4) United Kingdom
Another boxing-crazed nation is the United Kingdom (Great Britain). It has a very long and rich boxing history and an amazing boxing culture. You can pretty much credit today’s version of boxing to the UK. The Marquess of Queensberry Rules — otherwise known as the rules that modern boxing follows today — was drafted in London in 1865 and published in 1867.
While British boxing historically lacked the finesse of American boxing, there is no doubt that the UK has produced some of the toughest, most iconic fighters and fights in the sport. British fighters will never back down from a good scrap, and they’ve proven formidable throughout the years.
World champions to come out of the United Kingdom include former featherweight world champion Prince Naseem Hamed, heavyweight great Lennox Lewis, former super middleweight world champion Joe Calzaghe, former junior welterweight king Ricky Hatton, and current heavyweight world champion Anthony Joshua.
Last but certainly not least, is the great boxing nation of Cuba. Through the last few decades of boxing, Cuba has produced some of the most talented and skilled boxers the world has ever seen. Despite their athletes being held back by a tricky political environment, Cuban boxers have found immense success on the world stage in both the amateur and professional levels.
For years, Cuba has showcased its incredible boxing talent in the Olympic games, where Cuban fighters are accustomed to winning multiple gold medals. Two great examples are Teofilo Stevenson and Felix Savon, who each have three gold medals. Cuba is only second to the United States when it comes to medals earned in the sport.
Unfortunately, the Cuban communist government does not allow professional boxing, so many fighters have had to defect to the United States, escaping the comfort of home by sea in order to chase their dreams.
In addition to Stevenson and Savon, great Cuban world champions include Jose Napoles, Kid Chocolate, Kid Gavilan, Yuriorkis Gamboa, and former WBA, WBO, and IBO Super Bantamweight World Champion Guillermo Rigondeaux.