Boxing has been around since the dawn of man. People used to step into an arena and duke it out with their bare hands, but today, boxers step into a square ring with padded gloves and still beat the heck out of each other. So, how large is a boxing ring exactly?
The size range of a regulation boxing ring is between 18 and 24 feet on all sides. The ring consists of a platform that stands 3 to 4 feet high, a stretched canvas, and multiple ropes that keep the boxers from falling out.
If you’re wondering why it’s called a boxing ring in the first place, why there’s a size range, and how long a boxing bout lasts, you’ve come to the right place. I’ll answer all of these questions and more down below.
Why Is It Called a Ring?
Rings are round, right? So, why is a boxing ring, which is clearly a square, even called a ring?
Well, it stems all the way back from ancient times when boxers would duke it out in a circle drawn on the ground. Basically, fights traditionally took place in a ring, and the name stuck.
Boxing—the sport where people throw physical punches at one another—dates back thousands of years ago. They didn’t have the same equipment boxers wear today, and the fights weren’t usually overseen by appointed judges. In fact, those who stepped into the ring had disputes with one another regarding all sorts of problems. It wasn’t until the 1740s when people came up with official rules for boxing, though the fighters would still whale on each other with bare hands.
Fast-forward to the mid-19th century when the Pugilistic Society created the first official square boxing ring. The first regulation boxing ring was a 24-foot square and had two ropes on all sides.
Boxing Ring Dimensions
The rules for boxing rings have changed slightly. Today, a regulation boxing ring is a square that measures between 16 and 24 feet on all sides. In addition, the number of ropes has gone up from 2 to 4 on each side. The precise measurements depend on what governing body is overseeing the match, as well as what local boxing laws are enacted.
Parts of a Boxing Ring
Boxing rings are a lot less complicated compared to MMA octagons and other sports’ playing fields. Let’s take a look at what few components make up a boxing ring.
- Platform—This is the raised base on which the fighters climb up before a boxing match begins. The Platform is covered in a stretched-out sheet of Canvas. The Platform is raised 3 to 4 feet above the ground.
- Canvas—This is the material that is stretched over all four corners of the Platform. The Canvas provides a less slippery surface for the boxers, so they don’t trip over themselves constantly.
- Posts—The metallic columns are found on all four corners of the Ring. They are connected to the Corner Pads with turnbuckles.
- Corner Pads—Each corner of the Ring has one 5-foot-tall Corner Pad. The Corner Pads are there to give the fighters somewhere to lean on or stand against during countdowns and breaks in between rounds. Each of the Pads is connected to adjacent Pads with Ropes. There are red and blue pads for each fighter, as well as white pads that signify neutral corners (where the fighter stands during timeouts or countdowns).
- Ropes—The Ropes enclose the four sides of the Ring. Ropes are stretchy, so you can lean against or bounce off them when they make contact. There are 4 Ropes spaced 12 inches apart, starting from 18 inches above the Platform.
How Long Do Boxing Matches Last?
Before 1982, boxing matches would consist of 15 3-minute rounds. However, following the tragic Ray Mancini and Duk Koo Kim fight, would force organizers to reduce the number of rounds per match. Since then, the maximum number of rounds has been limited to 12 3-minute rounds.
Between rounds, fighters would be given a 1-minute rest break to consult with their trainers. Since the clock continues to run out while counting a downed fighter, the longest a boxing match can last is 58 minutes.
On average, boxing matches tend to end between the 5th and 6th rounds. So, the average boxing match usually lasts for just under 22 minutes.
Boxing Ring vs. MMA Octagon
Fans of combat sports will know how different boxing rings are from MMA cages or octagons. For the uninitiated, I’ll briefly explain the differences below.
- Shape—Boxing rings are square in shape, while MMA cages are octagonal. The UFC adopted the octagonal since its launch in 1993, primarily citing safety reasons.
- Enclosure—Boxing rings are enclosed in 4 ropes on all four sides, whereas MMA octagons are enclosed in a metal cage. In MMA fights, it’s virtually impossible to fall out of the ring unless a player is thrown out, which is highly illegal. In boxing matches, despite the ropes’ best efforts, boxers can still fall out. When this happens, the fighter is given 20 seconds to return to the canvas to continue.
- Size—Boxing rings measure 16 to 24 feet on all sides, depending on where the ring is set up. MMA octagons are usually 30 feet in diameter.
- Height—The height of the corner pads of a boxing ring is 5 feet tall. The fences that enclose an MMA cage stand 6 feet tall.
- Entrance—Boxers enter the ring by slipping through the ropers. MMA fighters enter the cage through entry and exit gates constructed on opposite ends of each other.
Is Boxing Dangerous?
Some of the most common injuries a boxer will experience include concussions, cuts, and sprains. Even after stepping out of the ring for good, retired boxers can experience all sorts of health ailments, with the most common of them being deteriorated and permanent damage to the cartilage.