If you’re a boxing enthusiast, you must have wondered why professional boxers don’t wear shirts in the ring. For one, since most sports make money through advertising, a shirt, just like a short, offers a space for sponsors to come in and promote their brand. For example, amateur boxers wear vests and even shirts. So why isn’t this the case with professional boxers?

Professional boxers don’t wear shirts when boxing because a shirt slows the pace down and prevents swift movement. Also, a shirt causes excess body heat and sweating and presents an opportunity for clinching, obstruction, which negatively impacting a boxer’s performance.

Also, according to the rules of professional boxing set by the Association of Professional Boxing Commissions, APBC, male boxers must be stripped to the waist. Having a shirt on while boxing makes it harder to move and keeps heat from escaping, which is bad.

Here’s a deeper look at why professional boxers don’t wear shirts when boxing:

Has This Been the Case from the Beginning?

The reason why professional boxers aren’t allowed to wear shirts today is so different from the past. Boxing was corrupt in the past, and the idea of a boxer stepping into the ring with a shirt or vest was unfathomable.

Professional boxers were prevented from wearing shirts in the olden days because it was expected that one might hide a weapon under their vests to turn things around in the ring. So, boxers had to get shirtless in the ring for both parties to believe they were in a fair fight.

As the sport developed, it became standard for boxers to fight shirtless.

Today, boxing is shirtless for many reasons, and let’s break them down.

Boxing With a Shirt Slows the Pace Down

When there’s something to grab, like a shirt, boxers will find it easy to hold or clinch every time they get the opportunity. There is already too much holding in boxing, and having shirts on will slow the pace and make the sport unbearable.

Wearing a Shirt While Boxing Would Hamper Easy Movement

Good movement is just as important as any other skill a boxer requires. It’s easy to move around without a shirt, so professional boxers don’t wear them.

Physically strenuous activities like boxing, MMA, or wrestling require high speed and moves, and wearing too much clothing, especially a shirt or a vest on top, will hamper the movements.

Boxers want to be as free as possible to evade strikes and throw quick punches quickly. Having a top on defeats this purpose because the boxer won’t use his hands as freely as shirtless.

Boxing While Wearing A Shirt Causes Excessive Body Heat and Sweating

Professional fights are long and can last for 12 rounds if there’s no knockout, disqualification, an opponent’s corner throwing in the towel, etc.

Boxers work up a lot of sweat in a fight, and a shirt or a tank top would gather so much sweat and get in the way. With a lot going on in a boxing ring, the last thing professional boxers need is a shirt clinging to their torso because of sweat.

Imagine a Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder bout with both fighters wearing shirts. The shirt, tank top, or whatever they have on their upper bodies would get wrecked. Something would go loose, and many breaks in the fight would make it boring to watch.

Also, being a fast-paced and explosive activity, having a shirt on while boxing would cause the body to heat up faster than average. The reason is that the heat from the body would not escape as quickly as it should, and this will cause a lot of sweating and a lot of heat buildup. Therefore, the boxers will tire faster and even pass out because of the heat.

Shirts Would Present an Opportunity for Obstruction While Boxing

Having t-shirts on, tank tops, or any other covering on the upper body makes it impossible for the fans, the empire, and the referee to see nothing inside the shirts.

There must be regulation on the type of t-shirt material, and the referee must check whether there’s anything inside the shirts.

This is not what boxing is all about, and something as simple as having a shirt on can be a game-changing affair.

A Shirt Can Further Complicate Boxing Scoring

A loose t-shirt or tank top would make it impossible for the judges to see if a body punch connects. Scoring in boxing is already pretty questionable, so there’s no reason to add additional x-factors.

Shirts Would Make Pro Boxing Less Professional

Shirts, t-shirts, or tank tops would make professional boxers less professional. For example, have you ever watched a professional boxer walk into the ring with a shirt on? Yes, the walk-in can intrigue, but the fans go crazy when the boxer steps into the ring and takes off the shirt.

Whether you’re sitting ringside or comfortably at home on your couch, that’s what you pay to see. It’s good to show the shape of the boxers’ bodies to the paying fans. Also, boxers make weight to show their upper bodies, which allows the viewers to admire the condition of their bodies and physique.

Wearing a Shirt While Boxing is not Traditional

Boxing, through the ages, has been known for being the barest and near-naked of sports. The way boxers present themselves is symbolic of what the sport stands for. Boxers understand what they bring to the ring, their skills, bravery, boots, gloves, and trunks. That’s it.

Changing this look goes against history, tradition, and what the sport has represented for decades.

Also, fighting is a primal affair and only works when boxers show as much bare skin as possible. For example, we are not advocating for street fights, but street fighters don’t fight with shirts.

Would Any Boxer Want to Wear a Shirt?

I don’t think any professional boxer would want to fight in a shirt. As we have already highlighted, there are many reasons no pro boxer would like to have a shirt on. For instance, a shirt would make it hard for them to move, which would be a disadvantage, especially if their opponent didn’t wear one.

In addition to making it hard to move, a shirt can make a fighter overheat and sweat, which hurts their performance.

Today, there’s a lot in boxing, and a single loss will lose the fighter the title and lucrative deals that can be detrimental to their careers. So, no professional boxer would want to wear a shirt while boxing because they won’t be on top of their game.

But Don’t Professional Female Fighters Have Tops On?

Yes, professional female boxers must-have tops for obvious reasons, but even their tops are small enough to cover the necessary parts without affecting their performance.

Also, Why Are Amateur Boxers Required to Wear Shirts?

Shirts are a requirement not just in amateur boxing but also in Olympic boxing.

For example, in amateur boxing, a shirt or singlet makes it easy to identify the fighter’s corner and distinguish them because they wear headgear, show club affiliations, etc. Also, amateur boxing lasts only about three rounds and can not be compared to professional boxing, which can last for 12 rounds.

Why are Olympic boxers allowed to wear shirts?

Olympic boxers are allowed to wear shirts because they’re considered amateur boxers. The competition is played in an amateur format of 3 rounds, each for 3 minutes. This format would seem like a walk in the park for professionals.

Final Words

Boxing is a sport that should be played shirtless. From what this article has pointed out, a shirt would not only be dangerous to a boxer but could impede a good fight.


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