Muhammad Ali (L) (Wikipedia)

American Boxing and Its Biggest Superstars

Boxing was brought to the United States from England in the late 1700s, and it quickly gained popularity in the 1800s, especially in major cities like Boston, New York, and New Orleans. In the 20th century, the United States of America emerged as the sport’s epicentre. As sports gained in popularity, so did their financial incentives in the form of bigger purses and more commercial success. This has made sportsbooks seek the latest information to bet on boxing.

How big is boxing in America?

Even though traditional boxing fans have traditionally looked down on exhibitions and celebrity boxing matches, there appears to be an increasing upside to these events. According to Forbes, “boxing’s popularity is surging in the United States,” as evidenced by a recent Harris Poll that surveyed more than 2,000 adults in 2021 and found that 33% of respondents are fans of the sport. The poll found that boxing was the fourth most popular sport, after football, baseball, and basketball. It’s light years ahead of mixed martial arts. Lightweight Ryan Garcia, undisputed super middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez, and heavyweight champion Tyson Fury are just a few of the boxing stars who have become internet celebrities. At least a million people follow each of these boxers on social media.

When was boxing legalized in America?

After being outlawed for much of its history and forcing fights and fighters to take place in secret to avoid arrest, boxing eventually gained supporters in the “muscular Christianity” movement of the late 19th century. Theodore Roosevelt was also a vocal supporter. While president, he boxed until a punch to the left eye detached the retina and made him legally blind.


Early on, boxing was outlawed across the United States. However, after New York legalized the sport in 1896, other states soon followed suit. The American Boxing Association (ABA) is the sport’s governing body. The ABA hosts fight cards and hands out championship belts. Many of boxing’s most famous figures, from Muhammad Ali to Mike Tyson, have come from America, and this trend continues today.

Top American boxers

  • Joe Frazier

From 1970 to 1973, he was the undisputed heavyweight champion. He also won an Olympic gold medal as an amateur in 1964. Frazier’s punching power, stamina, and relentless pressure fighting style made him a legend in the boxing world. In the late 1960s, Frazier rose to prominence as a formidable contender. He won the heavyweight championship in 1970 after knocking out Jerry Quarry, Oscar Bonavena, Buster Mathis, Eddie Machin, Doug Jones, George Chuvalo, and Jimmy Ellis. In 1971, he defeated Muhammad Ali in the Fight of the Century.

  • Muhammad Ali

He was known by his ring name, “The Greatest,” and is considered by many to be one of the best boxers of all time, as well as one of the most significant and celebrated sports figures of the 20th century. At the age of 18, he competed in the light heavyweight division of the 1960 Summer Olympics and won the gold medal. Later that same year, he turned professional. Ali was the best heavyweight boxer of the 20th century, and he is still the only person to win the lineal championship in that weight class a record three times. His combined record of winning the world heavyweight title by defeating 21 boxers and winning 14 unified title bouts stood for 35 years.

  • Evander Holyfield

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, he was the undisputed champion at cruiserweight, and he is still the only boxer in the history of the sport to win the undisputed championship in two different weight classes. He is currently ranked ninth on BoxRec’s list of the greatest boxers of all time based on their performance in terms of their weight class. Additionally, BoxingScene ranked him as the all-time best cruiserweight fighter ever.