With a long history as a combat sport, boxing has now evolved into both a multi-billion dollar industry and a dynamic, challenging workout for both beginners and professionals - and it’s easy to see why! Boxing is an incredible way to build muscular and cardiovascular strength, burn fat, decrease stress, and build confidence. In addition, if you are new to this popular sport, you will find that boxing can also give you a sense of achievement and empowerment as you master each technique that comes your way.
Boxing can be seen dating back to the ancient Olympic Games, but the sport you know and love today is very different. Back then, boxing was kind of a free-for-all where boxers, or gladiators, were thrown into a ring without any rules except for one: kill the other opponent.
Since then, boxing has thankfully evolved over the years with rules and techniques put in place to ensure the safety of the fighters.
Boxing is such a unique sport and has really come a long way since the good ol’ gladiator days. Not only have rules been developed, but fighting styles too.
In fact, there are four styles of boxing that are most commonly used today.
What are they, you might ask? Keep reading to find out!
The swarmer - sometimes called the crowder or the in-fighter - is every pure technical boxer’s nightmare. They are relentless and aggressive. A swarmer is a fighter who endeavors to beat his or her opponent by being both very defensive and by putting consistent pressure on the opponent. They just keep punching over and over again, giving their opponent very little room to get a punch in edgewise.
The swarmer is one of the more difficult styles to achieve, as it requires nearly perfect form and the stamina to apply pressure to the other boxer continuously. In fact, most fighters endeavor to make a swarmer status, but it takes many years of training to perfect the technique needed to really overwhelm an opponent with a flurry of punches.
Due to the time required to master this skill level and to build the necessary stamina, most fighters who claim the swarmer style have comparatively short careers. Why? Because it’s a difficult style to maintain, as it requires constant training, and it’s easy to fall out of, which can leave a boxer open to punishing hits, which can further shorten their career.
Most fighters who practice this boxing style do it by closing in on an opponent and then sending out strong, fast hooks and uppercuts. As they are throwing these powerful punches, they also have to be able to avoid whatever punches their opponent is sending out too. Since it usually takes a moment or two to get into the correct position, these boxers either have to be able to withstand many punches before they can start throwing their own, or have to be swift on their feet to first evade, and then move inside their opponent to begin their attack.
Some of the best swarmers of all time include:
As the name suggests, a fighter that practices the slugger approach relies on power punches to knock his or her opponent out. That's why they are effective against a swarmer! Although a swarmer is inside throwing non-stop punches, the slugger only has to land one powerful punch, and the fight is over. They rely on the sheer brutality of their punches to win the bout, rather than timing or the number of jabs thrown.
Sluggers usually have strong chins and aren’t afraid to take a few hits. In fact, they have to because they are generally bigger and move slower. They tend to throw fewer punches, but the ones they land are devastating, as a single punch could knock an opponent out cold.
These are the fights people tend to love most because they usually end up with someone lying on the mat. If you happen to get a good swarmer who can go the distance with a slugger, be prepared for an intense, nail-biting fight with lots of action and lots of hardcore hitting.
Some of the best sluggers of all time include:
The out-boxer, also known as the pure boxer, out-fighter, and boxer, is all about staying on the outside, using distance and defense to score points. These fighters use their smarts in the ring to maintain a safe distance between themselves and their opponents and pick the appropriate time to attack.
This boxing style is always entertaining to watch because it requires the fighter to come in for a quick succession of hits - or even just a single hit - and then back off again. Although others will consider it rather boring because the fighters also spend quite a bit of time waiting for the right moment to strike, the out-boxer is the best style to watch for those that love strategy.
Many boxers who use this boxing style will wait for their opponent to make the first move or move in on them before stepping out to strike. They generally have a long reach, because they like to maintain distance from the other fighter, preferring to land long-range punches. Unlike fighters who practice the other styles of boxing, out-boxers rarely get knocked down. These boxers win by being apt decision-makers and by landing clean, legal punches.
Some of the best out-boxers of all time include:
The last style of boxing is a hybrid and the most dynamic. These boxers possess the technical skill and grace of an out-boxer and the devastating power of a slugger. It essentially combines the best of all worlds into a single style. Boxer-punchers are considered well-rounded fighters who can compete with just about any other boxing style in the ring. Since their focus is on speed and power, they can usually tire out a swarmer, dominate an out-boxer, and out-punch a slugger.
These boxers are extremely versatile. They don’t necessarily have to rely just on speed, power, or technique in order to win a match. They tend to have many skills to draw on, which makes them good aggressors and good counter-punchers.
Unlike fighters that practice the swarmer style who can sometimes get too close and leave themselves open for hits, a boxer-puncher takes control of the ring, watches his opponent closely, does what he needs to do, and uses the opponent’s mistakes to his advantage. In fact, they capitalize on the mistakes made and take advantage of openings. When their opponent is hurt, boxer-punchers know exactly how to push the pedal to the metal and finish the job for the win. Boxer-punchers typically have great strong chins, are highly mobile, and are excellent at defense.
Some of the best boxer-punchers of all time include:
Picking up the right boxing style isn’t just a matter of choice and what inspires you. It depends largely on your natural flexes and skills. Usually, the boxer-puncher approach fascinates newbies, and they tend to desire this all-encompassing style straight from the get go. But it usually doesn’t work out too well.
It’s best to start with a more defensive boxing style and then progress towards adopting the boxer-puncher approach since it’s really difficult to master and needs a level of skill. You need to coordinate your intellectual and aggressive tactics at the same level, which can take quite a bit of time to develop the skill set. In fact, the boxer-puncher style is acquired only by the pros in the field with years of experience.
To determine which fighting style is right for you, opt for sparring. Play both defensively and aggressively to learn what works best for you and fight with different sparring partners with different skills and strengths. This will reveal your true inner potential and will help you in deciding which boxing approach to adopt.
If you are new to the exciting world of boxing, be patient when trying to figure out what fighting style is best for you. Although the boxer-punching style is arguably the best style of them all, it’s important to understand that it takes a lot of time, dedication, and hard work to learn this approach. Maybe start with a more defensive style like the out-boxer that is a little easier to learn. Once you have this style down, move onto another.
If you are interested in eventually learning all four styles, be sure to go to a gym like LegendsBoxing that teaches them all. Some gyms only specialize in a specific style, so it’s important to do your research before choosing a boxing club!