Boxing Gym Etiquette

Know the etiquette of boxing gyms and avoid getting punched in the face by an angry trainer.

The “unwritten rules in boxing” are a set of unwritten rules that govern the etiquette of boxing gyms. These rules help to create a safe and respectful environment for all members.

Boxer having practice session with trainer in gym.

Note from the editor: Martin Schatz has written a guest article for us.

Last time, we spoke about things to look for while choosing a training location. We talked through some of the benefits and drawbacks of the typical gym setting. In today’s Part II, we’ll look at the training atmosphere and the etiquette and common courtesy that can be found in a standard boxing gym.

Etiquette at the Gym & Training

Boxer doing rope-jumps in front of trainer.

There’s no denying that boxing gyms are scary. They are almost often found in the most undesirable areas of town. They are hot, packed, and quite noisy on the inside. However, some of the nicest individuals you’ll ever meet are sweating and exercising in these dingy little cages. The guys who know what they’re doing, the ones who have been there and done that, don’t require posturing or bullying, as Sam Sheridan said in his audio interview with the Art of Manliness a while ago. I’m sure there are exceptions to this rule, but I haven’t come across any yet.

There are things you can do to make your transition into the family easier, whether you are a rank beginner or moving from another martial art.

Talk less and work more – This is a solid rule of thumb. There isn’t a single coach or serious athlete in the world who won’t admire a man, particularly a newcomer, for his willingness to work hard without creating a fuss.

Don’t bombard the person with questions – This one goes against the grain a little. The truth is that all of boxing’s basics are very unnatural actions. When you first start out, the boxing stance–eyes and hands up, head down, elbows tucked, lead shoulder aiming towards your opponent–can seem quite uncomfortable. Don’t waste your coach’s (or your own) time by going off on a tangent discussing the whys, or constantly checking in with him to see whether you’re “doing it properly.” When you’re doing it correctly, he’ll tell you. Repetition, like many other things, is the only way to become comfortable and calm in what is really an unpleasant and stiff position. Simply remember the basics and keep showing up. That recalls me…

Boxing is not bodybuilding, so show up. To “relax the muscles that you exercised yesterday,” you don’t need to wait 24 hours. Boxing training is monotonous, rigorous, and taxing on particular body parts. Every day, you will almost certainly do the same thing. Three days a week is insufficient if your objective is to compete and compete well. Take what you need from your opponent’s five-day-a-week training regimen, which includes roadwork.

Don’t make excuses – This one appears to be the most popular among boxers who have previously trained in other martial arts. “Yeah, in taekwondo (or whatever), we keep our hands down,” you may hear after a particularly painful sparring session in which a man gets countered nonstop with straight right punches after being careless about bringing his jab back. That is a fascinating and intriguing piece of knowledge, but in boxing, you will be knocked out cold for that type of behavior. Other, more apparent justifications include being exhausted, hurt, unwell, not getting enough sleep, and so on. Nobody loves to listen to this type of thing, so help yourself out and stay away from it.


Sparring Protocol

Two boxers having a bout in front of their friends in boxing ring.

Sparring is the most crucial aspect of your preparation. The frequency and intensity of sparring in a boxing gym may startle newcomers to the sport. You’ll nearly always be working alongside someone who has a lot more experience than you when you initially start. This is really a good thing, since he’ll let you throw punches and focus largely on defense while “keeping you honest” by tagging you with jabs and light strikes to remind you that the other person is also throwing punches.

Sparring gets more severe as you continue. Mismatches are often remedied by a handicap, such as a larger fighter taking a few punches off or a more experienced fighter letting his opponent set the tempo. A full-contact battle will resemble more equitable match-ups, with both men of comparable weight and experience. Of course, there are some noticeable distinctions, such as the bigger gloves. In addition, unlike in a real fight, if a guy is visibly shaken by a strong blow or barrage of punches, decorum typically dictates avoiding going in for the kill.

A few other things to consider:

  • At the start of the round and at the conclusion of the round, sparring partners touch gloves. If you don’t want to touch hands with your opponent, chuck a haymaker while he’s preoccupied. Even the most difficult and arduous sparring session is still sparring.
  • You’ll hear your coach shouting at you to perform various things. Don’t pause to listen. Continue sparring and attempt to put his recommendations into practice as you go.
  • Thank your partner and his coach for their efforts at the conclusion of the sparring session. Regardless matter how the rounds went, be nice. You’ll be giving and receiving a pounding at times, but you should always thank both guys for the effort and the chance.
  • Even if they had never met before, an almost instant bond develops between two athletes who have recently completed a strenuous sparring session together. It is traditional to talk about how the fight went, what each other did well, and to inquire about each fighter’s experience in the sport for a few minutes. If your coach wants you head straight to your bag work, this may not always be doable, but I will always attempt to have one final little talk with the man before leaving the gym. Even a simple “thank you again for your assistance today” as you walk out the door can help maintain foreign ties and guarantee that you have a sparring partner in the future.

Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of Amateur Boxing for Beginners: A How-To Guide 



The “1930s boxing rules” are the set of rules that were used in the early days of boxing. These rules have been updated to fit modern day boxing, but some people still stick to these old-school rules.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are boxing gyms intimidating?

A: Boxing gyms are intimidating to some if they have never stepped into one before. They may think that its going to be a really hard place where you cant get out of, and there is no reason for them coming in.

What are the 10 gym etiquette rules?

1. Always wipe your feet before you enter someone elses gym
2. If a machine is not in use, leave it alone – nobody likes to be interrupted while they are working out 3. Leave the mat cleaner than you found it and let others do the same!

What should a guy wear to a boxing gym?

A: A gym requires a specific type of clothing to keep anyone from injuring themselves during the activity. To give you an idea, it generally is advised that men wear shorts and tank tops instead of sweats.

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