Figures released today by Sport England show that boxing is more popular than ever, with a significant increase in the numbers of people taking part at least once a week.
The Active People Survey (APS) is a national survey which measures how many people are taking part in sport, who those people are, and how they are taking part - whether it's as part of a club, for competion, or in a fitness environment.
The most recent survey shows that boxing has enjoyed an increase of just under 30,000 people in the past six months.
This growth has been largely driven by the number of 16 and 25-year-olds boxing, which has risen to 79,100 - exceeding the target set by Sport England for this year of the current funding cycle.
In the 26+ age group, participation is up to 87,300, which shows a recovery following a drop in figures revealed by the previous set of APS results.
Female participation now stands at 35,000, a rise of 11,700 in the past six months, suggesting that more women and girls are choosing boxing as an alternative to those traditionally seen as women's sports. Male participation is up by 14,300 to 131,400.
England Boxing's Head of Development, Ron Tulley, said: "Women now make up nearly 21% of boxing participation, an amazing increase given the sport was only recently considered a male-only activity."
As one of the most inclusive and accessible sports, it was no surprise that more people from ethnic minorities are taking part in boxing, and boxing has also seen a rise in the number of participants from socially deprived areas.
The upward trend in boxing fitness classes continues, but 'traditional' boxing has also seen a rise, proving the strength of the sport at grassroots level.
Modern boxing was largely dominated by the American boxers, however, the UK has produced a number of world-class boxers as well. It is, after all, the birthplace of the modern sport of boxing. The lists of the UK’s top 10 greatest boxers tend to vary from one boxing critic to another but they all seem to agree that the following 10 boxers must be on the UK’s top 10 all-time greatest list.
Here is Superprof with a list of the top 10 greatest British boxers of all time.
1. Joe Calzaghe
The Welshman competed from 1993 to 2008. He is a two-weight world champion, having been able to defend the unified WBA (Super), WBC, IBF, WBO, Ring magazine and lineal super-middleweight titles, as well as the Ring light-heavyweight title. Calzaghe is the longest-reigning super-middleweight world champion in boxing history.
He retired with the longest continual time as world champion of any active fighter.
Between 2006 and 2008, Calzaghe was rated by The Ring as one of the world's top ten boxers, pound for pound, reaching a peak ranking of third in January 2009. He retired in February 2009 with an undefeated record, and as a reigning world champion.
Calzaghe was often referred to as the "Pride of Wales" or the "Italian Dragon", the latter being a play on the moniker "Italian Stallion" and a reference to his multiple heritages (the dragon being both a prominent Welsh emblem that appears on the Welsh flag and a figure in Sardinian myth).
In 2007, Calzaghe became BBC Sports Personality of the Year, by gaining 28.19% of the public vote. This made Calzaghe the first Welsh winner of this award since show jumper David Broome in 1960. He was awarded the Young Boxer of the Year Award in 1995. Calzaghe was inducted into the International Boxing International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2014.
He has definitely written a chapter in the great history of boxing.
2. Lennox Lewis
Lennox Claudius Lewis competed from 1989 to 2003. He is a three-time world heavyweight champion, a two-time lineal champion, and remains the last heavyweight to hold the undisputed title.
Holding dual British and Canadian citizenship, Lewis represented Canada as an amateur at the 1988 Summer Olympics, winning a gold medal in the super-heavyweight division after defeating future world champion Riddick Bowe in the final.
In his first three years as a professional, Lewis won several regional heavyweight championships, including the European, British, and Commonwealth titles.
Lewis won the lineal title by defeating Shannon Briggs in 1998. Two fights against Evander Holyfield in 1999 (the first of which ended in a controversial draw) saw Lewis become undisputed heavyweight champion.
In 2002, Lewis defeated Mike Tyson in one of the most highly anticipated fights in boxing history. In what would be his final fight, in 2003, Lewis defeated Vitali Klitschko in a bloody encounter. He retired from boxing in 2004.
He is regarded by many as one of the greatest heavyweight boxers of all time, and also one of the greatest British fighters of all time. He has the 4th longest combined title streak in modern boxing history at 15 title bouts. In 1999 he was named Fighter of the Year by the Boxing Writers Association of America, and BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
3. Ken Buchanan
Ken Buchanan is a British retired professional boxer and the former Undisputed World Lightweight Champion from Edinburgh.
Buchanan travelled to Puerto Rico, where he would meet Ismael Laguna, the world lightweight champion from Panama, on 26 September 1970. He beat Laguna by a 15-round decision to become world's Lightweight champion. At that time, the WBA and the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBC), were in the middle of a feud, and Buchanan was not allowed to fight in Scotland.
Buchanan had to resort to fighting overseas for a short period of time. He finished 1970 beating Donato Paduano by a 10-round decision in a non-title bout.
Buchanan defeated Rubén Navarro in Los Angeles on 12 February 1971, defended the WBA championship, and acquired the vacant WBC championship.
He then became the Undisputed World Lightweight Champion.
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4. Barry McGuigan
Finbar Patrick 'Barry' McGuigan is an Irish retired professional boxer and current boxing promoter. Born in Clones, County Monaghan, Ireland, McGuigan was nicknamed The Clones Cyclone and became the WBA and lineal featherweight world champion.
He was very popular with Irish and British audiences, representing neutrality and peace in a time when Northern Ireland, where he lived, was divided by The Troubles. In 2005 he was inducted into the international boxing hall of fame.
He founded, and is the current president of, the Professional Boxing Association (PBA).
5. Lloyd Honeyghan
Lloyd Honeyghan is a British former professional boxer who competed from 1980 to 1995.
He reigned as the undisputed welterweight champion from 1986 to 1987, and held the WBC, Ring magazine, and lineal welterweight titles twice between 1986 and 1989. At regional level he held the European, British, and Commonwealth welterweight titles between 1983 and 1985, as well as the Commonwealth light-middleweighttitle from 1993 to 1994.
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6. Ricky Hatton
Richard John Hatton is a British former professional boxer who competed from 1997 to 2012, and has since worked as a boxing promoter and trainer. During his boxing career he held multiple world championships at light-welterweight and one at welterweight.
Hatton is ranked by BoxRec as the best British light-welterweight of all time, the third best in Europe, and eleventh best worldwide. In 2005 he was named Fighter of the Year by The Ring magazine, the Boxing Writers Association of America, and ESPN.
Hatton reached the pinnacle of his career in 2005 when he defeated Kostya Tszyu for the IBF, Ring, and lineal light-welterweight titles. This was followed up later that year with a victory over Carlos Maussa to claim the WBA (Super) light-welterweight title, thereby becoming a unified world champion.
Hatton suffered a career first defeat against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in an attempt to win the WBC, Ring, and lineal welterweight titles.
Hatton has been lauded as one of the most beloved and popular British boxers of all time, with a raucous fanbase that travelled in their tens of thousands across the Atlantic to support him.
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7. John Conteh
John Anthony Conteh is a British former professional boxer who competed from 1971 to 1980.
He held multiple light-heavyweight championships, including the WBC title from 1974 to 1978; and the European, British, and Commonwealth titles between 1973 and 1974. Conteh was awarded an MBE in 2017 for services to boxing at the Queen's Birthday Honours.
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8. Chris Eubank
Christopher Livingstone Eubanks, known as Chris Eubank, is a British former professional boxer who competed from 1985 to 1998.
He held the WBO middleweight and super-middleweight titles, and is ranked by BoxRec as the third best British super-middleweight boxer of all time.
He reigned as world champion for over five years, was undefeated in his first ten years as a professional, and remained undefeated at middleweight. His world title contests against fellow Britons Nigel Benn and Michael Watson helped British boxing ride a peak of popularity in the 1990s, with Eubank's eccentric personality making him one of the most recognisable celebrities of the period.
Eubank is credited for his bravery in the ring, in which he was able to take considerable amounts of punishment from power punchers en route to his victories and defeats, and for this he is said to have a "granite" chin.
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9. Nigel Benn
Nigel Gregory Benn is a British former professional boxer who competed from 1987 to 1996.
He is a two-weight world champion, having held the WBO middleweight title in 1990, and the WBC super-middleweight title from 1992 to 1996. Additionally he held the Commonwealth middleweight title from 1988 to 1989.
Nicknamed "The Dark Destroyer" for his formidable punching power and aggressive fighting style, Benn is ranked by BoxRec as the fourth best British super-middleweight boxer of all time.
10. Naseem Hamed
Naseem Hamed, commonly known as "Prince" Naseem or "Naz", is a British former professional boxer who competed from 1992 to 2002.
He held multiple world championships at featherweight, including the WBO title from 1995 to 2000; the IBF title in 1997; and the WBC title from 1999 to 2000. He also reigned as lineal champion from 1998 to 2001; IBO champion from 2002 to 2003; and held the European bantamweight title from 1994 to 1995. Hamed is ranked as the third best British featherweight boxer of all time by BoxRec
In 2015 he was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
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