The History of Betting on Boxing

Boxing betting has a rich history that dates back centuries, evolving from simple wagers to a multi-billion-dollar industry. Let’s explore the highlights of this fascinating journey through the ages.


Boxing as a sport has been around since ancient times, with evidence of boxing matches found in civilizations such as ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. In its early stages, boxing was a brutal and often deadly contest, lacking the regulations and rules we see today. However, even in those early times, people found ways to place bets on the outcome of these matches.

As organized boxing began to emerge in the 17th and 18th centuries, so did the practice of betting on fights. Boxing matches attracted large crowds, and spectators started to place wagers on their favorite fighters. These early bets were typically informal, with individuals betting amongst themselves or with bookmakers who operated on the fringes of society.

New Rules for a New Generation

One significant development in the history of boxing betting came with the introduction of the Marquess of Queensberry Rules in the mid-19th century. These rules standardized the sport and made it safer, paving the way for a more structured and regulated betting environment. With clear rules and regulations, boxing gained wider acceptance, leading to increased interest from both spectators and bettors.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, boxing became increasingly popular, and betting on matches became more formalized. Bookmakers began to establish themselves as legitimate businesses, offering odds and accepting wagers on various boxing events. This period saw the rise of notable bookmakers like John Graham Chambers, who played a pivotal role in shaping the modern landscape of boxing betting.

The emergence of boxing legends also contributed to the growth of betting on the sport. Fighters such as Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, and Muhammad Ali captured the public’s imagination, creating a frenzy of interest and betting activity around their matches. These iconic fighters drew massive crowds to arenas, and bookmakers eagerly capitalized on the opportunity to take bets on their fights.

The introduction of broadcast media, particularly radio and later television, revolutionized the boxing industry and consequently had a profound impact on betting. The ability to follow fights from afar brought boxing into homes across the world, and with it, the popularity of betting soared. Fans could now listen to live radio broadcasts or watch televised matches, making it easier than ever to engage in betting on boxing.

Over time, various betting formats and markets evolved to cater to the growing demand. Apart from the straightforward win-lose bets, bookmakers introduced options like round betting, method of victory, and over/under betting, allowing bettors to diversify their wagers and engage with different aspects of a match.

Online Betting

The rise of online betting in the late 20th and early 21st centuries further transformed the boxing betting landscape. The internet allowed bookmakers to reach a global audience and provided bettors with easy access to a vast array of markets and odds. Online platforms also introduced live betting, enabling fans to place wagers during a fight, reacting to the ebb and flow of the action in real-time.

If you would like to try betting online, then always select a trustworthy online sportsbook offering boxing betting options. Preferably one licensed and regulated in your jurisdiction. You can bet on fights with Lottoland, for instance.

Big Fights, Big Bets

As the popularity of boxing continued to grow, major fights began attracting enormous sums of money, both from ticket sales and betting revenue. High-profile matches like the “Fight of the Century” between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier in 1971 generated significant betting activity and captured the public’s attention. These mega-fights became cultural events, and betting on them reached unprecedented levels.

One of the biggest betting odds in boxing history occurred in the heavyweight division on February 11, 1990, when Mike Tyson faced off against James “Buster” Douglas in Tokyo, Japan. Tyson was the reigning heavyweight champion and was considered unbeatable at the time. The odds were heavily in favor of Tyson, with some sportsbooks offering odds as high as 42-1 in favor of Tyson winning the fight.

However, Douglas shocked the world by knocking out Tyson in the 10th round, becoming the new heavyweight champion. This upset victory remains one of the most significant upsets in boxing history. The odds against Douglas winning were so high that those who bet on him received substantial payouts.

Today, boxing and betting maintain a close relationship and that doesn’t look like changing any time soon. If you do want to bet on an upcoming fight, then always remember to bet responsibly and within your budget.

Boxing Betting