The answer to this question fundamentally depends on how good you are at boxing and what you want from your career. Boxing is a vicious combat sport and the risks are just as high as the rewards. If you happen to be a highly talented boxer with an extreme work ethic, there is a chance with the right guidance and management, you can make it to the top of the sport.
However, its important to remember that the vast majority of professional boxers don’t reach the pinnacle of the sport. In fact, most professionals make a very average salary if they are half-decent. work.chron.com suggests that the average boxer brings in around $35,584 per year. However, Pro boxers have to pay their own travel, training, and management fees from these earnings. So when you take everything into consideration, the money generated by most professional boxers is quite limited.
That being said, if boxing is your passion its difficult to make a case as to why you shouldn’t pursue it. Those who are both talented and motivated can go incredibly far. For example, Floyd Mayweather Jr, throughout his career its estimated he earned over a Billion Dollars.
Why Boxing Is A Difficult Career
The reason why traditional boxing is a difficult career path is that you have to be incredibly good and popular to make decent money. If you’re not in the elite one or two percent, you’ll often get overlooked unless you have an enormous fanbase. Mediocre fighters often have to fight several times a year just to make enough money. However, elite fighters and PPV stars will often take home millions of dollars from a single fight.
However, in recent times, YouTubers and celebrities have been able to bypass this system. Since they have prior fame, they are able to transfer their audience to boxing. Since there is so much animosity involved in these fights, they become a spectacle. They are no longer watched by boxing fans but rather by the general public who have a large appetite for drama.
Simply put for the average fighter, the pay isn’t nearly proportionate to the amount of work that they have to put in. From a purely financial perspective, this isn’t ideal. To conclude, if you’re not an elite boxer or popular then the sport isn’t very lucrative. This is fine providing that you’re planning on progressing up in financial and competitive ranks in boxing. However, if you’re going to stay at a lower level, then the money from boxing is relatively poor.
Lastly, boxing is a grueling sport and boxers don’t have particularly long careers. This means that you’ll have to take significant physical punishment throughout your career which will span only 25 years at best.
Why Boxing Is A Rewarding Career
Despite the average earnings for boxers being relatively low, there are a few compelling reasons for talented young fighters to take up a career in boxing.
Firstly, if you’re able to make it to the top of boxing, there are massive amounts of money to be made. These boxers typically become household names and whenever they fight everyone tunes in to watch. It essentially becomes an event. A spectacle that everyone wants to watch. These fighters also can benefit from other business ventures outside of the boxing ring, allowing them to make even more money in a sustainable way. Listed below are the top 10 highest paid boxers of all time:
|Fighter||Estimated career Earnings|
|Floyd Mayweather Jr||$1.1 billion|
|Mike Tyson||$430 million|
|George Foreman||$300 million|
|Oscar De La Hoya||$200 million|
|Manny Pacquiao||$190 million|
|Lennox Lewis||$140 million|
|Sugar Ray Leonard||$120 million|
|Vitali Klitschko||$65 million|
|Muhammed Ali||$50 million|
|Roy Jones Jr||$45 million|
Despite the astonishing earning potential, money isn’t the only reason that people choose to box. For a lot of fighters, boxing is their passion. It’s something they have been practicing since they were children. It’s a sport that they have dedicated their entire lives to. For someone who wants to box because they love the sport, its difficult to come up will a compelling argument as to why they shouldn’t.
It’s also a very unique career which makes it incredibly rewarding. There are only a small fraction of fighters who are able to obtain world championships and every fighter is different. Achievements and accolades are collected throughout life and forgotten. However, the fans won’t forget the moments that fighters create. This is the reason why fighters like Mike Tyson are so well remembered.
How To Make A Career In Boxing
If we’ve learned anything about the recent YouTube and Social Media Boxing phenomenon, its that you don’t even have to be remotely good at boxing to sell PPV, providing that you are popular. From a purely financial standpoint, popularity is the most important element of having a successful career in boxing. We go into much more detail about this in our article: How to Promote Yourself As A Fighter.
If you are able to effectively promote yourself through social media, you’ll be able to gain a fanbase. With more people watching your fights, you’re more likely to get paid more and progress in your career. Another way to obtain a fanbase is through being controversial and outspoken. Fighters like Floyd Mayweather Jr, Conor McGregor, and Mike Tyson became PPV stars because of their persona’s outside of the boxing ring.
In regards to actually pursuing a career in boxing, its probably advisable to pursue boxing while also ensuring that you have a back-up career incase things go to plan. Should you find yourself excelling in boxing, then you can drop all your other plans and focus on it full time.
Alternative Martial Arts Careers
The closest equivalent to boxing right now is Mixed Martial Arts and it has become incredibly popular for its fast pace and brutality. If you have a background in martial arts like Muay Thai, BJJ, Kickboxing, or Wrestling, the MMA might be a better fit for you. Furthermore, recent studies suggest that MMA is actually less harmful to the brain than boxing.
This is because during a boxing fight, the referee starts a countdown from 10 when a fighter gets knocked down so they have the opportunity to get back to their feet. This results in the fighters absorbing more punches when they are already in a dazed state. In MMA however, the fight goes to the ground if someone gets knocked down which often initiates wrestling which prevents the fighters from taking more punches.
In summary boxing for most people won’t be a good career path. You have to be extremely talented, hardworking, and prepared to absorb a lot of physical punishment over the next 20 odd years. On top of that, most boxers don’t get paid extraordinarily well.
However, do check all the right boxes and have a passion for boxing, then it can result in an incredibly memorable and rewarding career. Elite fighters get all the recognition in the world on top of their enormous paychecks. As we mentioned earlier, there are significant risks when boxing. But for some people those risks will be negligible providing that can box.