|National Golden Gloves: Rules, scoring, more
by The Grand Rapds Press
Sunday May 04, 2008, 12:05 AM
Monday through Thursday, boxers compete in bouts consisting of three two-minute
rounds. Three rings will run simultaneously, with about 30 bouts in each ring the first three
nights, when shows will last roughly six hours. Thursday is the shortest weeknight, with
44 quarterfinals divided among three rings. Friday and Saturday, competition is reduced
to one ring, and boxers compete for four two-minute rounds in the semifinals and
finals.First-round competition is split between Monday and Tuesday. Six weight divisions
will be contested Monday (light flyweight, flyweight, featherweight, light welterweight,
middleweight, heavyweight), and five Tuesday (bantamweight, lightweight, welterweight,
light heavyweight, super heavyweight). Boxers who continue to advance will compete
every day after the first round, through Saturday.Except in the two lightest weight
divisions, which get lukewarm participation in the U.S., a boxer generally must win five
bouts to win the national championship.
How it's scored
Five ringside judges will determine all decisions, with little subjectivity allowed. Each judge
holds a red clicker in one hand, and a blue clicker in the other. Boxers in the red corners
always will wear red gloves, and vice versa with those in the blue corners. Every time a
judge sees a boxer score a legal scoring blow, he or she will punch the corresponding
clicker. At the end of each round, judges record their scores for that round on their
scorecards and reset their clickers. When the bout ends, total points are tabulated, and
the boxer ahead on at least three of five scorecards is the winner. Any judge whose
scorecard is tied at the end of a bout must choose a winner and note the criteria for doing
so. Tie-breaking criteria, in order, are effective aggression, defense, and boxing style
(sometimes called ring generalship). Unlike professional boxing, knockdowns and
standing-eight counts are not reflected in amateur scoring. Only scoring blows count. A
devastating one-punch knockdown counts no more than a jab, assuming the fallen boxer
rises and continues. A scoring blow is defined as a punch in which the white tip of the
glove lands, with the force of body or shoulder, on the front or sides of the head or body,
excluding the arms.
The change to the clicker scoring system also altered the way penalties are assessed.
Under the old 20-point-must system, a referee's warning resulted in a point deduction.
Under the clicker system, two points -- the equivalent of two scoring punches -- are added
to the offended boxer's score after a referee's warning. However, a judge is not obligated
to follow the referee's advice, if he or she believes the warning was in error. A judge also
is empowered to enforce his or her own penalties, if he or she believes the referee failed
to enforce an infraction. The latter two scenarios rarely happen, and a judge must mark
the scorecard with explanations for any deviation from the referee's orders.
Referee stops contest
There are no knockouts in amateur boxing, at least as the official results go. The most
common result, other than a decision, is an RSC, for referee stops contest, which can
happen when one boxer is outclassed, injured, disqualified, or receives three
standing-eights in a single round or four in a bout.
An RSCH -- referee stops contest because of head blows -- is the official ruling when a
boxer can not continue because of head punches after a standing-eight count, or a
10-count while on the canvas, whichever is applicable.
The tank top and headgear worn by the boxers have been a mandate in amateur boxing
for three decades. Specifically, international rules call for a "vest covering the chest and
There are limits on allowable verbal communication during an amateur boxing match, and
a national tournament offers a unique opportunity to see how different regions offer their
own twists on what certainly seem to be two concrete rules. One, cornermen are
prohibited from providing advice during a round, so the old image of the trainer barking
instructions is forbidden. Two, referees are prohibited from talking to boxers during the
course of a round, save for three commands -- "stop," "break," or "box" -- and are
expected to convey all other mid-round communication through hand signals. Widespread
liberties are taken with those rules. At Michigan Golden Gloves last month, cornermen
screamed instructions with impunity. Fans of Michigan Golden Gloves may witness some
different enforcement on banned speech at the nationals.
Ringside physicians are empowered to have a bout stopped for medical reasons. The
referee must comply. In the case of an injury, a referee may determine alone whether a
boxer can continue, but once he or she confers with the physician, that advice must be