Why is a boxing ring so-called?

Why is a boxing ring so-called? Of course, the term ‘ring’ typically describes a solid object in the shape of, or a group of objects arranged in, a circle. However, according to Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA) regulations, a boxing ring must be 20 feet, or 6.10 metres, square inside the ropes. Indeed, a square boxing ring, albeit with different dimensions, was first specified in the ‘London Prize Ring Rules’, developed by the London-based Pugilistic Society in 1838.

In a boxing context, the term ‘ring’ is a throwback to the days of bare-knuckle fighting, which reached the peak of its popularity in the seventeenth century. In those early, pioneering days, contests were fought inside a circle, roughly drawn on the ground, and surrounded by spectators. Often, those spectators held a rope, which not only confined the fighters to a prescribed area, but prevented interference once the contest was underway.

Thus, the term ‘ring’ became part of boxing parlance and persisted even after the sporting arena became square, rather than circular. In fact, in some quarters, the boxing ring is still referred to as the ‘squared circle’.