In Great Britain, Teaching Boxing In School Isn’t Far-Fetched

Just a few days ago, Joe Calzaghe, the Welsh boxer and BBC “Sportsman of the Year,” proposed that schools teach boxing.

And nobody laughed it off.

In fact, the Sports Minister shares Calzaghe’s opinion. My question is: Should boxing be taught in schools?

Calzaghe said it should be part of the core curriculum, per Wales Online:

“Too many kids of 14 or 15 years old are getting drunk because they
have nothing to do – boxing would take away unwanted aggression and give them something to aim for. Amateur boxing training should be mandatory in schools because it would really benefit children. Too many inflict damage on themselves by over-eating. Amateur boxing is one of the safest sports around. Boxing gets a bad press too often. It’s a fantastic sport. I am not an aggressive person. I am a disciplined, chilled and relaxed guy.”

Said Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe, per the London Daily Telegraph:

Sutcliffe cites the example of a pilot scheme in Sheffield where a 14-year-old girl who had been uncooperative in class, who faced detention time and again, had changed her behaviour after taking boxing exercise. That has been mirrored by many other pupils in the pilot schemes.

Sutcliffe insists that several pilot schemes bringing boxing training in schools in Yorkshire have proved “very successful.”

“We visited a primary school head-teacher in Sheffield who was originally unsure about it, and her staff were amazed she chose boxing, but it had been successful. Individual behaviour patterns changed, allowing people to be more outgoing and confident.” The children had merely been non-contact sparring.

The boxing fan in me is all for this. A great many undisciplined youth have benefited from boxing training. It would improve the quality of the sport professionally, as well, because the number of people who accumulated some skills early in life and took an interest in boxing would translate into better boxers overall.

But I’m also thinking of all the misfits who already dread gym class, who would find themselves pummeled in the hallways AND officially as part of classwork. And their pummelings would be all the worse for the fact that their tormentors would be better schooled in the art of pummeling, because I’m assuming not all of the people who learn boxing will use it for the cause of good, a la “Karate Kid.”

I think I like the pilot program idea that Sutcliffe mentioned more than than the “core curriculum” idea Calzaghe did.

Anyone else with any thoughts on this?


“Boxing Class in Joe Edward’s School In Berlin.” I trust I didn’t just post something Nazi-related, Flickr, because the date listed is “between 1910 and 1915.”

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board ( He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.