Fists were most likely the first weapons humanity has ever used – after all, their fists were always at an arm’s length. Over the millennia, fist fighting has become finer, ultimately getting its share of rules – and boxing was invented. As many other sports, modern boxing also originated in England, grown out of a habit of bare-knuckle fist-fighting known as “prizefighting” in the late 17th century. The Marquess of Queensberry rules appeared in 1867, giving birth to a fairer and more regulated way to fight, ultimately giving birth to the sport we love and appreciate today.
The country of origin doesn’t usually give the best sportsmen to the world – this is true for soccer, rugby, and many other sports, including boxing. Countries like Ukraine, Argentina, and the Philippines have given the world great boxers – does the name Manny Pacquiao ring a bell? Boxing is not among the most popular sports in England, and neither is it in Canada, the country that gave us Lennox Lewis, one of Canada’s top sports stars ever. So, which ones are the top boxing countries in the world?
Cuba is well-known for its communist regime, its cigars, and white rum – but it’s a nation with an amazing number of great boxers, too. Having won 37 Olympic gold medals and 18 world championships, I think we can safely state that the island nation is among the biggest boxing nation in the world. One of its most notable athletes today is Guillermo Rigondeaux Ortiz aka El Chacal, with 10 Olympic golds, and multiple world championships at super bantamweight, including the WBA. Today, he is ranked the best super bantamweight and the sixth-best active boxer pound for pound.
This may sound surprising to many, but it’s a fact: Japan is a major – yet strongly underrated – boxing nation. Japan has recorded a record total 76 world champions. Perhaps one of the reasons why it is such an underrated boxing country is that its male champions rarely risk their titles outside the country. Still, Takashi Miura protected his super featherweight title in Cancun in 2013, and Kōki Kameda did the same with his bantamweight title in South Korea in the same year.
Perhaps the best-known Japanese boxer of all time is Masahiko Harada (Fighting Harada), former world boxing champion in the Flyweight and Bantamweight divisions. Out of his 62 fights, he won 55 – and 22 by KO. In 1996, he was elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York.
3. United Kingdom
While it isn’t the greatest boxing nation in the world, the UK – the birthplace of boxing – still occupies an important place in our list. After all, it has given the world 63 world champions, including former super middleweight world champion Carl Froch. One of the most notable boxers in Britain is Dillian Whyte, current holder of the WBC International Heavyweight title. Out of his 22 fights, he won 21 (16 by KO). Other notable boxers in the UK are Tyson Fury, rumored to make a comeback this year, unified world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, and many others.
Known for most for its luchadores, Cinco de Mayo, and tequila, Mexico is a veritable boxing powerhouse. With over 180 world champions and eight current title holders, it is among the strongest boxing nations today. Among its most notable boxers, we find Gilberto Ramírez, WBO Super middleweight champion, super featherweight Miguel Berchelt, and many others.
With 431 world champions in its history and 11 current WBA champions, the United States of America is the most powerful boxing nation in the world today. It is the country that has given the world legends like Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Robinson, and Floyd Mayweather, arguably the best boxer in the world today.