Is boxing sinful?


We have strong law about animal fighting, but when it comes boxing, we legalize actual violence in the ring. It sends a strong, negative message about our very aggressive society. And then people complain about the high crime rate and wonder why there are so many senseless murders in America. It’s hypocritical!

If you do not think boxing is sinful, what about Pit Bulls fighting?

I know people will try to defend boxing because it’s a part of our culture, so try and explain why it’s ok for two humans to try and do violence to each other, but not for dogs?


This is debatable, although I generally find boxing distasteful.

Boxing is a sport. It has specific rules of engagement. The aim is to win the fight, not to kill the other person. There are skills involved.

Dogs don’t get a say, which makes it enormously different. Animals fight each other in the wild over mates, food, and territory; it can be in their nature to fight. But I wouldn’t put them in a ring with each other and make them do it because it would be cruel. I don’t know that dogs can learn to differentiate fighting for human entertainment vs. fighting as a natural response to some stressor.

I think the consent factor alone is huge in terms of difference.


A while back there were some creepy producers who would pay homeless people to fight each other and he would video tape it and sell copies. Was he committing a sin? After all, the homeless fighters agreed to fight. Personally, I thought the producer was the lowest person alive and I found it very disturbing. From a moral perspective, can anybody defend this type of thing? After all, even the professionals do it for the money!


There is an enormous difference in culpability for people who are desperate for money and people who are not. I am surprised that you do not see it. :confused:

As I said, I personally find boxing distasteful. Maybe even imprudent. But distaste and imprudence do not make something immoral.


I do see that it’s wrong to pay homeless people to fight because they are desperate for money, but I think the same would hold true for professionals who do it out of greed and fame. If it’s ok to entice professionals to do violence to one another, why not say it’s ok to entice two homeless people to fight? What you seem to be saying is that there must be consent and one must’t be desperate for money. But what is it about being “desperate” for money that makes it immoral?


If one asks about the morality of boxing in today’s various forms one would look to how such is evaluated by orthodox Moral Theologians etc. One could find likely various judgments.

Here is a summary by one such:

“Moralists generally have doubted the morality of professional boxing, of the bull-fighting popular in Hispanic culture, of speed racing, and of various kinds of stunting in which there is serious risk of death or grave bodily injury.”

~ Fr. Benedict Ashley OP

From the work “Living the Truth in Love, a Biblical introduction to Moral Theology” 1996 pg 306

(Fr. Benedict Ashley was professor of Theology at the Aquinas Institute of Theology, highly respected author of several text and countless articles on moral theology. A consultant for the Committee on Doctrine of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and a senior fellow of the Pope John Center of Medical Ethics. He was honored with the Pro Ecclesia medal from Bl. Pope John Paul II)

(Note Bene the term “professional” there. The criticisms others too have in this thread seem to be aimed at that level or kind of boxing with all its multiple head shots etc I imagine moral theologians can discuss any difference between “professional boxing” and other kinds of boxing -I do not have personal knowledge really of either…but I note this for there are likely various distinctions that can be made theologically)


I agree with all you say here, except I find the sport of boxing exciting. Bloody, linked to brain disorders and potentially fatal, but exciting nonetheless. What can I do? It’s not the customary liberal mentality toward violence in sports but my father bought me a pair of boxing gloves when I was a child and we went to the fights and watched them on television, so I can somewhat appreciate the gun culture in our society as well.


What about football or karate/martial arts tournaments? What about those masters who break bricks with their bare hands? And NASCAR racing?

Those are potentially even more dangerous.

Paying homeless people to fight sounds beneath dignity on the surface, especially if they don’t have the proper equipment, officiating ect.

See, professional boxing may be described as an art, and it is a sport. A sport is something that should not offend God.


Boxing has existed for centuries, and the Church has not seen fit to declare it sinful. That’s good enough for me.

The Catholic Encyclopedia states that the deprivation of the mental faculties due to head blows is not, because transitory, sufficiently grave to make boxing sinful.

Still, many nations have banned it, and I hope one day it will be banned internationally. Sport should not involve deliberately hurting another human being.



No one forces a boxer into the ring against his will. The same most certainly cannot be said of a pit bull that is forced to fight.

A boxer can quit a fight at any point. The same most certainly cannot be said of a pit bull that is forced to fight.

A boxer has a mind that enables him to realize the potential risks of boxing. The same most certainly cannot be said of a pit bull that is forced to fight.

If a boxer performs poorly in a fight, no one comes to the boxer after the fight and abuses him because of his poor performance. The same most certainly cannot be said of a pit bull forced to fight.


St. Nicholas did boxing, according to a legend. :blackeye:


The purpose of boxing is to cause brain injury to one’s opponent. It was previously the belief that the brain injuries from boxing were only temporary. Modern medical research shows that this is not the case. Boxing is very problematic morally.


Saying that engaging in activities that can easily hurt the person in significant ways is a sin is something that I believe to be true. In this sense, professional boxing is just as evil as enticing two homeless people to act violently towards each other.


That doesn’t seem to add up to me because deprivation of the mental faculties due to drinking alcohol is a sin.


Concur. And this was said decades ago, when the long-term effects of repeated head blows were not yet well understood.



Imprudent, yes. It is, quite frankly, a contest to see which fighter can inflict a traumatic brain injury which temporarily incapacitates his opponent before his own brain injury becomes that severe.

But sinful? Not necessarily.

This is not unlike questions on the morality of drinking alcohol or smoking. As with boxing, these are associated with centuries-old traditions which have somehow got a “grandfather clause” by which they are legal and moral, as long as nobody gets hurt too bad.


Boxing is not sinful. Rocky was Catholic and he boxed under an image of Jesus.


It’s like asking if a wagon maker is a sinful profession. No one boxes anymore.

Now ufc might be debatable. But if that is sinful then all sports might be sinful. We watch football basketball etc and they are physical games of strength where the point is to defeat the other physically.


I train in MMA and my goal is to step into the ring as an amateur fighter next year. There is no sin involved in boxing, MMA, or any other sort of empty hand fighting.

Any fighting style will develop physical fitness, flexibility, and the warrior spirit. Those are good things which should be encouraged.

MMA is safer than football, and the fights are between consenting opponents as opposed to a pair of animals that cannot consent.

Finally, it was a Catholic priest in Italy that popularized boxing in the Middle Ages according to one story.


Also CCC

Respect for health

2288 Life and physical health are precious gifts entrusted to us by God. We must take reasonable care of them, taking into account the needs of others and the common good.

Concern for the health of its citizens requires that society help in the attainment of living-conditions that allow them to grow and reach maturity: food and clothing, housing, health care, basic education, employment, and social assistance.

2289 If morality requires respect for the life of the body, it does not make it an absolute value. It rejects a neo-pagan notion that tends to promote the cult of the body, to sacrifice everything for its sake, to idolize physical perfection and success at sports. By its selective preference of the strong over the weak, such a conception can lead to the perversion of human relationships.

2290 The virtue of temperance disposes us to avoid every kind of excess: the abuse of food, alcohol, tobacco, or medicine. Those incur grave guilt who, by drunkenness or a love of speed, endanger their own and others’ safety on the road, at sea, or in the air.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit