When the modern Games started in 1896, the Athens organising committee omitted boxing, deciding it was too dangerous. The sport reappeared in 1904 in St Louis thanks to its popularity in the United States, but was absent again at the 1912 Stockholm Games because Swedish law banned it. Only in 1920 did boxing make a permanent return to the Olympic Games.
Since the 1952 Helsinki Games, there has been no contest for third place. Instead both losing semi-finalists are awarded bronze medals. More recently, from the 1984 Los Angeles Games, the wearing of head guards was made compulsory.
Boxing at the Olympic Games is organised into weight divisions. This is so men face opponents of similar size, making ability the key factor in any contest. There are eleven weight divisions from light flyweight (under 48kg) through middleweight (64-69kg) up to super heavyweight (91kg and over)
Boxers qualify for the Olympic Games through regional qualifying tournaments in Europe, Asia, the Americas, Africa and Oceania. The number of boxers accepted from any region depends upon the strength of boxing in the region and the weight division. The boxers are paired off at random for the Olympic Games, without regard to ranking, and compete in a single-elimination tournament.
At the end of 2007 the Association Internationale de Boxe Amateur removed the word Amateur from its name to become the Association International de Boxe. The initials AIBA still remain using the combination of the French and English acronyms – AIB and IBA.