Boxing is associated with a few big names -- such as Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield or the legendary Muhammad Ali -- who had big paydays to match. Most professional boxers, however, earn much less than such extraordinary athletes. With so many levels of professionalism related to the sport, determining the average salary of a boxer is complicated, but several online resources offer reasonable estimates.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) classifies boxers as professional athletes in its 2010-11 Edition Occupational Outlook Handbook. According to BLS, the median annual salary for competitive athletes was about £26,312 in May of 2008. The middle 50 per cent earned between £14,144 and £60,911 per year, with an estimated average figure of about £51,649. Simply Hired website offers wage information specifically relevant to boxing careers that is comparable to BLS estimates of competitive athlete salaries of £26,312. At the time of publication, Simply Hired estimates that the average national salary for professional boxing athletes is about £25,350 per year.
Women athletes in the boxing profession are often times paid considerably less than male boxers. Neither BLS or Simply Hired publish salary statistic related to female boxers, but other online resources do offer limited information. According to Ann-Marie Saccurato, who won the female World Boxing Council lightweight championship in 2006, female pro-boxers earn as little as £260 per match, and only £3,250 for world title fights. However, in some extraordinary careers, salaries may be significantly larger. According to Spiegel Online International News, the highest paid professional female boxer in the world is Laila Ali -- daughter of the late Muhammed Ali -- who was reportedly once offered £325,000 to fight female boxing champion Ann Wolfe.
Kick-boxing and MMA
Professional boxers with an interest in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) are earning a bit more money than traditional boxers in 2011. According to Simply Hired, the average annual salary for a kick-boxer is about £23,400; an estimate about £2,600 greater than pro-boxer statistics. In an interview with the International Kickboxing Federation, MMA/Kickboxing Champion, Maurice Smith said that the International Fight League offers kick-boxers an annual salary of £16,250, plus up to £7,800 per fight with a three-fight guarantee.
Pay Per View Wages
Part of a boxers salary is determined by how much the cable television networks pay per fight for cable and pay-per-view events. In a 2011 article published by Bloody Elbow Magazine, sports writer Brent Brookhouse listed several per-fight boxing salaries obtained through the Nevada State Athletic Commission during the first three months of 2011. According to Brookhouse, some of the lowest per-event salaries included Lonnie Smith ($800) vs. Jose Gomez ($1,800) paid by ESPN 2, and Hiromitsu Miura ($600) vs. Ramiro Bueno Jr. ($1,500) who were compensated by Showtime Championship Boxing. The highest reported per-match salaries were paid to Miguel Cotto ($1 million) by Showtime pay-per-view and Nonito Donaire, who took in $350,000 on a single HBO World Championship Boxing event against Fernando Montiel ($250,000.)
A handful of the world's most successful boxers earn excessive salaries that extend far beyond the typical industry standard wages, skewing average salary figures. BLS statistics indicate that salaries for professional boxers can sometimes extend beyond $1 million per fight. According to the Fighting-MMA website, when boxers Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather fought in 2007, each reportedly took home an eight figure salary for the match with Mayweather earning $20 million, and De La Hoya -- the winner -- earned $50 million.