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quarkquarkquark's avatar

Are unusually long arms beneficial for a boxer?

Asked by quarkquarkquark (1690 points ) April 30th, 2009

That is, will it positively or negatively affect a boxer’s success in the ring if his arms are longer than average for someone of his height?

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14 Answers

asmonet's avatar

Couldn’t it slow you down as well?

I don’t think the length of his arms would have any noticeable effect. His skill is likely to be far more important.

Then again, I don’t box.

MrKnowItAll's avatar

Yes. It’s called ‘reach’. Measure with the left hand, hit with the right. ( the reverse for southpaws)

SeventhSense's avatar

Actually a significant reach is an asset in the ring because it allows a boxer to stay outside the range of a boxer with a lesser range and still connect. Of course it still needs to be coupled with upper body strength. Mike Tyson is a good example of a shorter boxer with the opposite strength, If he “gets inside” then he can inflict tremendous damage. Unusually and gangly arms might be a liability but generally it’s considered an asset for a good boxer to have longer arms.

quarkquarkquark's avatar

Suppose a boxer with a short arm and a boxer with a long arm are punching from the same distance—does the longer arm not provide disproportionately more momentum and thus more power?

SeventhSense's avatar

Yes but it’s also the weight of the boxer and the force and skill behind the punch. All things being equal given two boxers, the advantage goes to the one with the greater reach.

drClaw's avatar

It’s all about the jab. I have a longer reach than 80% of my opponents and long reach coupled with a strong jab gives me an advantage that allows me to stand up with fighters that are generally much more skilled.

The other thing to consider here is that reach and power are for the most part unrelated. A boxer’s punch gets its power primarily from the mechanics of the feet, legs, hips, and torso. This may not make sense, but the arms provide the least amount of power in a punch, if you ever watch a fight you will notice when a boxer throws a jab that his front foot pivots on the toes so that the heel points out, almost simultaneously his/her body turns slightly, and that is when the arm extends for the jab.

A skinny armed kid with good mechanics will always out punch the body builder who relies on only his arms for power.

quarkquarkquark's avatar

My thinking, it seems incorrectly, was that for example when throwing a right cross the boxer’s arm would basically have a longer distance to travel before straightening out. It seems like he would be able to build more momentum AND be able to connect with his target earlier in the punch; the arm would have more potential energy with which to follow through…. I think.

SeventhSense's avatar

But if you’re this guy you can deliver the one inch punch
Bob baker upon receiving it:
“I told Bruce not to do this type of demonstration again”, he recalled. “When he punched me that last time, I had to stay home from work because the pain in my chest was unbearable.”

drClaw's avatar

@quarkquarkquark your reasoning isn’t completely off base, I was talking more about the jab, which is by far the punch most effected by reach. When talking about the right cross though I could see your point of added momentum.

Darwin's avatar

My husband is currently hooked on that UFC stuff. According to what the announcers say, a fighter with longer arms has a definite advantage, but one that doesn’t make up for a lack of skill.

Basically, if all else is equal, the guy with the longer reach can hit the other guy when the two fighters are still too far apart for the other guy to make contact. But if the other guy is quicker, stronger, smarter, more creative or more resilient, then the advantage of longer reach can be overcome.

SeventhSense's avatar

@Darwin
UFC is a whole different animal. The majority of that is groundwork not boxing.

RedPowerLady's avatar

I really don’t know the answer to this but I have given you a “Great Question” for the simple fact that it put a huge smile on my face

Darwin's avatar

@SeventhSense – Not necessarily. Many of the fights never get down on the canvas. It is mixed martial arts so every fight is a different mix. Sometimes it ends up as a straight boxing match and sometimes a combination of boxing and wrestling of various sorts, with a few kicks thrown in for good measure. Every now and then it goes straight to the canvas.

In any case, UFC fights always start as boxing matches and the guy with the longer reach is generally considered to have an advantage. I have seen way too many of these matches (my husband likes me to be in the room when he watches this stuff. Since he is disabled and can’t come where I would rather be, I go to where he is and read while he watches.)

drClaw's avatar

@Darwin SeventhSense is right about UFC or Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) being a completely different animal, but you are also correct in saying that reach in MMA is incredibly important.

Also just to throw out this piece of information UFC measures reach by wingspan, or in other words they measure fingertip to fingertip (my reach is 78in). In Boxing however reach is measured from armpit to fist.

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