Does Boxing Or Fighting Stop Height?

You must have observed that some of the most successful boxers are short in height. This observation might cause parents to be concerned about boxing being the cause of their shorter height.

It is a common misconception that boxing can affect the growth of children due to which they can grow to be shorter in stature.

However, this is not true. Though most successful boxers are shorter in height, it is more of the cause than the effect.

This means boxing may not cause the person to become shorter in height. However, being shorter can help a person play the sport in a more efficient way thus increasing his or her chances of attaining success.

If you are eager to let your child try his hand at boxing but are worried it might stop his height from growing, read on to learn all about the impact of fighting and boxing on growth.

We will discuss how boxing affects the height and whether it could be responsible for a shorter stature. We will also bust the common myths that link boxing and a shorter stature.

A bit about boxing

Boxing is a sport that involves attacking opponents and defending yourself with your fists.

Boxers usually wear gloves on both hands. The gloves are padded to help withstand the impact of the blow on the delicate joints of the hands and fingers and enable the boxer to give a harder punch.

Matched in weight and the levels of skills and abilities, boxing contestants need to land hard blows with their fists, while attempting to avoid the blows from the opponent.

The match is won by a boxer by outscoring the opponent as determined by points tallied in different ways or by rendering the other boxer incapable of continuing the match. [1]

Being shorter is believed to offer a natural advantage to boxers as the shorter stature can help them blow harder punches while maintaining balance and protecting themselves against the opponent’s blows more efficiently.

But, does boxing can slow down the growth of the child and make him shorter? Let’s find out.

What is the effect of boxing on the height of players?

Several studies have been conducted to assess how boxing affects the body functions involved in growth and metabolism. These studies were aimed at evaluating the metabolic and hormonal changes occurring in the body as a result of playing this sport.

Let’s have a look at the findings of these studies to get an idea of whether boxing causes children to stop growing.

Effect of boxing on the secretion of growth hormones

Studies have proposed that there could be a link between the secretion of growth hormone and insulin growth factor-1 (IGF-1) and exercises involved in boxing training.

A significant elevation in the levels of growth hormone and IGF-1 has been noticed in sportspersons following heavy resistance exercise. [2]

This observation may be applied to boxers as the training for boxing also involves resistance exercises like lifting weights.

The rise in the levels of growth hormones could actually be beneficial for kids who play boxing as these hormones are linked to the faster growth of the tissues including bones.

The increased levels of growth hormone may help the child to grow faster and enable an improvement in his adult height.

The change in the secretion of IGF-1 could be an effect of increased growth hormone levels. The increased IGF-1 levels would further contribute to the faster growth and development of boxers in the age group of less than 20 years.

However, some studies have revealed that a considerable discrepancy exists in this pattern linking exercises and growth hormone and IGF-1 productions. It has pointed to the fact that the response of IGF-1 could be independent of the secretion of growth hormone. [3] [4]

In agreement with these studies, it can be assumed that the circulating concentrations of IGF-1 may not show any significant rise following a boxing match, despite the increased concentration of growth hormone. [5]

The results of these studies have suggested that boxing, as well as the training for boxing that involves strength training with lifting heavy weights, might cause a rise in the levels of growth hormones.

It may or may not be associated with the concomitant rise in the secretion of IGH-1.

However, these findings also point to the fact that since boxing stimulates growth hormone secretion, it is less likely to stop the growth of height of children.

It might, in fact, improve the growth and development and help the child grow taller. The results could be more noticeable when the child is trained for boxing sport from a younger age at least until the end of the growth spurts.

Also, the results of these studies are contradictory to the belief that boxing can stop a child’s growth and lead to a shorter stature. 

How does boxing affect physiological homeostasis and metabolism?

Cortisol, a hormone secreted in the body based on the diurnal variation in the circadian rhythms (body’s internal biological clock) and regulated by the pituitary hormone called ACTH, plays an important role in maintaining physiological homeostasis.

It is recognized that exercises and playing sports like boxing might provoke the secretion of ACTH and eventually, cortisol. [6]

The major functions of cortisol involve ensuring the availability of substrates for increasing the body’s metabolism during physical activities by stimulating lipolysis (the breakdown of fats), gluconeogenesis (formation of glucose molecules), and protein catabolism.

So, high cortisol levels could be a predictive indicator of exercise-induced stress.

Studies have found that the concentrations of cortisol and ACTH increase after the boxing bouts supporting the belief that the physical and behavioral stress induced due to these activities could lead to the activation of the pituitary-adrenal axis.

This indicates that boxing might help to stimulate the pituitary-adrenal axis involved in regulating the secretion of both cortisol and ACTH.

Moreover, gluconeogenesis, lipolysis, and protein catabolism stimulated during boxing bouts may enable the growth of muscles, promote fat loss, and improve lean muscle mass, thereby producing a mild favorable impact on the growth processes.

These facts further contradict the belief that boxing can stop the child’s growth or lead to a shorter adult stature.

Oxidative stress linked to boxing

Oxidative stress occurring as a result of regular exercise is another aspect of the body’s metabolic response, which is evident in sportsperson including boxers. [7]

Oxidative stress occurs following an intense workout session or a boxing match as a result of the increased production of reactive oxygen species during cellular oxygen metabolism. The excess generation of reactive oxygen species is linked to the pathophysiology of several inflammatory diseases that might affect bodily functions.

These findings could be the cause of concern as it suggests exercises or playing sports like boxing could increase the risk of diseases linked to free radical damage in sportspersons.

There is a fear that a higher total oxidant status may put the young sportspersons at a risk of metabolic dysfunctions. It might affect their growth and development leading to a shorter height.

However, though the studies have found a higher level of oxidative stress in boxers after acute exercises, they have also revealed a positive phenomenon associated with these changes.

An impressive range of natural antioxidants including SOD (oxidative stress marker), glutathione, and catalase are produced in the body in response to oxidative stress to lower oxidative damage. [8]

Studies have demonstrated that the circulating levels of these oxidative stress markers tend to increase after acute high-intensity exercise. Even the TOS (total oxidant status) levels were shown to have a marked decline following a nine-minute boxing match.

This shows that playing sports like boxing can actually help the body fight oxidative stress more efficiently.

The initial rise in the levels of reactive oxygen species would be neutralized by the marked release in the natural antioxidants thereby protecting the healthy tissues against the impact of oxidative stress.

These findings suggest that the likelihood of oxidative stress in boxers affecting their growth is minimal or even negligible.

Now that we have learned that boxing does not stop children from growing or reduce their height, let us check whether it could be beneficial for improving their height.

Can boxing help to improve the height of children?

Exercises and combat sports like boxing and fighting can provide a lot of health benefits, though changing your genetics is, unfortunately, not one of them.

Kickboxing, for all its muscle and stamina-building benefits, may not help a child grow taller, especially if both the parents are shorter.

However, boxing might help to improve your posture, making you look taller and even more imposing. Proper training for boxing could strengthen the muscles in your legs and core so that you appear the tallest possible.

There may be some other minor benefits of boxing that could be linked to an improvement in height to a certain extent. However, it would be wrong to expect a substantial increase in height by indulging in boxing, fighting or, any other sport.

Let’s have a look at these minor benefits and they might help you gain some improvement in your height.

Improvement in testosterone levels

Studies have shown that strength training and boxing can stimulate the production of the male sex hormone called testosterone. This effect is believed to occur due to the increase in the muscle mass achieved through the training.

Boxers have to undergo regular training to build strong and bulky muscles. Having strong muscles is the prerequisite to be successful at this sport as it enables the player to blow harder punches with greater impact.

Regular strength training such as lifting weights aimed at increasing the muscle mass can result in higher levels of testosterone in the body. The strength training could stimulate the body to produce more testosterone to support the efforts and meet the increased demands of the muscles.

The rise in the testosterone levels, in turn, would encourage the secretion of growth hormone and bring about an improvement in height, though to a very small extent.

Additionally, the increased testosterone levels may also accelerate the processes involved in the growth and development of the bones thus increasing your height. This is how the training involved in boxing, especially lifting weights, could support the child’s growth and improve his height.

Strengthen the core

Boxing offers one of the effective ways to improve your posture. Boxing involves training the core muscles, including the abs and the muscles in the back and spine.

So, when you engage your core naturally, you can stand taller.

Most of the punches and kicks involved in kickboxing use the core muscles as the point of power, which is why boxing could be considered a favorable sport for those with a shorter stature looking for an efficient way to appear a bit taller.

Jab-cross combo

Strengthening the core muscles while throwing punches would improve your stability and protect you from the blows by the attacker. This action involves drawing in your belly and hollowing your chest slightly. These activities would tone up your abs and train you to keep them engaged, even without making conscious efforts.

So, if you are regular at boxing, your muscles would appear toned up even when you are simply walking around. Engaging your abs would make your torso longer and straighter giving the appearance of being taller.

Upper cuts

Striking an upper cut during a boxing match requires you to use the power of the core muscles to add more strength to the punch. Training for boxing involves practicing these powerful punches. This would build your core muscles and help you look taller.

Back kicks and knee strikes

Combining a back kick with a knee strike can build your core muscles as you transfer your body weight from one leg to another to maintain balance.

This would produce a similar effect on your posture as that of other activities involved in boxing enabling you to appear taller.

The role of age in determining the effect of boxing on height

Both the positive and the falsely-perceived negative influence of boxing on the height of the child are limited in their effect on a certain age group of boxers.

So, parents who are concerned about the negative effect of boxing on the growth of their child can wait until their kid is past the age of growth and has attained adult height before allowing him to start the training for boxing.

Similarly, parents who want their child to try boxing with the aim of improving height should do so within the child’s growth years. It would be wrong to expect boxing or any other sport to bring about an improvement in height once the child has attained complete growth and has reached his adult height.

These limitations must be kept in mind when choosing boxing for increasing height.


Results of several studies have suggested that boxing does not affect the growth of the child. It does not cause the child to stop growing.

Hence, parents who want to encourage their children to try their hand (literally!) at boxing or other combat sports need not worry about its impact on their height.