Can a 21-year-old take more punishment than a 17-year-old?

Last updated on August 19, 2020


Here’s a question about a topic that made me wonder and am looking for the answer so I figured that you’d be the best person to ask that’d be able to fill me in on a detailed answer.

Well, to start things off, I am an amateur boxer, I have been in boxing since I was 10 years old and always wanted to try to make it to the Olympics. Particularly the 2008 Olympics which would make me 17 years old. However, there is an older guy that goes to my gym to talk to my boxing trainer, they are good friends and usually, I have a chat with him about boxing. I told him I want to try to go to the Olympics next year at age 17, he told me he doesn’t think it’s a very good idea. He explained things and said that if I went next year, I’d be fighting guys that are 21 years old and older. He said that when you’re 17, you’re still a boy and a 21-year-old is a full-grown man and physical strength difference is too much. Make a long story short, he advised that I wait ’til I’m 21, he also said that “when you’re 21, you’ll be able to take more of a beating and your body will be able to take more punishment than you could at 17”?

Is this true? When I’m 21, will I’d be able to take more punishment than at 17? And why is this?


He might be right in general, but he could be wrong in your particular situation. In general, a 17-year-old is in the latter part of stage 4 of development. He has just begun to be able to put on large muscles, thus he would be outclassed by older men who have been building muscles for several years. But as we have talked about in the past, if you are already in stage 5 and have been for several years, then you have already been building muscles.

Of course, in any sport experience will often outdo raw strength. What you can’t make up is the fact that you will be going against men who have four or more years of experience in boxing than you have. Whether you have the ability to compete is only something your trainer can tell you.

Also, boxing is a brutal sport, and unfortunately repeated blows to the head will affect your thinking process. I won’t be at all surprised to learn that the longer you are in this sport, the less you notice (or pay attention to) the punishment your body is taking. It is very likely a more experienced boxer is more numb to physical pain.

But there is something more important to consider in regards to the thinking process. Even if you’ve reached stage 5, you still have several years of mental maturing ahead of you. At your age, you will be more inclined to take risks and do things without fully considering the consequences. This is because the centers of your brain that handle risk assessment are one of the last to develop. Taking a risk might land you some lucky blows, but in the long run, I would guarantee the man who is thinking several moves ahead, holding back on moves that are too risky, and saving himself for the more sure shots is going to do better.

Finally, you need to consider the source. You didn’t speak of the man’s expertise in the field other than that he is a friend of your trainer. If you said he was an Olympic trainer, then he would definitely be someone worth listening to. If he just watches a lot of boxing, well, armchair participants are long on opinions, but short on true knowledge.

Even if you are not at the absolute optimum age if you can make it into the Olympics, go for it. There is no better experience than actually trying. You might not make it all the way. You might not win the gold, but you will have some powerful experience under your belt and you are young enough to try several more times before you are too old to box (I think the upper limit on Olympic boxing is 34). Your experience this round is going to improve your boxing so much that you’ll be an even better contender for the next round. The Olympics are not a one-shot deal.

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified” (I Corinthians 9:24-27).



Thanks for your reply. This guy isn’t an Olympic trainer or anything, just a guy who watches a lot of boxing. I believe what he meant is that a 21-year-old can just take more punishment to their body than a 17-year-old can, regardless of experience. Is that true though?

For example, in professional boxing, an 18-year-old can fight a 30-year-old. Anyone 18 years old can fight anyone at any age over 18. So, say you have a guy that is 21 years old fighting a guy who is 31 years old, both 160 pounds, the 21-year-old would be able to take his punch now, but when he was 15, that 31-year-old would have been 25 and there is no way he’d have been able to take his best shot then. So why can he at 21? I apologize for the confusion if there is any, and if it’s a stupid question. I have just always wondered about this.


We’re back to what I first said. He might be right in general, but wrong about you. For instance, two of my boys when they were 17 were skinny as rails because they hadn’t reached the level of maturity to develop muscles. They had two friends who were also 17, but they were very muscular. Even though they were the same age, their friends were a stage or more ahead of them in development.

Most guys at 15 aren’t fully, physically mature. Of course, a 25-year-old who has completely matured is going to be able to take more punches because he has more muscles to withstand the punishment. But what is true in general is not necessarily true for an individual.

Again, consider the source when you get “free” advice from people. The homeless man on the street isn’t going to steer you well in making financial choices. I don’t go to my mechanic about the ache in my side (unless I can find a mechanic who used to be a doctor). If you want to know about getting into the Olympics, go find an Olympic boxing coach and talk to him.

For your spiritual education, read through the sermon and verses in “Consider the Source