We sized them up. We measured them, top to bottom. We've done our own Tale of the Tape, and we've come to a surprising conclusion. Pound for pound, the toughest sport in the world is . . .

Boxing.

The Sweet Science.

That's the sport that demands the most from the athletes who compete in it. It's harder than football, harder than baseball, harder than basketball, harder than hockey or soccer or cycling or skiing or fishing or billiards or any other of the 60 sports we rated.

In Page 2's Ultimate Degree of Difficulty Grid, boxing scores higher than them all.

SPORTSNATION: DO YOU AGREE?
  • Vote: What's the toughest sport of all?

  • Debate sports' degree of difficulty with Page 2's writers and experts in The Show

  • Think boxing's not tough? Go toe-to-toe with former heavyweight champ Hasim Rahman in the SportsNation chat room.
  • But don't take our word for it. Take the word of our panel of experts, a group made up of sports scientists from the United States Olympic Committee, of academicians who study the science of muscles and movement, of a star two-sport athlete, and of journalists who spend their professional lives watching athletes succeed and fail.

    They're the ones who told us that boxing is the most demanding sport -- and that fishing is the least demanding sport.

    We identified 10 categories, or skills, that go into athleticism, and then asked our eight panelists to assign a number from 1 to 10 to the demands each sport makes of each of those 10 skills. By totalling and averaging their responses, we arrived at a degree-of-difficulty number for each sport on a 1 to 100 scale. That number places the difficulty of performing each sport in context with the other sports we rated.

    On the grid below, click on each sortable category to find out how our 60 sports rank in each skill. A glossary key is included at the bottom of the grid that explains each category.

    So put on the gloves, get in the ring and let the roundhouse hooks begin.

    Degree of Difficulty: Sport Rankings
    SPORT END STR PWR SPD AGI FLX NER DUR HAN ANA TOTAL RANK
    Cycling: Distance 9.63 6.38 6.25 5.13 3.75 2.63 5.88 6.88 3.00 4.88 54.375 20
    Track and Field: Distance 9.63 5.25 3.75 6.00 3.25 4.38 2.00 5.75 1.88 4.13 46.000 40
    Swimming (all strokes): Distance 9.25 5.25 4.63 5.50 3.63 5.50 2.63 4.63 2.88 3.00 46.875 36
    Skiing: Nordic 9.00 5.75 4.38 5.13 4.00 4.00 2.75 5.50 3.63 3.88 48.000 30
    Boxing 8.63 8.13 8.63 6.38 6.25 4.38 8.88 8.50 7.00 5.63 72.375 1
    Rowing 8.13 7.75 7.13 4.00 2.50 4.00 1.75 4.38 2.88 3.63 46.125 39
    Water Polo 7.88 6.63 6.88 5.38 6.38 5.00 4.25 6.38 6.25 5.63 60.625 11
    Soccer 7.75 4.50 5.13 7.25 8.25 4.75 3.63 6.25 6.50 7.50 61.500 10
    Speed Skating 7.63 7.25 7.38 8.88 4.00 4.25 4.50 4.63 2.88 3.50 54.875 17
    Basketball 7.38 6.25 6.50 7.25 8.13 5.63 4.13 7.75 7.50 7.38 67.875 4
    Ice Hockey 7.25 7.13 7.88 7.75 7.63 4.88 6.00 8.25 7.50 7.50 71.750 2
    Tennis 7.25 5.13 7.13 6.75 7.75 5.63 3.00 5.00 8.38 6.75 62.750 7
    Rugby 6.75 7.00 6.38 5.88 6.00 4.13 6.50 7.88 4.38 5.63 60.500 13
    Field Hockey 6.75 4.50 5.38 6.00 5.75 4.63 3.75 5.00 6.63 6.50 54.875 17
    Canoe/Kayak 6.75 5.25 5.63 3.50 2.75 3.88 3.63 3.25 3.13 4.25 42.000 49
    SPORT END STR PWR SPD AGI FLX NER DUR HAN ANA TOTAL RANK
    Wrestling 6.63 8.38 7.13 5.13 6.38 7.50 5.00 6.75 4.25 6.38 63.500 5
    Lacrosse 6.63 5.13 5.75 7.00 6.63 4.75 4.38 6.13 7.13 6.88 60.375 14
    Figure Skating 6.38 5.25 6.63 5.13 6.88 8.25 4.88 4.00 3.13 4.25 54.750 19
    Racquetball/Squash 6.13 3.75 5.00 5.50 7.25 5.88 2.38 2.88 8.38 6.50 53.625 22
    Track and Field: Middle Distance 6.00 5.13 5.13 7.75 4.00 4.88 2.00 4.75 2.13 3.75 45.500 43
    Auto Racing 5.88 3.50 2.63 1.63 2.75 1.75 9.88 4.38 8.00 7.50 47.875 32
    Football 5.38 8.63 8.13 7.13 6.38 4.38 7.25 8.50 5.50 7.13 68.375 3
    Gymnastics 5.38 6.13 6.63 5.00 6.38 10.00 7.50 6.88 4.50 4.13 62.500 8
    Badminton 5.25 3.25 4.00 5.63 7.38 5.25 1.25 2.63 7.25 6.13 48.000 30
    Skiing: Alpine 5.13 5.25 6.00 7.38 6.13 5.63 8.38 6.00 5.13 5.63 60.625 11
    Volleyball 5.13 4.88 6.63 5.00 7.00 5.13 2.88 4.63 7.25 5.88 54.375 20
    Martial Arts 5.00 5.88 7.75 6.38 6.00 7.00 6.63 5.88 6.00 6.88 63.375 6
    Team Handball 4.88 3.88 5.38 5.50 6.00 4.50 3.00 3.88 7.88 5.88 50.750 26
    Roller Skating 4.75 3.38 4.00 5.13 4.00 3.50 2.63 3.38 2.88 2.63 36.250 52
    Baseball/Softball 4.63 5.75 7.63 6.50 6.75 4.75 5.13 5.63 9.25 6.25 62.250 9
    SPORT END STR PWR SPD AGI FLX NER DUR HAN ANA TOTAL RANK
    Surfing 4.63 5.00 4.13 4.25 6.63 5.50 8.25 5.50 4.38 4.88 53.125 23
    Fencing 4.63 3.75 4.25 5.13 6.13 5.63 4.88 4.25 7.25 6.88 52.750 24
    Water Skiing 4.63 5.00 4.50 3.00 4.25 4.75 5.88 4.63 4.13 3.25 44.000 46
    Cycling: Sprints 4.25 6.13 7.88 7.50 4.00 2.88 4.75 4.50 3.63 4.50 50.000 27
    Skiing: Freestyle 4.13 5.13 4.88 5.13 6.63 6.88 6.63 5.13 4.13 3.88 52.500 25
    Skateboarding 4.13 3.75 3.75 4.13 6.13 5.13 6.50 5.25 4.88 3.13 46.750 37
    Weight-Lifting 4.13 9.25 9.75 2.63 2.50 3.38 4.00 4.75 2.25 2.38 45.000 44
    Swimming (all strokes): Sprints 4.13 5.25 6.25 7.88 3.63 5.50 2.50 3.25 2.75 3.00 44.125 45
    Rodeo: Steer Wrestling 4.00 7.00 7.88 3.88 4.88 5.00 7.88 6.88 5.13 4.00 56.500 15
    Track and Field: Long, Triple jumps 4.00 5.63 7.13 6.75 5.00 5.75 2.75 3.25 4.00 3.13 47.375 34
    Horse Racing 4.00 3.88 2.88 1.38 2.88 3.75 8.00 4.50 3.88 6.50 41.625 50
    Cheerleading 3.63 3.63 3.38 2.25 4.13 7.50 3.63 3.38 2.50 2.25 36.250 52
    Bobsledding/Luge 3.50 5.50 6.50 6.75 4.13 3.25 7.75 3.50 4.13 4.25 49.250 28
    Ski Jumping 3.50 4.50 5.75 4.63 4.00 5.00 9.00 4.63 4.38 3.50 48.875 29
    Track and Field: Sprints 3.50 5.13 7.25 9.88 4.63 5.13 2.00 4.13 2.63 2.38 46.625 38
    SPORT END STR PWR SPD AGI FLX NER DUR HAN ANA TOTAL RANK
    Table Tennis 3.50 2.50 4.63 4.13 5.88 4.25 1.38 1.88 8.88 6.00 43.000 47
    Track and Field: Pole Vault 3.38 6.88 7.25 6.13 5.38 7.00 6.63 4.25 5.25 3.75 55.875 16
    Equestrian 3.38 3.25 1.75 1.25 2.50 2.88 6.00 2.75 2.88 5.13 31.750 54
    Rodeo: Bull/Bareback/Bronc Riding 3.25 5.38 4.00 1.75 3.63 4.25 9.50 7.38 3.63 3.13 45.875 42
    Track and Field: Weights 3.25 7.88 9.13 3.00 3.13 3.00 2.25 3.63 4.00 2.88 42.125 48
    Golf 3.25 3.88 6.13 1.63 1.75 4.00 2.50 2.38 6.00 6.38 37.875 51
    Rodeo: Calf Roping 3.13 5.38 5.00 4.25 5.63 3.88 4.88 3.75 6.38 3.75 46.000 40
    Track and Field: High Jump 3.00 6.00 7.00 6.13 5.63 6.63 3.50 3.50 3.50 2.88 47.750 33
    Diving 2.88 5.13 4.63 3.00 3.50 8.50 8.38 5.00 3.00 3.00 47.000 35
    Archery 2.88 4.50 3.13 1.13 1.63 2.63 2.75 2.13 6.63 3.25 30.625 55
    Curling 2.25 2.63 2.50 1.50 2.25 2.63 1.75 1.50 4.88 5.63 27.500 56
    Bowling 2.25 2.75 3.38 1.00 1.88 2.38 1.63 1.25 4.75 4.13 25.375 57
    Shooting 2.25 2.50 1.38 0.88 1.13 1.75 2.38 1.88 6.75 4.00 24.875 58
    Fishing 1.38 1.63 1.25 0.63 1.50 1.13 0.88 0.88 2.38 2.88 14.500 60
    Billiards 1.00 1.00 1.75 0.75 1.00 2.63 1.63 0.75 5.25 5.75 21.500 59


    Key
    ENDURANCE: The ability to continue to perform a skill or action for long periods of time. Example: Lance Armstrong
    STRENGTH: The ability to produce force. Example: NFL linebackers.
    POWER: The ability to produce strength in the shortest possible time. Example: Barry Bonds.
    SPEED: The ability to move quickly. Example: Marion Jones, Maurice Green.
    AGILITY: The ability to change direction quickly. Example: Derek Jeter, Mia Hamm.
    FLEXIBILITY: The ability to stretch the joints across a large range of motion. Example: Gymnasts, divers.
    NERVE: The ability to overcome fear. Example: High-board divers, race-car drivers, ski jumpers.
    DURABILITY: The ability to withstand physical punishment over a long period of time. Example: NBA/NHL players.
    HAND-EYE COORDINATION: The ability to react quickly to sensory perception. Example: A hitter reacting to a breaking pitch; a drag racer timing acceleration to the green light.
    ANALYTIC APTITUDE: The ability to evaluate and react appropriately to strategic situations. Example: Joe Montana reading a defense; basketball point guard on a fast break.

    Email Story Email Story | Most Sent Most Sent