Do Boxers Have To Register Their Hands?

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There’s this saying that goes around, I’m sure you’ve heard ones like it before:

Bruce Lee’s hands had to be registered as lethal weapons.

WOAH. This guy must have been badass. Sorry to burst your windpipe, pal, but it is not true.

Do boxers have to register their hands? Professional boxers do not have to register their hands as lethal weapons. There isn’t any governing body or law that requires it. But the hands of a boxer could be considered a deadly weapon in a court of law if they are used to inflict serious harm.

Keep on reading to learn exactly how this myth began and what can happen in a court of law if you use your hands with lethal force!

Are boxers hands considered weapons?

A boxer’s hands could be considered lethal weapons in a court of law if used to inflict serious damage to another person. But in general, a boxer doesn’t need to register their hands as a lethal weapon because there is no law requiring it.

I’m sure like me you’d agree that the hands of a professional boxer are pretty lethal.

But do boxers have to register their hands? Registering parts of your body as lethal weapons isn’t true – it’s a myth!

Also Read: Why Do UFC Fighters Have Weird Ears?

So where the heck does it come from? Two places:

Joe Louis

The first one is Joe Louis (Who the hell is Joe Louis?). Joe was a Heavyweight Boxing Champion and was one of the boxers of his time to bring a police officer to the weigh-ins and have his hands registered as “deadly weapons” before the fight.

Joe Louis

It was all a big publicity stunt! And it worked. We’re still using this idea today even though it’s a complete myth.

World War II

The second place this myth comes from is post-World War II in Japan.

Because of the backlash against Japan, where martial arts were practiced, there was a complete ban on martial arts.

Not only that but known martial artists were logged in records to keep an eye on them and stop them from practicing.

So there isn’t any truth to any boxer or martial artist needing to register their hands as lethal weapons. A mix of publicity stunts and hear-say has kept this myth alive.

Can your hands be classified as deadly weapons?

If you have a high level of skill in using your hands to inflict damage, then they could be considered a potentially deadly weapon in a court of law. Any experienced boxer or martial artist could suffer the wrong end of the law if they inflict serious damage.

We’ve answered the question do boxers have to register their hands (which is a resounding no) but they still could be classified as weapons if they are used as it.

There have been examples of court cases where a boxer has been convicted of a crime for using their hands as a deadly weapon.

In Texas, an experienced mixed martial artist was found guilty of aggravated assault due to their experience with their hands:

Thus, when viewed in a light most favorable to the State, we conclude that the State presented substantial evidence of each element of AWDWISI, and that Defendant’s hands, feet, and teeth were deadly weapons for the purposes of AWDWISI. Furthermore, we are reminded that the jury is the best determinant of whether, under the circumstances, Defendant’s use of his hands, fists, and teeth were likely to cause death or serious bodily injury.


If you happen to be involved in a fight and you have significant boxing or martial arts experience, you could find yourself on the guilty end of a jury.

Pick your fights wisely!

If you’re wondering are boxing gloves are considered weapons? Then the answer is no, they’re just protective gear that mainly protects your fists more than an opponent.

Is it illegal for a boxer to street fight?

There is a rumor that a boxer has to state their expertise three times before they retaliate if engaged in a street fight. But there’s no law making it illegal for a boxer to a street fight.

Oh ok thanks Mr. professional boxer, I won’t continue with this fight. Good day sir!

If a boxer or martial artist gets in a fight then they will have certain rights to defend themselves like you or me.

BUT should this fight get out of hand and end up in court, then as I wrote earlier they could end up with a lot of trouble.

The skill they have with their hands could make them considered as deadly weapons like using any other blunt or sharp object.

It’s important here for the fighter, whatever unique level of experience they have, to only use their skills to act in self-defense.

If you’ve got the power to break someone’s jaw and you’re actively going after an opponent when they are no longer posing a threat, then you could quite easily end up being charged with aggravated assault.

Were Bruce Lee’s hands registered as lethal weapons?

Bruce Lee’s hands were never registered as lethal weapons because there isn’t a legal requirement for it. This myth came from the film “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” in which the Bruce Lee character, played by Mike Moh, describes his hands to be “registered as lethal weapons”.

Whilst Bruce was such a knowledgeable martial artist that he even created his own, called Jeet Kune Do, he didn’t have to put his fists as weapons on any register.

It’s a little white lie going around that Bruce Lee himself had his hands registered as lethal weapons.

This one is a more recent creation as it comes from the film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

In the scene, Bruce Lee (played by Mike Moh) argues with another character, Cliff Booth (played by Brad Pitt):

Lee: You’re the one with the big mouth. And I would really enjoy closing it, especially in front of all my friends. But my hands are registered as lethal weapons. That means we get into a fight, I accidentally kill you, I go to jail.

Booth: Anybody accidentally kills anybody in a fight, they go to jail. It’s called manslaughter.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019)

Is Mike Tyson’s hands registered as lethal weapons?

Mike Tyson’s hands are not registered as lethal weapons because there is not a governing body or law that requires this, even for a professional fighter with knockout power like Mike Tyson.

Animated GIF of Mike Tyson's lethal uppercut

I know I wouldn’t want to feel one of Mike’s body hooks or uppercuts. Even inside the ring!

Many boxers might talk about the lethality of their hands and their ability, but it’s all just a big load of ego-boosting and publicity hyping to make the upcoming fight all that much more exciting.

Are UFC fighters hands registered weapons?

Mixed martial artists may have some of the deadliest hands on the planet, but they still do not have to register their hands. Even professional fighters, like those under the UFC promotion, don’t have to register their hands, legs, elbows, or any other lethal limb they have.

Professional mixed martial artists are some of the most dangerous mofo’s on the planet as they typically have not just talents with their fists but also with things like leg kicks, takedowns, and submissions.

Related: How To Get Into MMA

But despite any of these, no, UFC fighters do not have to register their hands anywhere even if they are potentially lethal. They don’t have to register any of their body parts.

As discussed earlier in this article, having skills with your fighting ability could make you a higher risk in a court of law. So use your skills wisely.

Final Thoughts

So do boxers have to register their hands as lethal weapons? No, they don’t!

There are many myths about boxers and martial artists.

The majority of these are not true. It’s nothing except for publicity intended to generate excitement around a boxer or fighter.

If you have a lot of skill with using your hands in boxing, they could be lethal weapons in court.

It turns out that some have been convicted of assault crimes because of their expertise.

If you’re an experienced fighter, think twice about using your skills in a fight that isn’t worth it!

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