Being extremely tall has many benefits, but what about sports endeavor, especially when it comes to combat sports. So what are the plus and minus height points for boxing, hurling, mixed martial arts etc. How can a competitor use extra height to gain a competitive advantage over an opponent with a different physical composition.
Let’s look at the key characteristics of the tallest sports person. First and foremost is the ability to reach out and take a step further. Being taller means longer arms and legs, which means a longer reach ability and a longer stride ability. This is a huge advantage in many sports, but especially combat sports. In most sports of the opponent type the ability to beat your opponent and not hitting the key is the key to victory. The most common way to do this is to use better reach. If, for example in boxing, the tallest boxer has the ability to keep the fight at long distances ie the two boxers are always separated by a distance that allows the tallest boxer to land his pounds, but the smaller boxer keeps falling but short with his punch, the highest boxer must win. This is easier said than done. Mike Tyson would be a classic example of a relatively small boxer who regularly chased the much taller protesters than him. Tyson, in his younger days, had enough power and strength to close in on his opponent, through inward turns and often through punches, to land his own pounds, usually with devastating effect. Thomas Hearns would be a classic case of a tall boxer, usually fighting much smaller men. His fights against Hagler, Hearns and Duran during the 1980s are a classic high fighter versus matching fighter matches. Things didn’t always go in all those fights, but it was against some of the best weights in any generation.
A sport like Wrestling (Olympic, not the WW on stage of such events) is usually a high case without being a big advantage. In fact shorter levers, a tighter powerful body and excellent balance are likely to be more advantageous in this sport. As with Ju-Jitsu and all those who engage in combat sports, being taller than your opponent is not a significant advantage at all. The recent popularity of Mixed Martial Arts events like UFC shows the advantage of the top fighter when the fight is in steady and hit mode. But this advantage is usually neutralized when the competition develops into a terrible, ground-style fighting.
Like many things in life, being tall has many benefits. Being high in combat sports is not the same.