The idea to form the United States Boxing Association (USBA) materialized in September 1976 when the organizers decided it was time to form a new organization based in the United States and comprised of legitimate boxing commissioners from the United States and its territories. Twenty-four United States Commissions came together in April of 1977 to consider the structure of the organization. The association's first convention was held in December 1977 at which the constitution and by-laws were adopted and the USBA was well on its way to play a major role in United States boxing.
In its early years the USBA served as a springboard for its boxers to the rankings of the World Boxing Association (WBA), one of the two international sanctioning bodies at the time. In April of 1983, the members of the USBA voted to expand the organization and create an international division during the annual convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey. While the organization had grown considerably up until that time and had crowned several national champions, the opportunity for worldwide expansion was at hand. The aforementioned vote resulted in the formation of the United States Boxing Association-International (USBA-I).
The move to branch out was lead by Robert W. Lee, Sr., who subsequently was voted the entity's founding president. Lee became involved in the sport of boxing in 1976, working as deputy commissioner for the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board. At that time he also became involved with the USBA. Lee had reached the position of second vice-president of the WBA and had run for the presidency in 1980 and lost. It was then that he began seeking support to expand the USBA internationally.
The founding convention for the USBA-I was held in Newark, New Jersey in November 1983. During this convention three boxing events were scheduled in Asia to take place in the following months and several other possible events were discussed. The goals and the policies of the organization were reaffirmed but what was most prevalent was the fact that the USBA-I was created to offer advancement possibilities to those who sought them. Now there would be more opportunities for young fighters entering the professional boxing arena to showcase their talents and reach their goals of becoming world champions. This would also be the case for new promoters looking to expand into world championship boxing.
Initially the USBA-I recognized as world champions boxers who had already distinguished themselves as champions and could possibly desire to fight under the organization's banner. The first USBA-I ratings listed Marvin Hagler as its middleweight champion; he also held this title with the WBC and WBA at that time. Hagler was training to defend his unified title in a bout against Wilford Scypion when a dispute arose as to whether the bout should be scheduled for twelve or fifteen rounds. The WBA and the WBC decided the bout would be scheduled for twelve rounds, but Hagler was not in agreement and both organizations withdrew their sanction. The USBA-I was then asked to sanction this bout and did so. The fight took place on May 27, 1983 and Marvelous Marvin Hagler retained the title of world middleweight champion.
In December of 1983, the highly regarded world heavyweight champion, Larry Holmes, decided he also wanted to fight for the USBA-I title and the organization recognized him as the champion in that division. Larry Holmes fought James "Bonecrusher" Smith to defend his USBA-I Heavyweight title on November 11, 1984. This opportunity brought with it a higher measure of credibility and recognition in the worldwide boxing arena for the USBA-I.
In 1984, a vote was passed to change the name of the organization to the name it currently operates under, the International Boxing Federation/United States Boxing Federation (IBF/USBA). Since then several boxers with illustrious careers and worldwide recognition have been ranked and have fought for the organization's world title including Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Bernard Hopkins, George Foreman, Felix Trinidad, Pernell Whitaker, Julio Cesar Chavez and Oscar de la Hoya.
The IBF began rating female boxers in June of 2010, and crowned its first female champion, Daniella Smith, in November of the same year.
As the organization continued to grow and prosper on a global scale, its leaders convened once again to address the organization's name. In January 2018, the sanctioning body announced it would conduct business as the International Boxing Federation (IBF). The USBA title would still exist as a regional title under the umbrella of the IBF.