History Of Boxing

Through the passage of time, boxing has developed into an all-American sport and one that many boxing fans appreciate.

ArticlesandContent.com · Oct 7, 2021 (written 2005)

Boxing, a popular sport involving hand-to-hand combat, is sometimes identified as pugilism. In this particular sport, two opponents wearing padded gloves enter into a ring and fight or box one another. This sport is supervised by a person identified as a referee who is one that monitors rounds lasting anywhere from one to three minutes in duration. This particular sport has been played by many ancient cultures. Through the passage of time, the sport has developed into an all-American sport and one that many boxing fans appreciate.

Image Description
Vintage boxing gloves.

History Of Boxing: How It Began

The earliest reference to the use of boxing gloves can be identified in relief carvings found in Sumeria, which date as far back as the third millennium BCE. References to boxing have also been found in ancient Egyptian relief carvings dating to the second millennium BCE. These reliefs display fighters fighting with bare hands in front of observers. In the early 1920s, an archaeologist by the name of Dr. E.A. Speiser found a stone tablet while digging in Baghdad, Iraq from the Mesopotamian era that illustrates two fighters preparing for a fight: it is believed that the tablet is roughly seven thousand years old. The use of gloves didn’t come into being until circa 1500 to 900 BCE on Sardonia and Minoan Crete.

In ancient Greece, Homer wrote of boxing in the “Iliad” dated circa 800 BCE. Alternative legends suggest that Theseus, a Greek Ruler, had created a competition similar to boxing circa the ninth century BCE where opponents would be seated as they delivered blows to one another with the fists; these fights allegedly continued until the death of one of the fighters. The Greeks introduced boxing into the Olympic Games circa 688 BCE, but at the time, the game was referred to as Pygmachia or Pygme. Fighters would practice on korykos, otherwise understood as early forms of the punching bag. During the fist fights they would don on himantes, which were leather straps that were fitted over the breast, wrists, and hands; these were the first forms of protective garments for fighters.


History Of Boxing: How It Changed

When the Romans became the dominant culture, there proved a waning interest in hand to hand combat and fist fighting. Nevertheless, between the twelfth and seventeenth centuries, there is some evidence that fist fighting continued in various regions of Italy. In ancient Rus, there was a sport similar to boxing simply identified as Fistfight. While there was a waning interest in the sport of boxing after the sword became a popular weapon, interest was clearly renewed when some people got involved with fencing that involved techniques using the fists.

By the eighteenth century, boxing became popular in regions of England and involved bare knuckled combat. The latter form of fighting was identified as prizefighting. The first prizefight occurred in the early 1680. James Figg proved the first champion of the sport from England in the year 1719. Around the same time the competition of prizefighting became known as “boxing.” The latter competitions varied greatly from contemporary boxing matches and included fist combat, cudgeling, and fencing. A year later, the first boxing competition was recorded as having occurred in Britain between the Duke of Albemarle, Christopher Monck, and his butler; the latter of which proved the winner.

In the earliest days of the sport boxing was a free for all with no regulations in place pertaining to match length, equipment use, or practical safety considerations. At this time the games lacked any kind of referee and no time limitation was placed on matches. It wasn’t until the 1740s, with the creation of boxing rules that those that participated in the competitions were beginning to focus on safety. Jack Broughton, a bare knuckle fighter devised the Broughton Rules in the year 1743, which proposed that when an opponent was down for a count of thirty, the fight ended. His rules also asserted that striking a fighter that was down or that striking the opponent anywhere below the waist was forbidden. Broughton is also cited with the creation of mufflers; the predecessors to the modern day boxing gloves used today.

Modern Day Boxing

By the late 1860s, John Chambers had drafted the Marquess of Queensberry Rules for boxing. The rules were created for competitions being hosted in London for amateur boxers; the regulations were actually formed due to the Marquess of Queensberry’s patronage, hence the name of the rules created. By the year 1882, a court case determined that bare knuckled fighting was considered an assault, regardless as to whether or not those that participated in the fights did so willingly; the landmark case of R v. Coney therefore led to the end of public bare knuckle fights in England.

In 1892, Jim Corbett proved the first heavyweight boxing champion that fought under the regulations set forth in the Marquess of Queensbury Rules. The match was between Corbet and John L. Sullivan and was hosted in New Orleans at the Pelican Athletic Club. During the twentieth century, men participating in boxing continued to try and make boxing a serious and legitimate sport. A number of professional boxing associations were eventually established to further regulate the sport and to make the practice as safe as possible.

Today there are amateur and professional boxing matches. Of the two types of boxing, the professional matches tend to last a lot longer as they can run anywhere from ten to as many as twelve rounds. This is a significant change from the matches conducted during the early twentieth century where there was no limit placed on the rounds in a match. Later, championship matches were limited to as many as fifteen rounds; however, following the death of Duk Koo Kim, the matches were then reduced to a total of twelve in the 1980s.


History Of The Boxing Glove

While sometimes hand protection was worn in fighting competitions in Ancient Greece and Rome, boxing gloves didn’t become widely used until the late nineteenth century. In Greece, fighters would don on straps made of leather to protect the hands during fighting competitions, and Romans often wore what is identified as the gladiator’s cestus: gloves with metal features for inflicting a good degree of damage during fights.

Gloves have been mandated in boxing since the early 1890s. Prior to that time, many fights were bare knuckle competitions; this changed after the London Prize Ring regulations when into effect; some boxers began wearing boxing gloves. Yet, the history of boxing reveals that it wasn’t until 1867 after the wide publication of the Marquess of Queensberry rules that wearing boxing gloves became more popular. At first gloves were more like padded mittens. Jack Broughton, a second heavyweight champion, created the first padded gloves during the bare-knuckle boxing era: these gloves were called mufflers and were created in response for a need for greater safety during fighting competitions.


Modern Boxing Gloves

Today’s gloves are crafted out of leather; the index, middle, ring, and pinky fingers slide into one, large open slot on the inside of each glove and separate slots are offered for the thumb in each glove. The glove is well padded to protect against injuries; often times the boxer will tape his or her knuckles to ensure that the joints and bones in the hand remain protected from further injury. Modern gloves weigh about 227 grams or 8 ounces a piece when worn by a professional boxer. Meanwhile, amateur boxers might wear gloves that are only 170 grams or 6 ounces each. Gloves are mandatory equipment in boxing today whether boxing in amateur fights, in professional fights or in the Olympics.


History Of The Boxing Ring

In the history of boxing, people use to crowd around the competitors in a ring like configuration; this is where the notion of a boxing ring comes from. The English heavyweight champion, Jack Broughton who is responsible for the first set of padded gloves used in boxing, devised new fighting rules for safety that called for an area that was squared off and protected from spectators. The first notion of a square ring was therefore devised in 1743. Even later in 1838 when the London Prize Ring Rules were established, regulations asserted that fighters must compete in a square ring cordoned off by ropes: the ring was to measure 7.3 meters or 24 feet. .


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