What is Boxing?

Modern boxing is a fighting contest between two people who try to either knock each other out or win on points according to a set of rules commonly called the ‘Marquis of Queensbury’ rules.

The fighters have to be of similar weights, are generally (though by no means always) fairly matched in terms of skill and use only punching techniques to hit their opponent.

They wear certain safety gear such as boxing gloves, groin guards and gum shields. Sometimes headgear is also worn, especially in non-professional fights.

Talk the Talk

Boxing can also be called pugilism and a boxer referred to as a pugilist. This comes from the Latin word pugil meaning a boxer.

Boxing Quote

"The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses - behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights".

~ Muhammad Ali ~

 The History of Boxing

Early Forms of Boxing

Boxing can be said to date back to ancient times as fighters have stood against each other in hand to hand combat competitions held for the entertainment of others since the earliest human civilisations.

The ancient Greeks, who believed a form of fighting for the sake of sport had been invented by the gods on Mount Olympus, were known to partake in a sport akin to boxing and in 688 BCE, it was made a part of the Olympic Games.

In ancient Rome the boxing scene provided a common spectator sport until eventually in around 400 CE, the Roman establishment, who by this time had adopted Christianity, abolished it as it was seen as a particularly brutal activity.

Professional vs. Amateur Boxing

Boxing is a combat sport where two people engage in a contest of strength. It is an intense sport where boxers throw punches at each other with gloves. The game is controlled by a referee, who officiates a series of one to three minute rounds depending on if they are professional or amateur fights.
 
In Professional boxing matches they can last up to three minutes long and the bouts can last anywhere between four to thirteen rounds.  The main objective in professional boxing is to win each round or get a knock out. If a boxer knocks his opponent down or hits him hard enough for the ref to instigate a ‘standing count’, he rarely loses the round.

In amateur boxing the bouts are usually around three to four rounds long and only last up to two minutes. Amateur boxing can be found at events like the Olympic Games and Commonwealth Games, and the objective is to win points by landing more scoring shots on the opponents target area.
  
Besides the view on boxing being a rough sport, the big fights still remain some of the most watched athletics events across the world despite the recent rise of the popular MMA sports. We can thank boxing legends Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, and George Foreman that boxing numbers have increased, with online bookmakers Betway title fight, Groves v Froch, selling out the 70,000 seating stadium Wembley within 5 minutes.

The 17th Century Boxing Revival

Although fistfights done for sport or entertainment undoubtedly took place throughout history, there was no real coherence or connection between bouts or fighters after boxing was banned by the Romans until in the 17th century, it saw a major revival in London.

By the 1680s, matches had started to become common in Britain’s capitol city and by the turn of the century, scheduled fights were taking place at the Royal Theatre.

Some of the best fighters on the boxing scene at the time would tour the country in ‘Booths’, where they would challenge anyone to go a set number of rounds with them for the entertainment of the crowd and a cash reward for the few who could manage it.

When not fighting in booths, prize-fighters would go up against each other in bare knuckle fights that would have an unlimited number of rounds and would continue until someone was knocked out or unable to go on. Very little skill would usually be involved in these early stages of modern pugilism history, though this changed over time as boxers came along who found ways to use tactics and brain power to overcome bigger and stronger opponents.

In the mid-eighteenth century, John ‘Jack’ Broughton (pictured above) became known as the Father of English Boxing after he introduced a number of rules. They were mainly concerned with the safety of the fighters and included banning hitting a man when he was down and low punches; he also introduced helmets and boxing gloves filled with horse hair, though these were just used for training purposes.

Boxing in the Modern Era

Broughton’s rules would be the only real regulation the sport had for around one hundred years until in the 19th century, the sport developed further with the introduction of the Queensbury

Rules. Boxing gloves worn within the fights, three minute rounds, the ten second count and a ban on wrestling moves were all introduced making boxing recognisable as the sport that we know today.

Towards the start of the 20th century, America began to take an interest in boxing and Britain’s stranglehold on the world titles began to wane. Throughout the century, new weights, rules, safety guidelines and boxing commissions have gradually been introduced and today boxing is recognised as one of the most popular sports on the planet, bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars each year and entertaining countless people in the process.


Further Reading


Holland, G. [Internet]. 2008. History of London Boxing. The BBC. Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/london/content/articles/2007/11/13/early_boxing_history_feature.shtml [Accessed April 12, 2013].

Kent, G.  2009.  The Little Book of Boxing.  The History Press.  Gloucestershire.

Poliakoff, M.  [Internet].  2013.  Boxing.  Britannica.  Available from: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/76377/boxing  [Accessed April 12, 2013].


The Ancient Olympics: Bridging past and present.  [Internet].  2013.  The Open University.  Available from: http://www.open.edu/openlearn/body-mind/health/sport-and-fitness/the-ancient-olympics-bridging-past-and-present/content-section-8.2  [Accessed April 12, 2013].

 More Boxing History

Boxing in the Ancient World

Ancient boxing had many things in common to the sport practiced today, though with fewer rules it was often a far more violent affair. While it did have its detractors, this did nothing to stem the interest in it and contests seem to have been commonplace throughout the period.....Read Article
Boxing in the 18th Century

Modern pugilism history really began to develop in the 18th century as contests began to be regulated and safety measures started being put in place. However the boxing scene also saw some dark days in this period as diving for a payoff is also believed to have taken root.....Read Article
Boxing in the 19th Century

A look at the many fighters who are credited with holding the bare knuckle boxing title in the 19th century. From Jem Belcher, who held the distinction at the turn of the century, to Jem Mace, who made the switch to using boxing gloves following the introduction of the Queensbury Rules.....Read Article
Post-Queensbury Rules Boxing Culture

When the Queensbury Rules were introduced to boxing in 1867, the sport began to become more professional and socially acceptable. However for black boxers, rising to the top became more difficult as the sport became institutionally racist.....Read Article
Little Known Facts About Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali is one of the most written about sportsmen of all time and has led an interesting and varied life both inside and outside the ring. Most are aware of his accomplishments in boxing, but there are some things about The People's Champion that can still be surprising to many.....Read More
 
 

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