Boxing, also called pugilism, is a combat sport in which two people fight each other using their fists. Boxing is supervised by a referee over a series of between one to three minute intervals called rounds. The boxers are generally of similar weight. There are four ways to win; if the opponent is knocked out and unable to get up before the referee counts to ten seconds (a knockout, or KO), if the opponent is deemed unable to continue (a Technical Knockout, or TKO), if an opponent is disqualified for breaking a rule, or a winner is determined either by the referee's decision or by judges' scorecards at the end of the bout. There are two forms of boxing, amateur and professional.
The birth hour of boxing as a sport may be its acceptance by the ancient Greeks as an Olympic game as early as 688 BC. Modern boxing evolved in Europe, particularly Great Britain.
Fist fighting depicted in Sumerian relief carvings from the 3rd millennium BC, while an ancient Egyptian relief from the 2nd millennium BC depicts both fist-fighters and spectators.Both depictions show bare-fisted contests.Other depictions can be seen in Assyrian, Babylonian and Hittite art. In 1927 Dr. E. A. Speiser, an archaeologist, discovered a Mesopotamian stone tablet in Baghdad, Iraq depicting two men getting ready for a prize fight. The tablet is believed to be 7,000 years old.The earliest evidence for fist fighting with any kind of gloves can be found on Minoan Crete (c. 1500–900 BC), and on Sardinia, if we consider the boxing statues of Prama mountains (c. 2000–1000 BC).
Broughton's rules (1743)
Records of Classical boxing activity disappeared after the fall of the Western Roman Empire when the wearing of weapons became common once again and interest in fighting with the fists waned. However, there are detailed records of various fist-fighting sports that were maintained in different cities and provinces of Italy between the 12th and 17th centuries. There was also a sport in ancient Rus called Fistfight. As the wearing of swords became less common, there was renewed interest in fencing with the fists. The sport would later resurface in England during the early 16th century in the form of bare-knuckle boxing sometimes referred to as prizefighting. The first documented account of a bare-knuckle fight in England appeared in 1681 in the London Protestant Mercury, and the first English bare-knuckle champion was James Figg in 1719. This is also the time when the word "boxing" first came to be used. It should be noted, that this earliest form of modern boxing was very different. Contests in Mr. Figg's time, in addition to fistfighting, also contained fencing and cudgeling. On 6 January 1681, the first recorded boxing match took place in Britain when Christopher Monck, 2nd Duke of Albemarle (and later Lieutenant Governor of Jamaica) engineered a bout between his butler and his butcher with the latter winning the prize.Early fighting had no written rules. There were no weight divisions or round limits, and no referee. In general, it was extremely chaotic. The first boxing rules, called the Broughton's rules, were introduced by heavyweight champion Jack Broughton in 1743 to protect fighters in the ring where deaths sometimes occurred.Under these rules, if a man went down and could not continue after a count of 30 seconds, the fight was over. Hitting a downed fighter and grasping below the waist were prohibited. Broughton also invented and encouraged the use of "mufflers", a form of padded gloves, which were used in training and exhibitions. The first paper on boxing was published in the late 18th century by successful Birmingham boxer 'William Futrell' who remained undefeated until his one hour and seventeen minute fight at Smitham Bottom, Croydon, on July 9, 1788 against a much younger "Gentleman" John Jackson which was attended by the Prince of Wales.Tom Molineaux vs Tom Cribb in a re-match for the heavyweight championship of England, 1811.These rules did allow the fighters an advantage not enjoyed by today's boxers: They permitted the fighter to drop to one knee to begin a 30-second count at any time. Thus a fighter realizing he was in trouble had an opportunity to recover. However, this was considered "unmanly" and was frequently disallowed by additional rules negotiated by the Seconds of the Boxers.Intentionally going down in modern boxing will cause the recovering fighter to lose points in the scoring system. Furthermore, as the contestants did not have heavy leather gloves and wristwraps to protect their hands, a certain amount of restraint was required when striking the head.
London Prize Ring rules (1838)
In 1838, the London Prize Ring rules were codified. Later revised in 1853, they stipulated the following:
- Fights occurred in a 24 feet (7.3 m)-square ring surrounded by ropes.
- If a fighter was knocked down, he had to rise within 30 seconds under his own power to be allowed to continue.
- Biting, headbutting and hitting below the belt were declared fouls.
Marquess of Queensberry rules (1867)
In 1867, the Marquess of Queensberry rules were drafted by John Chambers for amateur championships held at Lillie Bridge in London for Lightweights, Middleweights and Heavyweights. The rules were published under the patronage of the Marquess of Queensberry, whose name has always been associated with them.
The June 1894 Leonard–Cushing bout. Each of the six one-minute rounds recorded by the Kinetograph was made available to exhibitors for $22.50. Customers who watched the final round saw Leonard score a knockdown.
There were twelve rules in all, and they specified that fights should be "a fair stand-up boxing match" in a 24-foot-square or similar ring. Rounds were three minutes long with one minute rest intervals between rounds. Each fighter was given a ten-second count if he was knocked down and wrestling was banned.
The introduction of gloves of "fair-size" also changed the nature of the bouts. An average pair of boxing gloves resembles a bloated pair of mittens and are laced up around the wrists.The gloves can be used to block an opponent's blows. As a result of their introduction, bouts became longer and more strategic with greater importance attached to defensive maneuvers such as slipping, bobbing, countering and angling. Because less defensive emphasis was placed on the use of the forearms and more on the gloves, the classical forearms outwards, torso leaning back stance of the bare knuckle boxer was modified to more modern stance in which the torso is tilted forward and the hands are held closer to the face.
Through the late nineteenth century, boxing or prizefighting was primarily a sport of dubious legitimacy. Outlawed in England and much of the United States, prizefights were often held at gambling venues and broken up by police.Brawling and wrestling tactics continued, and riots at prizefights were common occurrences. Still, throughout this period, there arose some notable bare knuckle champions who developed fairly sophisticated fighting tactics.
The English case of R v. Coney in 1882 found that a bare-knuckle fight was an assault occasioning actual bodily harm, despite the consent of the participants. This marked the end of widespread public bare-knuckle contests in England.
The first world heavyweight champion under the Queensberry Rules was "Gentleman Jim" Corbett, who defeated John L. Sullivan in 1892 at the Pelican Athletic Club in New Orleans.
Throughout the early twentieth century, boxers struggled to achieve legitimacy, aided by the influence of promoters like Tex Rickard and the popularity of great champions from John L. Sullivan to Jack Dempsey. Shortly after this era, boxing commissions and other sanctioning bodies were established to regulate the sport and establish universally recognized champions.