The Early History Of Boxing



The ancient Egyptian civilization holds the very first records of bare hand-to-hand combats. Further records were found among the archives and art works of the Greek and Roman civilizations and these evidently suggest that boxing was already a public favorite. This is because during these civilizations, boxing has already become an organized and highly favored public spectacle.

However, only during the 18th century did England popularized boxing as a sport and not a brutal and bloody spectacle comparable with those fights seen in the gladiator arenas. But even in 18th century England, boxing was seen more of a bloody fight than a game. Nonetheless, this was the time when the first boxing champions were formally recognized and actually held titles in the International Boxing Hall of Fame. The so-called boxing pioneers then fought with bare knuckles. While these pioneers had already passed out of history, they laid the substance of boxing as a sport as we know it today.

The Bare Knuckles Era is essentially the period when formal boxing fights were introduced. During these times, boxers fought without restriction and they fought only in an arbitrary ring created by the circling of the spectators themselves. Referees and gloves were just about to be introduced so during this period, fighters fought for as long as they can endure. Fight then could sometimes last for hours for there were no time limits yet and they could continue through the next day depending on the arrangements between the boxers.

Also, rules were not yet present so the game was basically governed by the fighter's sense of sportsmanship. Naturally, there were no violations for hitting below the belt or for using a small cudgel. Blood was of course present and injuries were common. The main objective of the game, however, is somewhat the same with the current objective- defeat the opponent.

This type of boxing basically remained constant before modern boxing came into scene. So for many decades, there were no rules, no referees, no guidelines and no proper trainings that boxers received. In fact, there were no considerations for the weight classes of the fighters. So heavy weights can fight with flyweight and bantam weight can fight with super heavy weight and so on. During these times, bouts were organized by way of sending letter of invitations between contenders.

The working class was first to patronize the sport until it caught the attention of the titled class and the royalty. Wealthy enthusiasts then worked to somewhat organize the fights by sponsoring them. It was during this time that rings permanently became a square platform instead of the ring of people who surround the boxers. It was also at this time when the first formal rules were set by Jack Broughton, who himself was a former boxing champion.

Until 1838, the rudimentary rules as outlined by Broughton's Rules were followed until a more detailed and more organized rule of the London Prize Ring Rules was put forth. This was followed immediately by the appearance of Daniel Mendoza who introduced a more scientific approach to boxing.

He was an English champion for four years and he helped recreate boxing fights, minus the usual anything-goes crudeness. And so, it was partially thanks to him that boxing eventually outgrew its marathon-like set-up, its crudity, and its characteristics that lent championship to boxers who were not actually skilled in boxing but were only cunning enough to defeat their opponents.

From this period, succession of developments occurred which led to the current system of boxing we have nowadays.




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