History of Boxing
oxing is one of the most popular games, especially in Europe and the Americas. Legends like Muhammad Ali, Jack Johnson, Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Benny Leonard, Mickey Walker along with many stars have brought worldwide fame and recognition to the sport. Boxing was earlier known by the name Pugilism, meaning sweet science.
Historical evidence lead to the fact that boxing was prevalent in North Africa in 4000 BC. It was also popularly played in Greek and Rome. The rules were crude then and boxers often indulged in lethal boxing rounds with leather taped on their bare hands. It is believed that In Ancient Rome, the boxing fighters were usually offenders and slaves. They played the game to win and gain independence. However, facts also point to free men fighting for competition and the spirit of sport. Eventually, Augustus is known to have banned fighting. It is also said that in 500 A.D. Theodoric banned the sport, owing to its popularity and growing distraction caused in public life.
The first signs of documented records take you to the year 1681 in Britain. It is a popular belief that the Duke of Albemarle held a boxing competition between his butcher and butler. The common reason for such matches is believed to be amusement and fun.
Prior to 1866, Jack Boughtonis is credited with establishing a set of rules for boxing. It is said Jack decided to publish the rules in 1743 after a grisly match with one of his opponents who died during the match. The legend was popularly known as the ‘Father of Boxing’.
However, the more recognizable development occurred during a time known as modern era in boxing. In the year 1866, the Marquess of Queensberry consented to a new set of boxing rules. The rules were titled with his name. The new rules introduced limited number of 3-minute rounds. It also banned gouging and wrestling during the match and made gloves compulsory. It took a while for bare-knuckled fights to completely go out of fashion, but there was considerable decrease after the rule was passed. In 1892, James Corbett set this rule straight by defeating the bare-fisted boxer John Sullivan with the new established rules.
Another radical change in the sport can be traced to Douglass. It was John Douglass who gave birth to the modern day boxing rules way back in 1865. Famous as the ‘Patron Saint’, Douglass has contributed to systematic game of boxing. He made 12 prominent rules, the most significant ones being three-minute rounds and approved standards for boxing gloves.
There was no looking back for the sport during early 1900s. Boxing was on list in the St. Louis games in 1904. Throughout the 20th century, the world witnessed gifted fighters who fought for titles and bestowed the game with world known recognition and popularity. Boxing was heading straight into the 21st century with grace and aplomb.
In 1902, a London dentist by the name Jack Marles invented the first mouth guard for boxers. The mouth guards were basically designed for training sessions. In 1913, Welterweight fighter Ted “Kid” Lewis became the first boxer to use a protective mouthpiece in the prize ring. The mouthpiece soon became popular and gained acclaim in the sport of boxing.
The establishment of National Boxing Association (NBA) in 1927 ensured a fair governing body that looked into the game and its success. The main aim of the NBA was to arrange championships between the best talents and look after boxing ethics and popularity of the game. We have three world-acclaimed boxing organizations today—the WBC, IBF and the WBA. The International Amateur Boxing Association was formed in 1946 and it is the first international body for amateur boxing.
Some other glorious names in the history of boxing include Gene Tunney, Corbett and Sullivan for heavy weight category, as also lightweight champions Barney Ross and Henry Armstrong. The boxing history offers insight into many stalwart moments of the game.