Boxing was first recorded in circa 3000 BC. The Greeks included boxing in their various games, usually to commemorate their god, Zeus. At first, their hands were bound with leather strips for protection. A fresco from the Minoan age shows the first use of leather padded gloves which protected the combatants from serious injury.
Boxing was included in the Olympic games by the Greeks in 688 BC, and over the centuries boxing evolved – the Romans, included boxing in their gladiator arenas where combatants used studded leather gloves which maimed or even killed the opponents.
The sport evolved over the centuries until, in the 1900s, rules were formalised by the introduction of the Marquis of Queensberry Rules. Before this, boxers used bare fists and fights went on for hours – on occasion up to 50 rounds until one participant could not continue. There were no weight categories, so the smaller guys didn’t have much chance!
Boxing was also popular in India where “dirty” fighting was allowed – kicking, head-butting, finger stabbing and knee butting. With the wearing of pistols and swords, boxing became less popular but continued with bar brawls and street fighting. Boxing did stay in various parts of Europe, especially in Italy, and interest increased in England in the 16th century, and fighters used bare knuckles and used a very upright stance which favoured direct punches to the head.
Jack Broughton introduced the first rules in 1743, which meant that if a man went down to a count of 30 seconds, the fight was over. Hitting below the belt was disallowed. These rules, although necessary, brought the sport out of the street to a regulated, fair fight. Padding was allowed on the fists which lessened the damage done by the fists and to the fists. The 30-second rule proved to be open to abuse, as a tired fighter could go down for a rest to recoup his strength and then carry on with the fight.
Marques of Queensberry Rules
The sport evolved over the centuries until, in the 1900s, rules were formalised by the introduction of the Marquis of Queensberry Rules. John Chambers formulated the laws and endorsed by the marquess. These rules were accepted by both the Amateur and the Professional Unions. The rules encouraged fair play and honesty. In 1875 the rules were approved in the USA and Canada. Before this, boxers used bare fists and fights went on for hours – on occasion up to 50 rounds until one participant could not continue. There were no weight categories, so the smaller guys didn’t have much chance!
The ring is 24-foot square and fenced by ropes. A round is of three minutes with a one-minute break between bouts. If a contestant is knocked down, he must get up unassisted within 10 seconds. If he fails to raise the match is over, and the opposing boxer is declared a winner. If the round goes on to complete the 12 rounds without a knockout, then the winner is judged by points scored by three ringside judges.