Boxing is one of the oldest known sports. Records have been
found that indicate the ancient Sumerians practiced the
sport at least 5,000 years ago. From there the sport spread
throughout the ancient world. It became a particularly
brutal spectacle in Greece. The strongest youths of ancient
Athens competed in boxing contests. Two boxers were seated
face to face with their noses touching. At a signal, they
started hitting each other with their bare fists. This
would seem bloody enough, but Greek audiences soon grew
tired of it. To provide more excitement the fighters were
ordered to wear leather thongs that had metal studs, and
later spikes attached to them.
Roman gladiators wore a smooth, hard leather glove called a
cestus on each hand. The Romans also allowed the fighters
to stand and move within a small area. The brutality of
boxing forced the Romans to ban the sport.
Boxing was revived in England in 1700 by James Figg who
originated bare-knuckle fighting. In addition to becoming a
successful boxer, Figg was the leading teacher of the sport
in his day and opened a boxing school in London in 1719.
Figg believed that men should fight until one of the had
obviously won. Figg's method did not provide for rest
periods, or for a specified time.
In 1743, Jack Broughton drew up a set of rules for boxing
which became standard in 1838. These rules were designed to
lessen the brutality of prize fighting in England. Until
the late 1800's, boxers fought with bare knuckles. In 1867,
a British sportsman, the Marquis of Queensberry, sponsored
the establishment of a new set of boxing rules which
required boxers to wear gloves, 3 minute rounds, 1 minute
rest period, and a 10 second count for knockout. These
rules still govern amateur and professional boxing.
Boxing in the United States met widespread opposition
during its early days. It was illegal in most areas and the
police often broke up prize fights. The Golden Age of
Boxing came in the 1920's when it was promoted by George L.
Rickard. In this championship, Jack Dempsey defeated George
Carpentier in Jersey City, New Jersey.
Boxing is the sport of fighting skillfully with the fists.
A good boxer has courage, strength, and quickness of eye,
brain, and foot. An athlete must spend long hours in
training to learn boxing skills.
The object of boxing is to deliver blows and, at the same
time, keep from being hit. Every experienced boxer develops
his own style. He learns that certain positions allow him
to use his strength and skill to the best advantage. But
the beginner should stay with the basic accepted principles
until he has mastered the fundamentals of the sport.
Boxers fight as either amateurs or professionals. Amateur
fighters compete in tournaments sponsored by schools and
other organizations. Amateurs receive no pay. Professional
boxers, or prize fighters, earn their living by boxing.
A boxer's gloves are his most important equipment. These
padded leather mitts are designed to soften the blows
delivered in boxing, and to protect the boxer's hands.
Professional fighters usually wear globes that weigh 6 to 8
ounces. Gloves worn by amateurs vary from 8 to 12 ounces.
The ring is the square area in which a boxing match takes
place. Most rings measure from 18 to 24 feet on each side.
The size of the ring depends on the size of padded and
covered with canvas. Three 1 inch ropes supported by posts
at each corner, surround the ring and form its boundaries.
The round is one of the periods during which the boxers
actually fight. Each round in a professional bout lasts
three minutes. The boxers take a one minute rest between
rounds. Professional fights are usually scheduled for
between 4 and 15 rounds.
Most boxing matches have a referee and two judges who score
the fight. The referee works in the ring, and makes sure
that the fighters follow the rules. The judges sit at the
edge of the ring. Professional fights also have a
timekeeper. A bout may be won in one of three ways: by a
knockout, a technical knockout, or a decision.
A knockout occurs when a boxer is knocked to the floor of
the ring and does not regain his feet within 10 seconds. A
Technical Knockout occurs if the referee stops the fight
when he decides one fighter should not continue because of
his physical condition. A Decision is awarded when a fight
lasts the scheduled number of rounds. The winner is
determined by either the point system or the round system.
The judges and referee each keep a record of the number of
rounds they feel each boxer has won.