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.