Boxing, nicknamed the "sweet science" and also called pugilism or prizefighting, is a sport where two participants of similar weight attack each other with their fists in a series of two to three-minute intervals called "rounds". more...
In both Amateur and Professional divisions, the combatants (called boxers or fighters) avoid their opponent's punches whilst trying to land punches of their own. Points are awarded for clean, solid blows to the legal area on the front of the opponent's body above the waistline, with hits to the head and torso especially valuable. The fighter with the most points after the scheduled number of rounds is declared the winner. Victory may also be achieved if the opponent is knocked down and unable get up before the referee counts to ten (a Knockout, or KO) or if the opponent is deemed too injured to continue (a Technical Knockout, or TKO).
Earliest evidence suggests that boxing was prevalent in North Africa during 4000 BC and the Mediterranean in 1500 BC.
A Greek ruler named Thesus, who ruled around 900 B.C., was entertained by men who would seat in front of each other and beat another with their fists until one of them was killed. In time, the fighters fought on their feet and wore gloves (not padded) and wrappings on their arms below the elbows, but were otherwise naked when competing. First accepted as an Olympic sport (the ancient Greeks called it Pygmachia) in 688 BC, participants in the ancient games trained on punching bags (called a korykos). Keeping their fingers free, fighters then wore leather straps (called himantes) on their hands, wrists, and sometimes lower arms, to protect them from injury.
In Rome, fighters were usually criminals and slaves. They hoped to become champions and gain their freedom. However, free men also fought. Eventually, fist fighting became so popular that even aristocrats started fighting, but that was banned by the ruler Augustus. In 500 A.D., the sport was banned by Theodoric the Great.
London Prize Ring rules (1839)
Records of boxing activity disappeared after the fall of the Roman Empire. The sport would later resurface in English during the early 18th century in the form of bare-knuckle prizefighting. The first documented account of a bare-knuckle fight in England appeared in 1681 in the "London Protestant Mercury," and the first English bare-knuckle champion was James Figg in 1719. This is also the time when the word "boxing" first came to be used.
Early bare-knuckle fighting was crude with no written rules. There were no weight divisions, round limits and no referee. Modern rules banning gouging, grappling, biting, headbutting, fish-hooking and blows below the belt were absent.
The first boxing rules were introduced by heavyweight champion Jack Broughton in 1743 to protect fighters in the ring where deaths sometimes occurred. Under these rules, if a man went down and could not continue after a count of 30 seconds, the fight was over. Hitting a downed fighter and grasping below the waist were prohibited. Broughton also invented "mufflers" (padded gloves), which were used in training and exhibitions.
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