Boxing, earlier known as fist fighting has been about since as early as 3000BC, but formal boxing was first documented in the late 1700’s. The ancient Greeks believed that pugilism or fist fighting was practiced by the Gods of Greece played. The sport was incorporated into the Olympic Games in 688BC.
Back in 688BC however, there was one serious flaw. Instead of present-day padded gloves, leather bound hand coverings, sometimes filled with metal, were used. This resulted in bloody duels some even leading to the death of one of the participants.
After the fall of Rome on September 4th, 476AD, when the last Ruler of the Western Roman Empire was removed from power, fist fighting fell out of popular favor.
It wasn’t until the 18th century it managed to entice fans and sportsmen back to the game. The century molded boxing into a working man’s game, in the background of the Industrial Revolution. The bouts and fights until 19th century were crude and not well structured, coming across more like violent street fights rather than the well-executed jabs that have us hooked to the sport.
The game was ultimately recognized as bare-knuckle boxing and the first victor was James Figg in the year 1719. At this stage, however, there were no set boxing regulations, so competitors could punch their opponents below the waist, which resulted in deaths sometimes.
In the year 1743, Recognizing the need for strict rules, Jack Broughton, a heavy weight champion decided to set seven rules for boxing. These rules were ultimately adapted and became part of the London Prize Rules and the Marquess of Queensbury’s Rules which are today’s set standards. These regulations helped protect all contenders by enforcing the 30 second rule , according to which if a man was down for 30 seconds or more the fight was ended, so ultimately a downed man would not have to suffer so much agony. In addition, Jack Broughton also invented the nascent form of padded gloves, then called mufflers. These considerably reduced the amount of blood and damage, boxers received from a jab.
If we talk about boxing in modern times, one of the most influential and admired boxers of all time, perhaps even the best of all time, is Muhammad Ali. He alone enjoys the distinction of winning the World Heavyweight Title in boxing three times.
In one of his famous fights in 1974, the underdog Ali created history by defeating defending champion George Foreman. It was said that he literally “danced” his way to triumph. Following this massive win Ali maintained his form. Subsequently, he went into the Thrilla In Manila bout against Joe Frazier and defeated him in a memorable boxing match that Ali later described as the closest he has felt to death.
Muhammad Ali left a deep impact on the boxing world and his name is deservedly synonymous with the golden age of boxing.