It’s hard to explain the rush that comes along with watching two angry strangers step inside of a square ring and begin trading punches, each attempting to inflict pain and damage to the other in order to win glory, money and a highly coveted championship. Boxing is one of the most popular sports in existence. With matches being held in such exotic locations as Las Vegas, and with the widespread media attention it gets, it’s no wonder the public is so drawn to it.
Boxing is proof that humans’ lust for violence will never be quenched. To trace the history of boxing to its roots we need to go back to 4000 BC, to North Africa and to other documented occurrences of the sport in places such as the Mediterranean, around 1500 BC.
However, the most well documented evidence of boxing is found around 900 BC in Greece. It was around this time that a ruler known as Thesus found the struggle of two men beating each other for survival entertaining.
The main difference between early forms of boxing, and boxing as we know it today, is that boxing matches were once fought to the death. The equipment used was also different. Today, boxers are required to wear and use more safety equipment during fights, such as mouth guards and gloves with thick padding. Early boxers, however, wore nothing except padding on their arms to protect them as they fended off punches, and a pair of unpadded gloves to enable them to inflict more damage against their opponent.
The practice of boxers covering their fists gradually evolved, when in 668 BC, boxing became one of the first Olympic sports. For gloves, the competitors covered their hands with leather straps designed to protect them from injury and inflict more damage on their opponents.
In 1681, in London, the first bare-knuckled prize fight was fought. Though these types of fights were not fought until the death, they were known to last nearly a hundred rounds and still often resulted in death. This form of boxing continued for many years until 1743 when the first set of documented rules were introduced to help curb the amount of deaths that occurred. This marked the first time the knockout rule was used.
Upon its inception, the rule stated that if a man fell and didn’t get up after 30 seconds the boxing match was over. It was also around this time that boxing gloves with padding were required to be worn. From this point, boxing began to rise in popularity and become what it is today.
The starting point for most athletes who want to become professional boxers is to start out as an amateur. Amateur boxing is what we see at the Olympics every four years. In amateur boxing the focus is on landing punches in order to score points. The competitors are not as concerned with landing a knock-out as professional boxers are. Most professional boxers today got their start as amateur boxers, or as Olympic athletes. But with prize money many times in the millions of dollars and the endorsement deals exceeding even these great amounts, professional boxing is a very lucrative career that often draws amateurs and Olympic athletes.
Boxing today is essentially the same as it was when first created thousands of years ago. It is also proof that even in a civilized society in which we live today, a secret love of violence and bloodshed still needs to be satiated occasionally. What many other sports, such as baseball and basketball, can’t provide us, boxing does, which is why it has been around so long and will continue to be for many years more.