Boxing is as old as mankind itself: Man has an inborn right of self defense. The most natural method of self defense for any man is to use his hands and his fists in particular. Hence we can say that man used to make use of his fists for self defense right since the inception of mankind. Even though using fists was an act of self defense, it was included in the ancient Olympics Games as a medal sport. This game was known as â€œPugislismâ€ which literally means a â€œfist fightâ€. Hence we can safely conclude that the game â€œBoxingâ€ boasts of a history as old as mankind.
The Early Days of Boxing: The earliest known documented boxing duels date to as early a date as 1500 B.C. on the Crete Island. Modern researchers insist that this game existed even before 1500 B.C. in Africa. However in the year 686 B.C. it was included as a sport in the ancient Olympics. In the early times, the game was played in an open arena and the fights normally used to last until one of the fighters got injured. The fighters used to protect their wrists and forearms with leather strips.
Evolvement of Boxing into a Sport: Christianity did not recognise such fist fights and hence with the spread of Christianity, the game went into hibernation. However the first official bout was registered in England in 1681. Since 1698 regular boxing bouts were arranged at the Royal Theater in London. Gradually boxing gathered momentum and was granted professional status with money being an incentive. Boxing bouts used to be arranged in London without any weight classification. Hence there used to be only one winner who was accorded the title of â€œThe Championâ€. Even though the game was outlawed, the popularity of the game was not affected.
Framing of rules and regulations: In the earlier days there were no rules as such in particular. However as the game grew dangerous, the first set of documented rules were framed and were called the â€œQueensberry Code of Rulesâ€. Some of the rules are still being followed such as; Opponents had to wear padded gloves. Each round used to last for three minutes. No other part of the body could be used other than the hands. A boxer who has fallen to the floor should stand up on his feet within the count of 10 or else he would be deemed defeated. The amateur boxers used to wear protection whereas the professional boxers still do not do. Boxing was divided into eight weight categories initially which was extended to seventeen today with World Championships being held in all the seventeen categories.
Cases of apartheid and how it has been overcome: With more and more countries joining in, boxing started to look like an international sport. Countries like Germany, Scandinavia and the United States started producing champions in their own right. Americans and that too the black population in general started to shine in this game. To Jack Johnson goes the distinction of being the first black champion among heavy weight Racism used to raise its ugly head every now and then and thus the participation of black Americans was not quite up to the mark for a long time. However Joe Louis is the first real black champion in the year 1937 and he became an icon and inspired others to follow suit. Notable among his early followers were Sugar Ray Leonard, Joe Frazier and Muhammed Ali among others. The tradition of black fighters still continues today with champions such as Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis. However mention of history of the game without taking the name of its most successful and talismanic player of all time, Rocky Marciano would seem sacrilegious.
Women too have joined the fray: Boxing, though dangerous, is still a very popular sport all over the world with women too joining the fray. A separate World Championship for Women is also being held every year. The most notable women boxer has been Laila Ali, the daughter of the great Muhammed Ali.