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The roots of Boxing

7342 Views 15 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Grace
I want to know how many of us know when the first recorded boxing matches were and anything related to them? I was surprised when I first found out years ago.
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I'm sure there is an official recorded beginning to boxing but I'd say that boxing has existed ever since the first Neanderthal attempted to impress the opposite sex. I think that its sense of timelessness is a big plus for boxing. It feels like its been around forever and that it will be around forever.
the roots of boxing

Boxing was known to the ancient Greeks and was part of their olympics, which began in 776 B.C. Footraces were in the early games, boxing and wrestling and the almost no-holds-barred pancration were added later. These sports kept boys and men of the Greek city states trained for war. Contrary to what we have heard, wars among the Greeks did not stop during their games.

The type of boxing done by the Greeks was almost wholly confined to head
blows. There were no rounds and the combatants fought until one could no longer go on or was dead. A bout could last for hours in the sunlight. At least at first, the fights were barefisted. Later, the Romans wound leather straps around the fists with metal studs or spikes. These coverings were called cestuses.

My username, pollux, is the name of a character from the Greek myth of Jason and the Argonauts, who went searching for the golden fleece. They came to the land ruled by King Amycus, whose father was Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea. Amycus challenged each man who was a newcomer to a boxing match. If the ruler won, his opponent would be his slave. The king never lost a fight until Pollux defeated him. As Amycus lay on the ground, bloody and battered, Pollux made him swear to renounce slavery.

Boxing was revived in Britain in the late seventeenth century. It became popular among the upper class gentlemen, many of whom sponsored prizefighters. Some even became fighters themselves.
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PULLOX YOU GET THE GOLD STAR. Boxing was first offically recorded in the greeks olympic games. The rules where a little diffrent but it was boxing all the same. The rules or lack of them made it a more deadly sport with many recorded deaths.
more about the roots of boxing

Triple A,
Thanks for the compliment about my post. However, my further research has revealed that the Greeks wore fist coverings that were strips of leather over the knuckles. But the cestus was a Roman invention. In an ancient Greek match, a finger held up was a sign that the fighter was giving up. But because quitting in athletics resulted in so much shame, that probably didn't happen often. Clinching was "strictly forbidden" I have read.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica Macropedia, there was a recorded boxing match in London in 1681. Who was in it, I don't know. Prizefights became popular within seventeen years. In 1719, James Figg became the first barefisted fighting champion in Britain. Jack Broughton was his pupil and he wrote the first set of rules for boxing in 1743. In 1867, John Graham Chambers wrote the rules to which John Sholto Douglas, the Marquis of Queensberry gave his name in order to make the sport more acceptable to the upper class spectators. Boxing gloves were allowed
under these regulations. The last bare-knuckled professional match was between John L. Sullivan and Jake Kilrain in Mississippi in 1889.
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CORRECTION ABOUT BROUGHTON + more boxing history

I was wrong about Jack Broughton reviving boxing in Britain in the late seventeenth century. He was born in either 1704 or 1705, according to the encyclopedias. He was a boxing pupil of James Figg. Figg became the first barefisted fighting champion of Britain in 1719, when he was about twenty-three. He held the title until his death in 1734. He weighed 185 pounds, which today would make him a cruiserweight, although there were no weight divisions at that time. In Figg's school for self-defense he also taught wrestling, which was allowed in boxing matches then. Maybe if we watched a fight in the late seventeenth or early eighteenth century, it would have resembled a UFC bout.

Broughton would also be the British champion in the early 1700s. As I wrote, he was the author of the first set of rules for boxing in 1743. They still permitted wrestling, but no holds beneath the waist. Hairpulling and striking a man while he was down were also banned. Mufflers, or the first boxing gloves, were introduced. These rules were further refined by the London Prize Ring Rules in 1838, that were revised in 1853. The revision had the first measurements for a boxing ring. They also forbade biting, gouging, headbutting and low blows. But a round only ended when a boxer was knocked down. He could be helped to his corner by his attendants and had thirty seconds to recuperate and eight seconds to get to scratch, which was a line or mark in the center of the ring.

Fourteen years later these regulations were replaced by the Queensberry Rules. Under these regulations, a downed fighter had to get up unaided.
Also, while the Queensberry rules came into effect in the late 1800s weight classes for boxers began.

Because their requirement for boxing gloves was considered cowardly by some, the rules were not accepted everywhere for awhile. The Encyclopedia Britannica Macropedia article on boxing had an interesting point about gloves. When the Broughton Rules introduced mufflers, or the forerunner of boxing gloves, it was to make the sport less injurious. But when fighters fought barefisted, they would tend to often use bodyblows which would be less damaging to their hands than hitting heads. When gloves
encouraged fighters to hit to the head because their hands would be protected, there was more of a potential for brain damage. There is a debate
about whether or not professional fighters should wear headgear, as do the
amateurs. But when a fighter gets a blow to the head, would the combination
of the glove and the headgear knocking against the skull be an improvement?

As for guarding a fighter's genitals, the invention of the athletic supporter in
1874 was a major advance. Perhaps boxers wore jockstraps with some added underwear. That changed after the heavyweight title fight between Jack Sharkey and Max Schmeling in June 1930. Sharkey was ahead on points when
he accidentally landed a punch on Schmeling's crotch. After falling to the canvas and writhing in agony, Schmeling was awarded the decision. It was the first time a fight was won on a foul.

It was in that year, I read in a newspaper article, that an enterprising man decided to prevent another such mishap. His name has been forgotten by me, but the article told me this is what he did. He designed a leather groin protector or protective cup. To test it, he went into barrooms with a baseball
bat. There he offered to pay any man there ten dollars if he would hit him with the bat as hard as he could while he wore the protector he had designed. That was the beginning of the protective cup, or as the British call it, the foul protector.
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correction about ancient Greek Olympics

The first Greek Olympics were in 776 B.C., not when I first wrote that they were. I have edited the previous message to show the correction. The games at Olympia were among four festivals held to honor the gods.
When pollux does homework, pollux really does homework. I am impressed.
more about fighting in ancient Greek Olympics

Grace and Triple A,
Thank you for your responses to my last posting about the ancient Greek Olympics.

The term "Olympics" is derived from the most well-known of the ancient Greek festivals. It was held at Olympus, where the Greeks believed that Zeus, the king of the gods, lived. The games were held every four years, from August 6 through September 19. They were considered so important that the time between them was called an Olympiad. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica Macropedia, by the time of the first recorded games in 776 B.C., the event may have been five hundred years old. Wrestling began in the games in 708 B.C. There were two types of wrestling.
From a standup position, the wrestlers grappled until one threw the other to the ground a certain number of times. There was also ground wrestling. Boxing was introduced in the twenty-third Olympics in 688 B.C. The pancration was a combination of wrestling and boxing and banned only biting and eye gouging. It started at the festival in 648 B.C.

Training and competition for most of the events, including boxing, wrestling and the pancration, was done naked. The term gymnasium derives from "gymnos", the Greek word for nude.
Women were excluded from participating in the games and were usually not allowed to watch them. According to legend, a female could be thrown off a cliff if she were caught at the Olympic Games.

The modern Olympic Games began in 1896 and were held that year in Athens. The Frenchman, Baron Pierre deCoubertin(1863-1937), led the movement to revive the competition.
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more about boxing and the Olympics

Women were supposedly excluded from participating in the games as well as watching them. According to legend, a female could be thrown off a cliff if she were caught at the Olympic Games.

The modern Olympic Games began in 1896 and were held that year in Athens. The Frenchman, Baron Pierre deCoubertin(1863-1937), led the movement to revive the competition.[/QUOTE]

Concerning women and the ancient Greek Olympics, there were exceptions to the all-male rule. Priestesses were allowed there who conducted ceremonies in honor of Zeus' sister, Demeter, the goddess of agriculture. Also, a television special that was broadcast in 2004, at the time of the Athens Olympics, told of an interesting practice. According to it, men would sometimes bring their daughters to the games, or maybe at least some of the events, to find husbands for them from among the athletes.

Boxing was added to the modern games at St.Louis in 1904, the same year as wrestling.
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ancient Greek Olympics

At the Greek Olympics in the centuries B.C., boys also participated in boxing and wrestling matches.

Also, the athletes originally walked into the arena during the procession at the beginning of the games partly covered. But when a woman was discovered having taken part in this ceremony the rule was changed so that the contestants had to be naked then too. The woman however, was not put to death.
Goodness knows that woman are thankful we can watch the Olympics with people who have clothes on. Over the cliff is in the past now. Women watched the boxing but did they participate in them?
women, ancient Greece, and boxing

Grace said:
Goodness knows that woman are thankful we can watch the Olympics with people who have clothes on. Over the cliff is in the past now. Women watched the boxing but did they participate in them?
Females were never allowed to take part in the ancient Greek Olympics. This rule applied to much of Greek life. Certainly, it was true of the city state of Athens. There, in the world's first pure democracy, women were excluded from citizenship. Strangely, the city of Athens was named for the goddess Athena, who represented wisdom.

In Athens, women were confined to their homes most of the time. They were only sometimes allowed to be in the audiences of dramatic plays, never at comedies. When they did attend plays, women were seated in the back rows.

In Sparta, Athens' arch enemy, women also were not leaders. But in Spartan games, females could be athletes. They could compete with men and could do so bare breasted.

The spectators at the Greek Olympics were clothed. The athletes were naked. I doubt very much if women could watch boxing. When I saw the 2004 television special about the Greek Olympics, it was with surprise that I learned that men would sometimes be allowed to bring their daughters to the games to get husbands. The fathers probably needed special permission for this. But, if so, they must have felt the effort to get the approval was worth it since Olympic competitors would have been the best catches.

Boxing was a sport that was, at least most of the time, for male only viewers as late as the early twentieth century. George Bellows' painting from
1909, Stag at Sharkey's, reveals by the "stag" in it's title that the boxing match being seen was for men only. In Thomas Eakins' paintings, Taking the Count(1898) and Between Rounds(1899), only males are seen at the prizefights. In a photograph of the last bareknuckled professional fight, in 1889
between John L.Sullivan and Jake Kilrain in Mississippi, only men are seen in the crowd around the ring.

It was not until 1921 that tickets were sold for the first time to women for a heavyweight boxing title fight. That July, Jack Dempsey defended his championship against Georges Carpentier of France. Carpentier was a handsome blonde decorated veteran of World War I. Dempsey had not served in the conflict and had been accused of being a draft dodger. The fight promoters knew that Carpentier's matinee idol looks would appeal to women.
Carpentier was actually a light-heavyweight and didn't belong in the ring with Dempsey. But he must have been offered so much money that he wouldn't turn down the fight. Carpentier landed some good punches but in the fourth round was floored twice,
the second time being counted out. Dempsey was unmarked, Carpentier bleeding.

However, business-wise the event turned out very well. It was the first world championship fight to earn a million dollars and the first to be broadcast over radio.
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Being confined to a home is a modern women's problen as well today. We still have our limitations but thankfully there have been great strides made. Boxing match raking in 1 million dollars and on the radio too.
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