The origins of boxing can be traced back to when a person first lifted a fist against another
in play. Different eras of the sport have been distinguished by the use or nonuse of fist
The ancient Greeks believed fist fighting was one of the games played by the gods on
Olympus; thus it became part of the Olympic Games in about 688 BC. Homer has a reference to
boxing in the Iliad.
During Roman times the sport began to thrive on a wide scale. Boxers fought
with leather bands around their fists for protection and sometimes wore metal-filled, leather
hand coverings called cesti, resulting in bloody, often duel-to-death, battles. Boxing diminished
after the fall of Rome. It was revived in the 18th century in England and became especially
popular during the championship reign of James Figg, who held the heavyweight title from 1719
through 1730. Boxing became a workingman's sport during the Industrial Revolution as prizefights
attracted participants and spectators from the working class. Organization was minimal at first,
and the bouts of those eras resembled street fights more than modern boxing.
The second heavyweight champion, Jack Broughton of England, drew his own set of rules for his
own fights, and these were recognized in 1743. They outlawed some of the gorier aspects that the
sport had acquired, such as hitting below the belt line. Instead of a ring of spectators--hence,
the name ring--Broughton insisted upon a squared-off area. His rules governed what is known
as the "bareknuckle era."
In 1866 the Marquess of Queensberry gave his support to a new set of rules, which were named
in his honor. These rules limited the number of 3-minute rounds, eliminated gouging and
wrestling, and made the use of gloves mandatory. Bareknuckle bouts did not cease immediately
but did begin to decline. A new era dawned in 1892, when James J. Corbett defeated the last of
the great bare-fisted fighters, John L. Sullivan, under the new rules.
With the growing popularity of boxing, especially in the United States, weight classes other
than the unlimited heavyweights emerged. These classes became popular as world championships
were held at the new weights. Currently, there are eight major professional divisions: flyweight
(up to 112 lb/50.8 kg); bantamweight (118 lb/53.5 kg); featherweight (126 lb/57.2 kg); lightweight
(135 lb/61.2 kg); welterweight (147 lb/66.7 kg); middleweight (160 lb/72.6 kg); light heavyweight
(175 lb/79.4 kg); and heavyweight (unlimited).
In recent years there has been some recognition
of junior weights, or between-weights, such as junior lightweight and cruiserweight.
Because of its violent nature and its identification with betting, boxing has had a controversial
history. There have been periodic efforts to outlaw the sport. The November 1982 death of South
Korean boxer Duk Koo Kim, for example, prompted two editorials in the Journal of the American
Medical Association (Jan. 14, 1983) calling for a ban on all boxing.
The results of a study
by an AMA-sponsored scientific council appeared in that same issue, and the council, expressing
the official AMA position, called not for a ban but for improved controls and medical facilities
at ringside, centralized record keeping, and standardization of safety regulations.
periodic efforts, boxers remain internationally famous, particularly heavyweight champions,
most of whom, in this century, have come from the United States. Among the best heavyweights
have been Muhammad Ali, Jack Dempsey, Jack Johnson, Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano and John L.
Sullivan. Outstanding champions in the lighter weights have included Sugar Ray Robinson, Roberto
Duran, Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns.
Fighters of the modern era continue to benefit greatly, both popularity and financially,
from the promotion of televised fights, and can enjoy a level of celebrity status akin to that
associated with movie & music stars. Former Undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the world, Mike Tyson, is the highest paid sports star of all time, earning a reputed half a billion dollors thus far! Top flight modern boxers are considered amongst the fittest athletes in the world.
The Scimitar Martial Arts Association syllabus borrows a great deal of principles from western boxing, most of which centre around the physical conditioning of the fighter. We use boxing training principles, which include cardio-vascular/muscle conditioning and full-contact sparring, in our day to day training regimes, and use the skill of boxing to educate our hands, providing us with fast, powerful, economic punches.