Whether you’re a boxer or you just appreciate the sport, have you ever stopped to wonder where boxing got its start? Like every sport, boxing has to have originated from somewhere, but at the same time, it always seems like it’s just been there.
People who don’t like boxing (or don’t understand it) often see it as a sport for uncivilized people who can’t “settle the score” with a face-to-face conversation. In movies and television, we always see boxing as the sport of “rough and tumble” guys who can’t catch a break, have minimal education, and need a way to channel their anger.
While there are plenty of boxers who probably fit that description, there are a lot of men and women who take up boxing for the challenge, the fun, the fitness, and the discipline.
The Birth Of Boxing
We’ve all heard at least one person make a statement about boxing and use words like primitive or barbaric. If you think about the sport, it is, in fact, primitive. Aside from the gloves and headgear (which are essential to protecting your body), there is no equipment that’s actually required to box; few sports require so little gear.
While people have spent decades learning how to box, it’s almost certain that boxing’s origins are as early as human civilization. Remember that unbridled anger we mentioned earlier? There’s a good chance that it went hand-in-hand with boxing during the beginning of time. Nothing like a fist to the face to settle an argument over another person, bigger piece of meat, or plot of land.
“Prizefights,” in Egypt and Mesopotamia, are some of the earliest pieces of evidence that boxing existed in the ancient times. It also became part of Olympics and gladiator games, but unlike today where there are weight classes and basic rules, boxing was kind of a free for all.
If you got paired up to box a guy that was twice your size, there’s a good chance that the results would be fatal (and that was often the outcome of a boxing match in ancient times).
The Evolution Of Rules and Boxing Schools
Boxing remained a “down and dirty” sport for commoners until the 18th-century when Europeans rediscovered the primitive sports and decided to set some rules to make it a fairer fight. John Broughton, who was a reigning boxing champ for nearly 20 years in the mid-1700’s decided that boxing was the key to preserving British identity and “manliness.” He also was one of the first to open boxing schools.
It wasn’t until about a century later that boxing slowing moved its way into America and in the early 1900’s it was legal in some places and banned in others. Like many other activities of the day that were illegal, there were ways to box or watch a match without anyone finding out (hence the birth of the boxing clubs).
The Birth Of Television and Boxing Today
While boxing continued to be loved in some circles and loathed in others, the birth of television had a huge impact on the popularity (and “normalization” of boxing). American families sat down in front of their television and tuned in to watch the big fights. Boxing was slowly being accepted as an All-American sport.
Although people still tune in to watch a televised fight, more people are headed back to the boxing club to learn how to fight and to watch a match. Whether doing it for fitness or for blowing off some steam, boxing remains a popular sport for men and women of all walks of life.