A painting of Minoan youths boxing, from an Akrotiri fresco circa BCE 1650, the earliest documented use of boxing gloves.
The earliest known depiction of boxing comes from a Sumerian relief in Iraq from the 3rd millennium BCE. Later depictions from the 2nd millennium BC are found in reliefs from the Mesopotamian nations of Assyria and Babylonia, and in Hittite art from Asia Minor. The earliest evidence for fist fighting with any kind of gloves can be found on Minoan Crete (c.1650–1400 BCE), and on Sardinia, if we consider the boxing statues of Prama mountains (c. 2000–1000 BC).
In Ancient Greece boxing was a well developed sport and enjoyed consistent popularity. In Olympic terms, it was first introduced in the 23rd Olympiad, 688 BC. The boxers would wind leather thongs around their hands in order to protect them. There were no rounds and boxers fought until one of them acknowledged defeat or could not continue. Weight categories were not used, which meant heavyweights had a tendency to dominate. The style of boxing practiced typically featured an advanced left leg stance, with the left arm semi-extended as a guard, in addition to being used for striking, and with the right arm drawn back ready to strike. It was the head of the opponent which was primarily targeted, and there is little evidence to suggest that targeting the body was common.
Boxing was a popular spectator sport in Ancient Rome. In order for the fighters to protect themselves against their opponents they wrapped leatherthongs around their fists. Eventually harder leather was used and the thong soon became a weapon. The Romans even introduced metal studs to the thongs to make the cestus which then led to a more sinister weapon called the myrmex (‘limb piercer’). Fighting events were held at Roman Amphitheatres. The Roman form of boxing was often a fight until death to please the spectators who gathered at such events. However, especially in later times, purchased slaves and trained combat performers were valuable commodities, and their lives were not given up without due consideration. Often slaves were used against one another in a circle marked on the floor. This is where the term ring came from. In AD 393, during the Roman gladiator period, boxing was abolished due to excessive brutality. It was not until the late 16th century that boxing re-surfaced in London
The rules of boxing vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and on whether it is an amateur or professional bout. A violation of the following rules is considered a foul, and can result in a warning, point deduction, or disqualification by the referee:
You cannot hit below the belt, hold, trip, kick, headbutt, wrestle, bite, spit on, or push your opponent.
You cannot hit with your head, shoulder, forearm, or elbow.
You cannot hit with an open glove, the inside of the glove, the wrist, the backhand, or the side of the hand.
You cannot punch your opponent’s back, or the back of his head or neck (rabbit punch), or on the kidneys (kidney punch).
You cannot throw a punch while holding on to the ropes to gain leverage.
You can’t hold your opponent and hit him at the same time, or duck so low that your head is below your opponent’s belt line.
When the referee breaks you from a clinch, you have to take a full step back; you cannot immediately hit your opponent–that’s called “hitting on the break” and is illegal.
You cannot spit out your mouthpiece on purpose to get a rest.
If you score a knockdown of your opponent, you must go to the farthest neutral corner while the referee makes the count.
If you “floor” your opponent, you cannot hit him when he’s on the canvas.
A floored boxer has up to ten seconds to get back up on his feet before losing the bout by knockout.
A boxer who is knocked down cannot be saved by the bell in any round, depending upon the local jurisdiction’s rules.
A boxer who is hit with an accidental low blow has up to five minutes to recover. If s/he cannot continue after five minutes, s/he is considered knocked out.
If the foul results in an injury that causes the fight to end immediately, the boxer who committed the foul is disqualified.
If the foul causes an injury but the bout continues, the referee orders the judges to deduct two points from the boxer who caused the injury.
If an unintentional foul causes the bout to be stopped immediately, the bout is ruled a “no contest” if four rounds have not been fully completed. (If the bout was scheduled for four rounds, then three rounds must have been completed.) If four rounds have been completed, the judges’ scorecards are tallied and the fighter who is ahead on points is awarded a technical decision. If the scores are even, it will be called a “technical draw.”
If a boxer is knocked out of the ring, he gets a count of 20 to get back in and on his feet. He cannot be assisted.
In some jurisdictions the standing eight-count or the three knockdown rule also may be in effect.
In other jurisdictions, only the referee can stop the bout.
BOXING IS A SPORT WITH AN ANCIENT HISTORY. IT WAS INTRODUCED TO THE ANCIENT OLYMPIC GAMES IN THE 7TH CENTURY BC.
IN THE BEGINNING
The earliest evidence of boxing dates back to Egypt around 3000 BC. The sport was introduced to the ancient Olympic Games by the Greeks in the late 7th century BC, when soft leather thongs were used to bind boxers’ hands and forearms for protection.
Later, in Rome, leather thongs were exchanged for the cestus – a glove studded with metal. Unfortunately this did not help the gladiators involved, as boxing matches of the era usually ended with the death of one or other contestant.