The Ancient Art of Punching People for Fun!
Boxing, and fist-fighting in general, is one of the most ancient sports known to man, dating back to at least 3,000 B.C.! Although the sport we know today is somewhat different to the ancient varieties of fist-fighting, the rich history should make boxing a wonderful choice for sport on TV today!
- 25 May
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Bellator (from 03:30 also on Sky Sports Main Event)
How People Came to Punch People for Sport
The earliest evidence of fist-fighting competitions comes to us from Sumerian art from 3,000 B.C. Several other artworks, both pictorial and literary, that make reference to fist-fighting show us that this practice was far from dying out and must have enjoyed immense popularity.
It was only a matter of time until boxing would become an established sport: in fact, boxing was made into an Olympic sport in 688 B.C. It is from there that we can find the earliest rules for boxing; however, there were neither weight categories nor rounds, making the sport quite different to modern boxing!
Boxing died out for some time after the fall of the Roman Empire, and it wasn't until the 17th century that the sport would be revived in England. This was a form of bare-knuckle boxing, sometimes called prizefighting, which had no rules, thus making it very disorderly!
A few attempts had been made to furnish the sport with a system of rules, but it wasn't until 1867 that the Marquess of Queensberry Rules, the rules that are used for modern boxing, were adopted. Nowadays, boxing is extremely popular, making it excellent to watch as a live sport on TV!
Boxing currently proceeds in several 3-minute rounds, somewhere around 9 to 12 rounds in total. Boxers are allowed a break of 1 minute between rounds. If the match uses up the number of rounds, it's said to have 'gone the distance', and judges decide the winner.
Otherwise, matches may end 'inside the distance', that is, before the rounds finish, because one of the boxers has suffered a knockout (KO). A knockout is when a boxer touches the floor of the ring, with anything other than his feet, as a result of a punch. The referee then begins counting until the boxer stands up.
If the boxer doesn't stand up before the referee counts to ten, then the boxer is considered knocked out. A boxer may also suffer what is called as a technical knockout (TKO) which is when they are unable to fight due to injuries or some other condition preventing them from defending themselves.
There are numerous styles that boxers can choose to adhere to, with each style being effective against another style but ineffective against the other, somewhat like rock-paper-scissors. However, there are 3 main styles: out-fighter or boxer, brawler or slugger, and in-fighter or swarmer.
Boxers tend to keep away from their opponent by maintaining distance through quick, long-range punches. Sluggers generally adopt stable positions and attempt to land powerful hits. Swarmers enjoy coming close to deliver a flurry of blows whilst being hard to hit.
There are also some mixed styles, like boxer-punchers and counter punchers. Despite these styles, however, the best boxers tend to be very versatile, choosing a different style depending on their match-up, that is, according to the opponent's style.
The Boxers that Beat them All
How can any article on boxing be complete without the mention of the legendary Muhammad Ali? Born as Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr., up until changing his name in 1961, Ali is one of the most prominent and highly esteemed boxers to ever step in the ring.
Ali was the first boxer to win the heavyweight champion title 3 times. Another famous name which has to inevitably be mentioned is that of Mike Tyson, the hard-hitting, unstoppable force that became the youngest world heavyweight champion ever in 1986.
The final name that we'll mention is another one of the greatest to ever grace the ring, and that is Sugar Ray Robinson. Robinson went professional in 1940 at the young age of 19, won the welterweight in 1946, which he held until 1951, and was unbeaten for 91 fights from 1943 till 1951.
Best TV moments
How does one choose from so many exciting moments? However, difficult decisions must be made, so here are our choices: Tyson vs. Michael Spinks in 1988. The Tyson of this era was a force to be reckoned with, so much so that Spinks, himself a formidable boxer, lasted only 91 seconds against him!
Another match that we would definitely have to mention is the fight between Ali and George Foreman (yes, like the grill!) in 1974. In the match, which is known as The Rumble in the Jungle, Ali managed to win against the then-unbeaten Foreman by knockout, making it a legendary match!
Roll with the Punches
It's impossible to capture the exhilaration of boxing in words: with styles of fighting emphasising either beautiful finesse, brute force, or sheer stamina, there's surely something for everyone! Such an undying sport like boxing will surely prove to be one of the most exciting sport on TV today!