Muhammad Ali. Mike Tyson. Manny Pacquaio. Floyd Mayweather Jr. Rocky Balboa. These are some of the names that no doubt come to mind when you hear someone talk about boxing.
Initially referred to as ‘pugilism’ (or ‘fist fighting’, in layman’s terms), boxing is simply a two-person sport. The objective of the sport is to throw punches (normally while wearing gloves) at one another until one person is weakened and is knocked down.
There is evidence to show that boxing dates back all the way to 4000 BC in Egypt, where it first became popular. Due to the spread of Egyptian civilization, boxing became more and more widespread, and people from the Mediterranean region and the Middle East became aware of the sport. Back then, leather straps were used to bind boxers’ hands during a match.
The very first recorded boxing match, however, was in 1681 in Britain. The Duke of Albemarle used to conduct boxing games between his butcher and butler for his amusement.
It was not until 1743 when the very first set of boxing rules were created. Jack Boughton – also known as the ‘Father of Boxing’ – established the rules of boxing after he killed his opponent in a match in 1741.
In 1865, John Sholtho Douglass, the Eighth Marquess of Queensbury, further developed the rules into the ones that we use today. He was the one who required all boxers to wear gloves, and made sure a single round did not last more than three minutes.
Ever since then, boxing gained traction and was included in the Olympic Games for the very first time in 1904.
Boxing is more than just hitting your opponent repeatedly with your fists. Before you step onto the boxing ring, you need to make sure your boxing equipment is in check. Obviously, you need a pair of padded boxing gloves, a head guard to protect your head, and a mouthpiece to keep your teeth and gums safe.
Each session of boxing – or a ‘round’ of boxing – can last up to three minutes. The number of rounds per game depends on the game’s type of competition, and is usually determined at the start of the game. For example, there are only three rounds in an Olympic match. Professional competitions, on the other hand, can last up to twelve rounds.
A short break is allowed in between rounds. During this break, each boxer returns to his corner of the ring that was assigned to them, where he can get some water, advice from his coach, or whatever help he needs.
A boxer is declared the winner when he manages to ‘knock out’ his opponent, and said opponent is unable to get up until the referee has finished counting aloud to ten. However, if there are no ‘knock out’s, the judges will decide the winner based on how well each boxer has performed in each round. The scores achieved by each boxer are tallied, and the highest scorer comes out the winner.
In every sport, there are always a series of rules to be followed. Here are some of the rules of boxing:
- A boxer must always be standing on his feet to deliver a punch.
- Punches thrown by a boxer must always land above the waistline of his opponent.
- A boxer is allowed to only punch his opponent. No other method of hitting is allowed.
- Only the knuckle portion of the glove is permitted to make contact with the opponent.
- A boxer is disallowed from punching his opponent’s back, kidneys, or back of the head.
- If a boxer is hit with an accidental low-blow (a punch below the waist), he is given five minutes to recover. If unable to recover, he will be considered knocked-out.
- The boxer’s head must always remain above his opponent’s waistline.
- When a referee breaks up clinching boxers (where a boxer wraps his arms around his opponent’s to create a pause), both boxers must take a full step back before delivering a punch.
- When a boxer is knocked down, his opponent is not allowed to hit the downed boxer anymore. He must go to a neutral corner of the ring while the referee counts to ten. The referee’s ten-count gives the downed boxer an opportunity to get back up.
- After a knocked-down boxer gets back on his feet, the referee must determine if he is fit to continue. Otherwise, his opponent wins by way of ‘knock out’ (KO).
- A boxer that slips or falls is not considered a knock-down. However, his opponent is still not permitted to hit the boxer that’s on the floor.
- If a boxer commits an intentional foul and does not stop the fight, the referee has the right to take points away from the boxer.
- If a boxer is hit with an intentional foul and is unable to continue fighting, the boxer that has committed the foul will be disqualified.
- A boxer who has committed an unintentional foul will receive a warning from the referee. But if said boxer continues committing the foul, his points will be deducted.
- If the occurrence of an unintentional foul results in the immediate end of the fight, there can be a ‘no-contest’ ruling or a declared winner.
- A referee has the right to stop the fight at any time to protect a boxer from serious injury. The boxer will lose by ‘technical knockout’ (TKO).
Like Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), a boxer is classified according to his weight and will fight in his weight class. This is typically used in professional boxing.
(Note: The lower limit of a weight class is equal to the upper weight limit of the class above it.)
Muhammad Ali is a recognizable name in the world of boxing, and is commonly considered one of the greatest heavyweights of boxing. In his boxing career, he has won 56 times (37 KOs and 19 decisions), and lost only 5 times (4 decisions and 1 KO). He is not only an inspiration inside the ring, but outside of it, too; he fought for religious freedom, racial justice, and believed doing the right thing should always be superior to doing the convenient thing. He was given the title of ‘Sportsman of the Century’ by Sports Illustrated.
Another boxer worth mentioning is Mike Tyson. He was the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. When he was 20, he won the WBC, WBF, and IBA heavyweight titles, being the youngest boxer to have ever won those titles. He had been in the ring 58 times; won 50 times (44 of them by KO), lost 6 times, and had 2 no-contests.
Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is a five-division world champion. He has eleven world titles under his belt and has won the lineal championship in four different weight classes. He is undefeated as a professional and has won Ring Magazine’s Fighter of the Year award twice, the Best Fighter ESPY Award six times, and Boxing Writers Association of America’s Fighter of the Year award twice. He has fought 48 times (26 by KO) and has no losses.
Manny Pacquiao (fondly referred to as Pac-Man by his fans) is the first and only eight-division world champion. This Filipino fighter has attained ten world titles, and was the first to win the lineal championship in four different weight classes. So far, he has been in a total of 65 fights; won 57 of them (38 by KO), lost 6 times, and had 2 draws. The Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA), World Boxing Council (WBC), and World Boxing Organization (WBO) named him ‘Fighter of the Decade’ for the 2000s. In addition to that, he has also been named ‘Fighter of the Year’ by The Ring and BWAA, and has also won Best Fighter ESPY Award twice.
Boxing is considered one of the world’s oldest sports. Since the rules relatively easy to comprehend, the sport can be enjoyed by almost anyone from any age group. Seeing two boxers go at it with one another in the ring not only gives us a rush of adrenaline, but also satisfies our primal urge to fight.