HomeSportsBoxingA Detailed History of Boxing and How it Originated in the World
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A Detailed History of Boxing and How it Originated in the World

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Boxing – One of the few sports which people from all age groups across the globe enjoy even if they are not aware of its rules and regulations. Because of course, why wouldn’t you watch two fighters throwing punches at each other? Boxing is much more than two contestants throwing punches. It involves intense technique, focus, stamina, and more importantly – timing. All this comes into play in deciding when to land a punch and when to back out. Interesting, isn’t it? Well, the history of Boxing is as interesting as well. Although it is one of the most entertaining sports right now, it is equally dangerous. And while there are several precautions in place for the protection of boxers, it wasn’t always the same.
In ancient Greece, boxing was a lot different than what we see today. The sport slowly evolved before being accepted by society. Let us dive into the history of Boxing:

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History of Boxing: Ancient History

History of Boxing
History of Boxing (Ancient Greece) Credits Flickr

Throughout the world, various pieces of evidence of boxing or fist-fighting have been found. The earliest documentation of boxers exchanging blows dates back to 1650 BC when a painting of the Minoan Civilization was found. In the 1350 BC sculpture of the Egyptian Thebes, both boxers and spectators are shown, confirming boxing as the sport.

But it was Ancient Greece that took boxing – the sport, more seriously than the rest of the world. It was a well developed sport with a set of rules and popularity amongst the masses. Boxing was even part of the Ancient Olympic Games, first introduced during the 23rd Olympiad in 688 BC.

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Despite the rules, the game was nothing like we see today. Leather thongs were used to wrap up the boxer’s hands for protection. There were no rounds or any kind of time limit during the bout. The fighters would continue fighting until one of them forfeited the bout or could not continue any longer. Unlike today, the concept of weight classes was not used back then, making it easier for heavyweights to dominate the sport.

In India, several references to “musti-yuddha” (boxing) have been found. Ramayana, Mahabharata, and Rig-Veda, all have incidences involving fist-fighting. The Ancient Roman Empire was also famous for the sport back in the day but due to its brutality, it was completely stopped in AD 393.


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History of Boxing: Modern History

History of Boxing
History of Boxing (Credits Guild Hall library Newsletter)

Boxing, the sport, did not return until the 16th-17th century. Bare-knuckle boxing started gaining popularity in England in the late 17th century. James Figg became the first English bare-knuckle champion in 1719. It was around this time when the word “boxing” was first used.

Boxing had no proper set of rules until 1867 when the Marquess of Queensberry rules were drafted by John Chambers. Ring dimensions, number of rounds, duration of each round, 10-count rule, and many such rules that we see today were introduced by the Marquess of Queensberry rules. The first heavyweight champion under Queensberry Rules was “Gentleman Jim” Corbett of America, who won the championship at the New Orleans in 1892.

But despite all the rules and regulations, boxing was not accepted by the common public. The bare-knuckle fights were banned in most of the United Kingdom and the USA. Money was the main motive behind the fights, with prize money for the winner, ticket money for the promoter, and spectators betting on the result.

It all started to change when boxing was first introduced in the modern Olympics in 1904. In the 1908 Olympics, amateur boxing became the part of Olympics and people started watching the game with interest.

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Jimmy Barry, the American Professional boxer, was one of the most famous figures in the late 1890s as he never lost a fight. His record stands at 59 wins and 9 draws in the bantamweight class.


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Difference between Amateur & Professional Boxing

Head Gears are must in Amateur Boxing (Credits Zimbio)

Amateur boxing mainly features in the Olympic and Commonwealth Games. It is usually a more protective type of boxing as compared to professional boxing. A bout usually consists of three rounds of three minutes with points awarded based on the number of clean punches landed rather than the intensity of the blow.

For protection purposes, boxers wear headgear during amateur boxing bouts. Ringside judges award points to boxers and the one with the most points at the end of the fight is declared the winner. In the case of the points tie, the winner is decided on technical superiority.

Professional boxing is a much longer affair than amateur boxing with fights ranging from ten to twelve rounds. A technical knockout win is awarded if the opponent is unable to continue the fight. No headgear is used in this type as the boxers are allowed to take much physical damage.

Young boxers usually try to work on their technical ability and participate in the Olympics and Commonwealth Games at an early age before turning pro later in their career. Due to its popularity and the money invested by promoters and investors, there is more money to be earned in professional boxing. And as its best example, you don’t have to look any further than Floyd Mayweather.

Modern Boxing

Professional Boxing

Image Source: Superprof

With the flow of money and its popularity, Professional boxing became one of the most famous sports in America and Europe around the 1950s. Several legendary boxers became instant heroes and gained a lot of popularity even in mainstream media. The success of movies based on Boxing in Hollywood helped spread Boxing all around the world.

Muhammad Ali, formerly known as Cassius Clay Jr. is without one of the most famous names in boxing. He is considered the best boxer of all time by many. Ali won the Gold Medal in the 1960 Olympics before turning professional. His record of 56 wins, including 37 knockouts and just 5 losses is one of the best in the history of the sport.

But before Ali dominated the Boxing World for more than two decades, Joe Louis was the king of the ring in the 1940s. The American boxer’s record stands at an incredible 66 wins, including staggering 52 knockouts and just 3 losses.


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Mike Tyson, another famous name in the mainstream media, was another successful but equally controversial boxer in the late 20th century. His record is 50 wins and 6 losses, including 44 knockout wins.

Floyd Mayweather is one of the richest sportsmen of all time and he has earned it by retiring unbeaten with 50 wins. But the American is not the only one to retire unbeaten in his boxing career. In fact, there are a total of 15 boxers who retired without losing a bout.

Amateur Boxing

History of Boxing
History of Boxing – Laszlo Papp (credits Boxing News Online)

While Professional boxing remained more famous and much more money-laden than Amateur Boxing, boxers still dream of winning the Olympic medal. And that drive and fight for the top of the podium made boxing one of the most famous sports in the Olympic Games.

Boxing has been part of the Olympic Games since 1904 and in 2012, Women’s Boxing was also introduced at the Games. The USA has dominated the Olympics by some distance, with 50 gold medals and 114 podium finishes in total. Cuba, where amateur boxing is one of the most famous sports, is second on the list with 37 gold medals.

Felix Savon and Teófilo Stevenson of Cuba and László Papp of Hungary have won the most, three gold medals at the Olympics. The Hungarian was the first man to do so, with medals in 1948, 1952, and 1956. He is also the only boxer to win multiple gold medals across two weight categories.

Nicola Adams and Claressa Shields hold the record for most gold medals in women’s boxing at the Olympics, winning the gold in both 2012 and 2016, in flyweight and middleweight, respectively.


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Current Champions

History of Boxing
Andy Ruiz Jr. (Credits BoxNews)

Due to several governing bodies in the boxing world, five different championships are up for grabs for current boxers. World Boxing Association (WBA) is currently one of the biggest governing bodies. Andy Ruiz Jr. scored an upset victory over Anthony Joshua in the first week of June to win the WBA Championship. With his victory, Ruiz also became the International Boxing Federation (IBF) and World Boxing Organization (WBO) champion.

With 17 different weight divisions and five different titles in each category, the list of title holders is exceptionally vast. Check out all the current champions here.

India in Boxing

Vijender Singh

Being the origin country of wrestling, India has failed to excel in other combat sports so far. The country has also found very little success in Boxing, most of which has come in the last decade.

India’s first success at the highest level in boxing came in the 2008 Olympics when Vijender Singh won the bronze medal in the middleweight category. The bronze medallist then climbed to the No. 1 ranking of the international Boxing Association in 2009. In the same year, Singh won the bronze medal at the Milan World Championship, becoming the first Indian to do so.


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The Haryana-born boxer continued to make India proud with 3 medals at the Commonwealth, 2 in the Asian Games, including the gold in 2010, and 2 more medals at the Asian Championship. Singh decided to turn pro in 2015 and is on an unbeaten streak of 10 wins. Seven of his ten wins have come in the form of knockouts. Singh also holds the WBO Asia Pacific Super Middleweight and WBO Oriental Super Middleweight Champion.

Magnificent Mary

Mary Kom Kreedon
History of Boxing (credits: Herbalife)

Mary Kom is arguably the greatest boxer India has ever given to the world of Boxing. Hailing from Manipur, Kom is the only woman to win the World Amateur Boxing Championship record 6 times. She also won the bronze medal in the 2012 London Olympics in the 51 kg category. 

Kom has won 5 Gold Medals at the Asian Championship, 1 each at the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, and Asian Indoor Games. Her success in Boxing has inspired many Indians to take up boxing. Kom has also helped Indian women to find their motivation in Sports and work their way to the top. Pinki Jangra and Kavita Chahal have also represented and won medals for India in Asian Games and World Championships.

Before 2000s

hawa singh kreedon
History of Boxing

But much before Singh and Kom, Paresh Lal Roy of Kolkata worked hard to popularize the sport in India. He opened a training center in Ballygunge and organized the first inter-railway Boxing Championship in 1928. 

Paresh Lal Roy’s hard work did not bear fruit for a long time before Hawa Singh came into the picture. Regarded as the Father of Indian Boxing, he won the Gold Medal at the 1966 and 1970 Asian Games. 

Pu Zoramthanga and V Devarajan found success in the World Championships, with bronze medals in 1990 and 1994 respectively. India had to wait a little longer to find more success in Boxing after that. Mohammed Ali Qamar became the first Indian to win the Gold Medal at the Commonwealth Games. He won the medal in light flyweight at the Manchester Games.

Since then, Indians have managed to find the podium regularly in Commonwealth Games and Asian Games. Jitendra Kumar, Manoj Kumar, Suranjoy Singh, Akhil Kumar, Devendra Singh, and Shiva Thapa are some of the names to have made India proud in the last two decades. Shiva Thapa is currently one of the favorites to win the medal in the 2020 Tokyo Games.


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FAQ

How old is Boxing?

Boxing is one of the oldest known sports today, with 2,000-year-old depictions on the walls of tombs in Egypt and stone carvings indicating that Sumerians—who lived in what is now Iraq—boxed at least 5,000 years ago.

What is the history of boxing in India?

The sport rapidly grew across the world and the first instance of amateur boxing’s presence in India dates back to 1925, when the Bombay Presidency Amateur Boxing Federation was formed.

What is Boxing called in Hindi?

Boxing is called ‘Mukkebaazi’ in Hindi.

How can I join boxing in India?

Once a Boxing Promoter agrees to add you onto their next fight card, the promoter will send your name to the Indian Boxing Council. You will be then be required to apply for a Professional Boxer License. Only licensed boxers can be included on a Professional Boxing fightcard by a Boxing Promoter.

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Chinmay Pagar
Chinmay Pagar
I might be a Mechanical Engineer on the paper, but I was a Sports enthusiast since childhood, screaming at the TV watching cricket at the age of 4. Not much excites me other than sports unless it's free pizza. I can watch literally anything remotely related to sports; Cricket, Football, Tennis, F1, Hockey, Athletics, Chess, you name it! And I love to write too, so at the time I'm not watching sports, I'm writing about it. Or eating pizzas, of course.

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