“The Manly Art of Self-Defense”

When tasked with writing a blog and told to “write about literally anything related to sports”, it sometimes becomes tough to narrow down a singular topic to discuss. It is a daunting assignment, and for me it is not something I am able to traverse with ease. After entertaining and pursuing a few different topics, I finally stumbled upon one which I hold close to my heart; boxing. My freshman year I needed a competitive activity to fill the void high school sports created, yet had no idea what to pursue. It was during this period I stumbled upon the sport of Boxing. The physical challenges, as well as the person recognition of achievement from winning fights was exactly what I was searching for, and offered me the perfect activity to fill that long left empty void. When the sport of boxing is mentioned, the majority of the US populace thinks of the greats such as Mohammed Ali and, recently, Floyd Mayweather. Though both loud and obnoxious in demeanor, these two fighters will go down in the history books as two of the greatest boxers to ever participate in the sport; however beyond the athletes themselves boxing has a unique story, which dates back thousands of years and has evolved immensely since its creation.
Boxing, by definition, is “a combat sport, involving two individuals, who test the others strength, speed, reflexes, endurance and will throwing punches with gloved hands against each other.” With its earliest roots stemming from Ancient Egypt, boxing was first documented in the second millennium BCE. It began as simply two willing contester’s, sometimes unwilling, who simply fought each other for the sheer pleasure of it. From Ancient Egypt, the sport spread to select locations in Southern Europe. The Romans took a particular liking to it, and eventually competitors began fighting for large audiences. However, unlike modern boxing, these fights did not conclude when a fighter chose, instead these bouts were fought to the death. Revolutionizing the sport, sadistically, to entertain the blood thirsty fans, the Romans created a primitive type of glove which contained metal studs producing devastating outcomes to the fighters bodies. As the age of swords began to unveil itself, the sport of boxing slowly faded into the history books, and would not officially reemerge until the sixteenth century.
Upon the age of the sword fading, the sport of prize fighting (simply bare knuckle boxing) materialized in England. In this primitive form of boxing there were no rules, no weight classes, and no officials to regulate fights. These fights were very chaotic and closely resembled the Roman bouts where fighters were brutally beaten and sometimes killed. Out of the Chaos emerged a beacon of hope for the sport in the form of Broughton’s rules introduced in 1743. Jack Broughton, known as the father of English Boxing, was a fighting champion and laid the foundation for future rules and regulations which he thought would aid in preventing the injuries boxers were sustaining, while also creating order within the ring. His rules were simple: a downed man, who could not get up in thirty seconds, automatically lost, there was no hitting the downed fighters, and there was to be no punches below the waist. Broughton can also be credited with the invention, and promotion, of an early form of padded gloves called mufflers. The Broughton rules would reign as the leading regulations for boxing until in 1838 when the London Prize Ring Rules were organized and stated the fights would be conducted in a 24 foot ring surrounded by rope, if a fighter were knocked down, he had to rise within 30 seconds under his own power to be allowed to continue, and that biting, head-butting, and hitting below the belt were declared illegal.
In 1867 a new set of more specified rules were created titled the Marquess of Queensbury because they were first broadcasted under the patronage of the Marquess of Queensbury. 12 rules fell under this new set of regulations and in summary, declared “fights should be “a fair stand-up boxing match” in a 24-foot-square or similar ring. Rounds were three minutes with one-minute rest intervals between rounds. Each fighter was given a ten-second count if he were knocked down, and wrestling was banned.” Since their formation these rules have been the general rules regulating boxing even into the present.
The introduction of these new rules changed the sport forever, making a more strategic approach to the sport become necessary, and ultimately gave birth to the style and techniques still practiced by boxers to this day. Popular defensive moves such as the slipping and bobbing became necessary as the sport revolutionized from a culture of barbaric brawlers and gave birth to a more strategy based fighter who utilized the use of technique to beat his opponent. Having competed in this sport myself, I have come to appreciate the level of strategy and thinking which goes into a boxing match. Fighters are constantly observing their opponent, and the good ones, are constantly trying to stay three steps ahead of their competitor, much like in a game of chess. Boxing is an amazing sport, and I hope through this article those seeking out the sport will be able to appreciate it and appreciate the advances and evolution it has endured over thousands and thousands of years. Thanks to the early founders, such as Broughton, we are now able to enjoy a sport which is enjoyable to watch, and hopefully will be for many years to come.

References
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boxing
http://whitecollarboxing.com/boxinfo.htm

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