The history of boxing: Like most combat sports, boxing is rooted in ancient history. Bare fist fighting was among the gladiatorial games in Ancient Rome. Bareknuckle prizefighting was popular among working class citizens in England in the 1700s during the Industrial Revolution. The first versions of the sport largely lacked regulations, but by the 1750s, most boxers were fighting in square rings rather than in the center of a circle of spectators.
Almost 100 years later, the Marquess of Queensberry, a royal fan of fisticuffs, promoted a more defined rule set which put a 3-minute time limit on rounds, establishing the 10-second knockout rule and restricted foul and vicious attacks like striking below the belt and eye gouging. Queensberry’s rules were among the first to mandate that fighters wear gloves.
During the early 20th Century in the United States, boxing grew as an athletic and economic outlet for impoverished americans, immigrants and black men. By this time, boxing was sorted into weight classes to make fights more fair and more entertaining. In the 1904 Olympic Games, the seven weight classes ranged from Flyweight at 105 lbs and under, to Heavyweight at 158 lbs and over. In the modern Olympics, there is a 100 lb difference over the 10 available weight classes: Light-Flyweights fight below 100 lbs; Super-Heavyweights fight above 200 lbs.
Boxing’s most substantial growth as a sport and as entertainment was during the Cold War era. Boxing was one of the easiest sports to produce on TV, and was therefore broadcasted more frequently than any other sport. This era gave rise to the quick hands, fancy footwork and quick wit of Muhammed Ali. Ali’s charisma drove fans to revere their favorite fighters not only for their skills in the ring, but also their personalities in and outside the ring.