What is Boxing?
Boxing is a combat sport that is also popular amongst people who are looking to improve their fitness. Only strikes with the fists can be thrown. The art has grown into a great self defence system that people can use if they are attacked and want to be able to fight back.
An early name for Boxing was ‘pugilism’ which means fist fight! Boxing has evolved massively since its early days into one of the most popular and practised combat sports in the world.
- The origins and history of Boxing
- How Boxing spread to the US and across the world
- Modern day Boxing
- Styles of Boxing
- Boxing techniques and moves
- Martial arts where Boxing is used
- Why is Boxing referred to as the ‘sweet science’?
- Equipment needed when you first start Boxing
- Boxing competition rules
- Boxing in the Olympics
- Boxing for kids
- Why study Boxing over other martial arts
- Benefits of Boxing
- How to get started and find a Boxing class!
The origins and history of Boxing
The origins and history of Boxing are not fully clear to us. There are many reports and claims as to where and when Boxing first started. What we do know, is that fighting with the fists has been a prevalent and recurring theme throughout history!
Early signs of Boxing
The earliest references to Boxing date back to around 3000 BCE from ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic scriptures. It is believed that Boxing was very popular amongst the people of Egypt at the time.
However, there is also evidence that Boxing was likely present in what is now modern-day Ethiopia. A relief sculpture from around 1350 BCE shows both boxers and spectators. A carved vase from Minoan Crete also shows evidence of some sort of hand covering used during the duels from around 1500 BCE.
Boxing history is unclear up until it became demonstrably popular in Ancient Greece. Competitions would be regularly held to provide entertainment for the people. Boxing was introduced into the Olympics in 688 BCE.
Boxing had barely any rules whatsoever during this time. There were no weight classes and fighters would fight until they could no longer continue. Fighters would wrap their hands in leather thongs to protect their hands and wrists.
Due to there being no weight classes, the heavyweights would usually dominate the tournaments. Boxing was also popularised in Ancient Rome.
It would start to become more brutal amongst the Romans as they would start to add metal spikes to their leather straps, resulting in more deaths.
Fights would be held in Roman Amphitheatres. The Roman Empire later fell and Christianity became more prominent, leading to the decline of Boxing for a good while.
Bare knuckle Boxing in London
Boxing was later revived in London, where bare knuckle Boxing started to grow in popularity. The first bare knuckle bout took place in 1681, when Christopher Monck put together a fight between his butler and butcher to entertain his guests.
From 1698, fights would regularly be scheduled and fought in the Royal Theatre in London. Though Boxing was outlawed, it was very popular in the city with many people seeking fame, money and glory by participating.
In 1719, Jack Fig was the favourite amongst the public and regarded as the champion of England. It is believed that he was the first bare knuckle champion and his reign lasted for around 10 years!
One of Fig’s fans was a man by the name of Jack Broughton. He introduced the first set of rules in Boxing in order to protect the wellbeing of the fighters. He introduced some key rules, and some of these are still being used today:
- Only hands can be used whilst fighting
- No eye- gouging or hitting the opponent when they are down
- No punches can be thrown below the waistline
- A fighter has 30 seconds to get up from a knockdown, otherwise the fight is over
Broughton also invented what were known as ‘mufflers’ which are believed to have inspired the Boxing gloves we know and use today. They were used by fighters to protect their hands when training before their fights.
Boxing became a sport
Some new rules would be introduced that built on Broughton’s rules and would turn Boxing into a more civilised sport. These were known as the ‘The London Prize Ring Rules’.
They were first used in around 1838/1839 when William ‘Bendigo’ Thompson defeated James ‘Deaf’ Burke for the title of being the ‘Champion of England’. Some of the key changes made were:
- Fighting in 24 square feet which was bounded by two ropes on each side
- 30 second break for a downed opponent, which would mark the end of the round- they had 8 seconds to make it back to the centre of the ring after the break otherwise they lost
- No hitting with the heads or legs
- No cursing or quarrelling
- No hitting below the waist
As we can see the rules started to take form and advanced a lot from Broughton’s rules. The ring was finally introduced, which is still used to this day!
Marques of Queensbury Rules
The rules were adjusted again by John Chambers in 1867. He added some key rules which finally finished off the ruleset of Boxing in aid of it becoming a sport accepted by all.
The following rules were made and they became known as the ‘Marques of Queensbury Rules’ due to the assistance of John Sholto Douglas, who was the 9th marquees of Queensbury:
- Fighters had to wear padded gloves
- Wrestling was not allowed
- A fighter had 10 seconds to get up after being knocked down
- Rounds would last 3 minutes with a one-minute rest in between
- Weight classes were introduced in order to make fights fairer
The Queensbury rules are still in use today and they are the most accepted rules in Boxing. Bare knuckle Boxing became frowned upon and was made illegal in many states in America.
The Queensbury rules would notably be used in 1892 for the world heavyweight championship bout where ‘Gentleman Jim” Corbett defeated John L Sullivan.
How Boxing spread to the US and across the world
Boxing spread to America in the 1800s. English and Irish fighters went to America in search of new competition for themselves. John L Sullivan became the first champion from America to be considered the world champion.
100 years after Sullivan’s emergence, most champions came from America. England was no longer the centre of Boxing and America took over.
Many people believe this was because Boxing was not accepted by all due to the problems it caused such as fights breaking out and people being heavily involved with gambling on the outcome of matches.
Boxing became even more successful in America due to a new movement known as the ‘Muscular Christianity’. This started to grow and saw Boxing as a way that people could increase both their physical and moral strength.
Theodore Roosevelt also believed in this and he would practise Boxing too. However, Boxing was still illegal in many states, so Boxing clubs had to be introduced where paying customers would watch the fights.
The sport continued to grow and started to become popular on the radio and then the TV leading to Boxing clubs being abandoned. This brought Boxing to new heights and helped the sport to reach a much wider audience.
Casinos started to popularise Boxing too as gambling on events gave people a way to earn money off the fights. Due to Boxing being televised, the sport became a worldwide practice, and more people became interested. This started to create superstars who became known worldwide such as Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard and Mike Tyson.
These years are what are often considered the golden years of Boxing as there were superstars throughout the decades that kept Boxing in the limelight.
However, after Tyson, Boxing would start to decline in popularity. Mixed martial arts (MMA) emerged and this started to gain the public’s attention instead.
As of recent times Boxing seems to be heading in the right direction again with the heavyweight division, once again becoming of interest to people with the likes of Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury!
Modern day Boxing
Nowadays Boxing has continued to evolve and people can now compete both amateurly and professionally.
Many more weight categories have been introduced too, going as low as minimumweight (105 pounds/ 48kg). This has allowed for a fairer fight with people being able to fight someone a much closer weight to themselves.
Boxing Weight Categories
- Minimumweight (105 pounds/ 48kg)
- Light flyweight (108 pounds/ 49kg)
- Flyweight (112 pounds/ 51kg)
- Super flyweight (115 pounds/ 52kg)
- Bantamweight (118 pounds/ 53.5kg)
- Super bantamweight (122 pounds/ 55kg)
- Featherweight (126 pounds/ 57kg)
- Super featherweight (130 pounds/ 59kg)
- Lightweight (135 pounds/ 61kg)
- Super lightweight (140 pounds/ 63.5kg)
- Welterweight (147 pounds/ 67kg)
- Super welterweight (154 pounds/ 70kg)
- Middleweight (160 pounds/ 72.5kg)
- Super middleweight (168 pounds/ 76kg)
- Light heavyweight (175 pounds/ 79kg)
- Cruiserweight (200 pounds/ 91kg)
- Heavyweight (unlimited)
As we can see, Boxing has come a long way from having no weight limits whatsoever!
Amateur Boxing has become especially popular amongst younger people who start Boxing. There is much more focus on scoring points in these bouts as boxers aim to improve their technique and skills. Most amateurs will have to wear head guards.
Through amateur Boxing, the competitors will decide whether they will want to turn professional. This is a big step up as head guards are now removed and people are fighting for a livelihood.
Making it more dangerous in the ring as both will want to perform to the best of their abilities, which sometimes leads to there being brutal knockouts.
Check out our Floyd Mayweather- MILITAR MINDSET video as part of our Icon Series on YouTube!
Styles of Boxing
Overtime, boxers have started to develop their own styles of fighting. Through training and fights, boxers are able to see which style suits them best.
This way, they are able to perform to the best of their abilities in order to secure the win. We will go through some of the most popular Boxing styles that have emerged over the many years of Boxing:
Insider fighter (swarmer/ pressure fighter)
The goal of this type of fighting style is to apply as much pressure as possible to the opponent. The boxer will continually come forward and unload combos onto their opponent.
Fighters who choose this style will most likely be shorter than their opponent and have a smaller reach. Therefore, they will use punches such as uppercuts and hooks when they come into fighting distance.
The likes of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, Mike Tyson and Manny Pacquaio are popular fighters who use this style.
Check out our Mike Tyson- MILITAR MINDSET video as part of our Icon Series on YouTube!
Out- fighter (out- boxer)
This style is the opposite to an inside- fighter. They want as much space and room as possible. These kinds of boxers are fast on their feet and like to use long range punches such as the jab and cross punches.
They will usually try to wear out their fighter and look to secure a late knockout or decision win. Popular out-fighters include Muhammad Ali and Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Check out our Muhammad Ali- MILITAR MINDSET video as part of our Icon Series on YouTube!
These types of fighters usually lack the skills of someone like an out-boxer, but they make up for this with their power! They are predictable and slower, but they have what it takes to end the fight in a punch.
Due to this, the slugger always has a puncher’s chance of winning the fight. They usually don’t have much of a game plan, other than knocking out their opponent! Famous sluggers include the likes of George Foreman and Vitali Klitschko.
This style is a hybrid style, where boxers are able to display all the different styles we have mentioned. They are able to out-box their opponents at distance, but also able to put pressure onto them in close distance.
Well- known boxer- punchers would be fighters such as Sugar Ray Robinson, Lennox Lewis and Roy Jones Jr.
Each of these styles have their own advantages and disadvantages. For example, an out- boxer can usually use their footwork and speed to stay away from a slugger to wear them down.
However, the slugger still has a chance if they can land a devastating blow. Inside- fighters can also have success with out- boxers, if they are able to keep putting pressure on them and keep the fight in close distance.
This is why boxers are now training so that they can become boxer- punchers, allowing them to adapt to the situations they find themselves in within a fight.
Other subcategories could also include counter punchers, who wait on their opponent to attack and then they punch back when there is an opening.
Boxing is continuing to develop and new methods are being used. For instance Vasyl Lomachenko, has recently shown us the importance of footwork and angles.
Boxing techniques and moves
The key fundamentals of Boxing can be broken down into these categories:
The most common stance for fighters to fight in is orthodox. This is where your left leg is placed in front of your right leg and your body is facing side on towards the right.
Southpaw would be the opposite stance and is preferred for people who are left handed, with the right leg in front instead.
Stances can vary with people choosing to have their hands up high and shoulders up, or hands lower by their waist.
Former heavyweight world champion Wladimir Klitschko explains boxing stances in this video.
In Boxing the four main punches to throw are the jab, cross, hook and uppercut. All can be used in different situations and circumstances.
For example, if you are closer to your opponent you are most likely to throw either hooks or uppercuts. If you are further you are most likely to throw jabs and crosses.
Check out this video to see how to throw different punches with the correct technique.
The most important thing in Boxing is to protect yourself at all times! You can defend yourself by blocking punches or moving out of the way of them by using footwork and head movement.
Taking the least possible damage is important for boxers who fight, especially for their long-term health.
Give this video a watch to find out some of the best defensive moves in Boxing.
Boxers ranging from low level to high level, will make sure these fundamentals are in place. The stance will allow you to have a solid base, allowing you to throw your punches.
From there, defence is important as it will decrease the damage you take, allowing you to stay fresh and healthy in the fight.
Martial arts where Boxing is used
Due to Boxing being around for such a long time and it being so effective, many other art forms incorporated Boxing into their own arts:
- KickBoxing- This martial art incorporates both kicks and punches as implied in the name. Many people will want to work on their punches, using Boxing techniques. KickBoxing practitioners may also embed different karate and Muay Thai techniques into their training too.
- Muay Thai- Many Muay Thai practitioners will work on improving their punching combos through Boxing. Usually, they will be looking to use a sharp Boxing combination, so that they can set up throwing more devastating blows such as kicks and knees. Check out our ‘What is Muay Thai?’ post!
- Boxing for fitness- People nowadays use Boxing as a way to improve their health and fitness. This can include hitting the bag for a duration of time or shadow Boxing (sometimes using weights). Boxercise has emerged, which is a fitness regime that uses aspects of Boxing training.
- Shadow Boxing- This is a practice many people do across Boxing and many other arts. This is the process that usually practitioners will do to warm up before training, by visualising an opponent in front of themselves and using their punching combos and movements, as if they were fighting someone.
These are some of the key arts that have embedded Boxing, but MMA and Jeet Kune Do have also added Boxing techniques to their regimes.
Especially MMA fighters, many will have their own Boxing/ striking coach who will work with them and help them to improve their Boxing skills for upcoming bouts.
Why is Boxing referred to as the ‘sweet science’?
Boxing is also known as the ‘sweet science’. This name resembles how boxers must be tactical as well as tough. Boxers must be able to outsmart their opponent and determine what their next moves will be so that they can defend themselves effectively.
The term ‘sweet science’ was first coined by British sportswriter Pierce Egan in 1813. The phrase really started to become popular in the 1950s when A.J. Liebling, a New York writer, wrote a book called ‘The Sweet Science’.
In this book he highlighted important moments in modern day Boxing, showing how the sport was also a thinking man’s game.
People believe that Boxing can be similar to chess, as the fighter must anticipate the next movements of their opponents. This started to open up people’s eyes to the fact that Boxing wasn’t just a brutal sport. There was much more to it.
With the boxer’s ability to train using footwork, feints and head movements in order to gain the better hand over their opponents in a fight. The science lies within how boxers are able to use techniques efficiently and effectively.
Many boxers attend training camps which can last for a few months, in order to strategize and prepare themselves with a master game plan to defeat their opponents.
Equipment needed when you first start Boxing
When going to your first Boxing class, it would be ideal to wear a t-shirt and shorts (we are currently in the process of making these, which are perfect for training, make sure to subscribe here to find out our clothing updates!).
You will want to wear clothes that fit comfortably. For Boxing there is no uniform required, so you will be able to wear your own suitable (Militar!) clothes.
We would also recommend that you take Boxing gloves if you have some too. It is highly likely that you will need to wear gloves for some part of the Boxing class.
You can buy gloves in different sizes ranging from 10oz- 16oz usually. The weight of the gloves depends on your own physical weight and level of training .
Usually, people will get heavier gloves for training such as 14oz or 16oz. Lighter gloves can be used on speed bags and are often used for actual fights.
If you plan on just watching the first session, it would be good to talk to the coaches there about what kind of gloves would be suitable and find out if they sell them too.
To go with your gloves, hand wraps would also be recommended especially if you plan on training regularly. Wraps are especially important when hitting the bag or hard sparring, where you are exerting more power into your punches.
The hand wraps will protect both your knuckles and wrists, preventing injuries.
Footwear wise, it would be best to wear trainers for your first lesson. But again, you may choose to purchase Boxing shoes, which are specific to Boxing and lightweight, allowing you to move freely on your feet.
This is again an extra cost so you should only consider it if you are planning on actively training in Boxing.
Other types of equipment that would be important if you dedicate yourself to improving your Boxing skills and are regularly training would be:
- Skipping/ jump rope- great exercise for improving your fitness and footwork
- Mouthguard- protects your teeth in sparring
- Headguard- protects your head in sparring
As you can see, there are many items that could be purchased for Boxing. We would recommend that you assess what training you are doing to see which items will be necessary for you.
Boxing competition rules
Boxing bouts are broken down into 2 categories, amateur and professional. Both have the same rule sets, but amateurs will wear more protective gear such as headguards and will have standing counts (when a referee sees an opponent is hurt but has not gone to the floor).
Also amateur bouts are usually 2 minutes long and there are less rounds (around 3). However, with professional Boxing, the duration is longer with 3-minute rounds and a 1-minute interval in between each round.
The number of rounds depends on the level of the fighters. High level boxers can box up to 12 round fights.
The Marquess of Queensbury rules are still used to this day in both amateur and professional bouts as a reference to what a fair fight should be like.
As stated before, amateur bouts are more about scoring whereas in professional Boxing, knockouts are much more common especially with there being no headguards.
A boxer can either win by decision, knockout, corner stoppage or if the referee stops the fight (technical knockout/TKO).
We will go through the scoring and some key rules of Boxing bouts:
The fight will be scored by 3 judges who will be sat ringside. Sometimes referees will score the fight. But it is most common that there will be judges scoring the fight on a certain criteria:
- Effective aggression- This is when a fighter is pressuring his opponent and landing good punches and evading their opponents strikes, or out punching them. This can show dominance in the eyes of the judges if done well.
- Ring control- This will be the fighter who is controlling the ring and the fight. They will be pushing the action and enforcing their will and style.
- Defensive skills- Boxers who are using good defensive skills such as blocking, and slipping are favoured by the judges. It shows good Boxing skills and awareness of what their opponent is trying to do. Being able to make their opponent miss and then counter with their own punches, is even better.
- Punches landed- Judges will be looking for punches that are landing clean and sharp. The punches that have the biggest effect on their opponents will rank higher with the judges.
The fight will be scored on a 10-point system. 10 points are awarded to the fighter that has been able to meet the criteria and has performed better in the round.
Their opponent will usually be given 9 points if they have lost the round. Scoring the round 10-9 to the better boxer. However, if a fighter knocks down their opponent, this scores even better with the judges.
The fighter that has been knocked down will lose a point, scoring that round 10-8 to the boxer who scored the knockdown. Rounds can even be a 10-7 if a fighter is knocked down numerous times but still makes it to the end of the round.
Points can also be lost for not following the rules and referees can deduct points from fighters, which they will signify to judges during the fight.
If the fight goes to a decision. There are 4 different outcomes:
- Unanimous decision- All 3 judges had the same fighter winning on their scorecards.
- Split decision- 2 judges had the same fighter winning, whilst one had the other winning on their scorecards.
- Majority decision- 2 judges had the same fighter winning, whilst one had the bout as a draw on their scorecards
- Draw- This happens when either 2 judges or more have scored the fight as a draw or if one judge scores the fight for one fighter and another judge scores it for the other fighter, but the third judge has scored it a draw.
We will go through some of the key rules that all Boxing fights follow. Different organisations can have some slightly different rules.
Fighters will usually wear lighter gloves on fight night (usually around 8oz or 10oz). They will have their gloves and hand wraps checked before the bouts to make sure there is no cheating going on.
Fighters who break the rules can receive point deductions but can also be disqualified from the fight depending on the severity of the rule breaking.
All of the rules mentioned below are common amongst all Boxing organisations:
- You cannot hit your opponent below the belt (waist)
- You cannot wrestle, kick or headbutt your opponent
- You must listen to the referee at all times- such as when they say to break from a clinch
- Punches to the back of the head (rabbit punches) or back are not allowed
- If you score a knockdown, you must go to the furthest neutral corner whilst the referee counts
- You cannot hit your opponent whilst they are down on the canvas
Other rules can vary between jurisdictions. This includes the standing eight count, the three knockdown rule and being saved by the bell. Find out more about the rules of Boxing here.
Boxing in the Olympics
As stated before, Boxing became an Olympic sport early on. It would first be introduced into the Olympics in the 23rd Olympiad at around 688 BCE.
Back then there were no rules or weight classes. Bouts were brutal at times and lasted until either a fighter was knocked out or accepted defeat.
Boxing would be reintroduced into the Olympics in 1904 in St Louis, America. By then Boxing had come leaps and bounds with rules and weight classes in place, making it more of a sport.
Boxing has continued to be a regular sport at the Olympics since then. Women’s Boxing was finally introduced to the Olympics just recently in London in 2012.
Many boxers who do well at the Olympics, go on to become great professional boxers. This includes Muhammad Ali, Roy Jones Jr, Floyd Mayweather Jr, Genady Golovkin and Anthony Joshua.
Boxing for kids
Boxing is very popular amongst kids. When done correctly, making sure the child’s health is priority, it can be great for kids.
At this young age, kids will mostly be training on punchbags and doing drills to improve their technique. Sparring for kids is more to help with their technique, so it is monitored to make sure that no one is getting hurt.
Regular training in Boxing can be a great boost for their confidence in life generally. They can train to improve their skills but can also compete in tournaments.
Being able to compete in tournaments will also provide them with that drive to train hard and achieve great things in the sport!
Why study Boxing over other martial arts?
All martial arts are similar in the respect that they teach you ways of defending yourself and how to control both the mind and the body.
Boxing is a great art to practice due to it being focused on some of the key fundamentals of fighting. When training in Boxing, you will learn how to throw punches effectively and correctly.
This can be great for self-defence situations, as you will learn how to block punches and throw your own punches back.
In terms of techniques used, Boxing is specifically focused on throwing punches. This can make it easier for people to learn and pick up as other elements such as kicks and knees are not used in Boxing.
However, when competing in Boxing, there are levels to the sport where people will be technically better in all aspects of the game the higher up you go.
People also like to study Boxing due to its popularity. Boxing is one of the most popular combat sports in the world. Many people are aware of Boxing as a sport and can make viable careers out of it.
Those who want to make Boxing their job, can do so. This again depends on the level you are competing at. Those who make it to a high level can fully rely on Boxing as income to live off, receiving money from fights and sponsors.
The boxers who make it to world level and are the elite boxers in the world can make immense sums of money. But most boxers who fight at a lower level usually will have other jobs to help provide them with income.
Boxing being an Olympic sport is also a reason why many people chose the art form. It is believed that Boxing was one of the first combat sports to emerge and one of the first in the Olympics.
This dream to compete in the Olympics is something that may drive people to pursue Boxing. To become an Olympian.
Benefits of Boxing
There are many benefits of training in Boxing. We will go through some of the key benefits:
- Learn self-defence– Boxing will teach you how to effectively throw punches and defend yourselves from them, using blocking, head movement and footwork.
- Improve your strength and stamina- Through constant training you will see an increase in your strength and stamina. Boxing can be tough, but over time you will see the improvements you make!
- Improve self-confidence! – Training in Boxing will boost the confidence you have in yourself. As you start to learn the techniques and improve your Boxing skills, you will feel a great sense of achievement. Boosting your overall morale.
- Increase hand-eye coordination- Boxing requires you to be able to use both your fists and eyes in sync with one another. Through practice, you will become better at this improving your reflexes and your concentration levels. These are skills that are important outside of Boxing too.
- Improve your mental health- Regular training can help to reduce stress you may have and uplift your spirits by providing you a way of expressing yourself through the martial art. It can help combat depression and anxiety.
- Builds character- Boxing is one of the tougher martial arts. There will be days where you find it tough and feel like you are on the verge of quitting. But you won’t! You will continue to push your boundaries and find out what you are truly capable of.
How to get started and find a Boxing class!
Anyone can start Boxing no matter how old or fit you are. Finding a Boxing class is a simple process! Make sure to check online for nearby Boxing gyms in your area, as most will have an online presence.
Contact the school (if they have contact details) if you have any questions you want to ask. Find out which session you would like to attend by contacting them if possible.
Wearing a t-shirt and shorts will be suitable for training (make sure to sign up to our emails here to find the latest on our clothing!) in your first lesson, you will not be required to purchase all the equipment as of yet (head to the equipment section to see what we recommend if you haven’t read it).
This is a commitment you make once you realise Boxing is for you! Turn up to one of their sessions and see how it goes! Usually first classes are free, so this will allow you to see if this is a good fit for you.
After going to a few classes and trying this martial art, Boxing may not be for you. Don’t worry, there are many other martial arts out there! Be sure to check out our ‘MARTIAL ARTS…WHAT ARE THEY?’ post to gain a good understanding of other popular martial arts too!
If you have any questions on this post, the MILITAR MINDSET, martial arts in general or any other enquiries feel free to contact us.
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We have gone through Boxing in this post. In our next few posts on the Martial Arts Series, we will cover other individual martial arts. Make sure you subscribe to our blog to keep up to date with the latest posts!