Boxing, what are the origins of this practice that seems so modern to us?
Well, the origin is very remote, is a sport that have been practiced since ancient times in all continents except America.
It is believed that the origin of boxing is African with more affluence in the area of present-day Ethiopia, and dates back to 6000 BC. From here this practice first spread to the Egyptian civilization where years later it was exported to the civilization of Crete and Mesopotamia from which it expanded to India.
The struggles that were carried out at the beginning were the so-called “fist fights”, hence the etymology of the word “boxing”, which was a concept already used in England in the sixteenth century.
At the beginning of the 18th century, boxing was already a popular sport in London and in some English cities, where people fought for money and spectators made bets. In England and at this time, this activity was a brutal mixture of wrestling and clean fist combat.
In 1719, an Oxforshire wrestler known as James Figg, is recognized as the first champion of England and reigned until his death in 1734. He was succeeded by his disciple, John Broughton, better known as Jack Broughton who would maintain supremacy until 1750.
Jack Broughton (English wrestler with a “clean fist”), at the age of 36, debuted in 1741 in London, in a boxing tournament with naked fists that would change forever the concept of this type of wrestling.
Broughton was a tough and strong boy, measuring 1.80 meters and weighing almost 90 kilos. He faced George Stevenson, a wrestler who had been in this world for some time. Stevenson was known in this sport for his speed and because he had better footwork than his opponent but Broughton was heavier and hit more solidly and that was crucial that night. The fight ended when Broughton knocked Stevenson down with a live one below the heart. Stevenson died three weeks later as a result of injuries sustained.
Broughton, was sunk after the fatal outcome and thought of abandoning the practice of boxing, but then had the vital need to design a set of rules to prevent the repetition of facts like that.
It was he who for the first time organized in this discipline a set of 7 rules, creating with them what would be the first guidelines of this sport. These rules began to apply them in the coliseum of which he was the owner and which was a reference for many wrestlers as it was the largest and most influential of the moment.
Jack Broughton collected these 7 rules in a regulation with which he wanted to turn boxing into a more human and scientific sport, providing it with a technical and methodical approach and optimizing the blows and displacements.
These seven Jack Broughton rules later evolved into the London Prize Ring Rules, which are widely regarded as the first stone of this sport which later became boxing, before the development of the Queensberry Marquis Rules in the 1860s.
His contribution to the sport is considered incalculable since prior to the fights used to have disastrous outcomes since they were conducted with more muscles than brains and often as wild festivals of blows with very few rules.
Broughton contributed many more things to this sport, developed a system of stop, “blows from afar” (throwing in retirement), stop and restriction of blows, and its defense, according to contemporaries, was so complete that it made it almost untouchable.
Jack Brouhton also provided important elements for this sport today.
He created the boxing gloves.
These gloves were called “shock absorbers”, which were used by the students of his boxing academy and which effectively protected them from the inconvenience of black eyes and major injuries, broken jaws and nosebleeds, although they were not always used in the professional ring.
He also created the wooden quadrilaterals and the canvas at the base of the quadrilater. These quadrilaterals were placed at 1.80 meters from the ground. With this I wanted to avoid the invasion of the spectators to the ring when some fight was celebrated in which people invested great amounts of money and that wanted, once advanced the fight, to see to the detail the fighters by which they had bet.
After many years applying the Jack Broughton rule and its successive improvements, in 1867, the rules of the Marquesa de Queensberry, another great boxing enthusiast, were imposed. This new regulation, is the one that established the obligatory use of gloves, prohibited to use techniques of fight in the ring and dictated that the assaults lasted 3 minutes.
Jack Broughton’s passion and fortitude allowed him, instead of falling down and stopping practicing his favorite sport after the deadly event.