What makes Boxing so important today ?
Boxing is one of the most popular combat sport in the world. Also called the noble art it is a fighting system basic and simple but very efficient. It is a striking sport that only allows hand striking.
Also called Western Boxing, today it is one of the most viewed combat sport in the world.
People from all horizon enjoy watching boxing, not only martial art fanatic.
Boxing has a long history, charismatic legends, feuds and fights that kept spectator entertained for the past 70 years. Ask anyone who Muhammad Ali is and they will know.
History of Boxing
Boxing during the antiquity
Pygmachia, also called ancient Greek boxing, is the first form of boxing practiced in history, or at least the only one we have proof of.
Its cousin, the pankration was a fighting sport very close from what’s MMA today. That’s why one of the first modern MMA organization took the name of Pancrace in Japan.
Today, this two combat discipline born 2500 years ago are everywhere in the media. They are by far the most popular in the fighting world.
Pygmachia just like boxing only allowed the use of fists and only striking. Combat ended in one round by Knockout.
It appeared for the first time in 688 BC and occurred mostly during the Olympic games in Greece.
Boxers were using Himantes to protect their knuckles and hands. They were wraps of ox hide wrapped around the hands and knuckles multiple times. It was generally the only equipment boxers were wearing. Contrary to modern day boxing gloves that are tick and padded, Himantes were not soft and were only there to protect hands and knuckles, not to soften the blow for the opponent.
England and Prizefighting
We have to wait the XVI century for boxing to reappear in England. It was called prizefighting and was bare knuckles fighting.
As swords start to disappear, fencing become less popular and fists reappear as a weapon of choice for dual or entertainment.
This boxing matches are extremely chaotic, had no rules, no weight division, no round, no countdown etc. It’s not rare that people die in the ring.
In 1743 Jack Broughton, a famous champion at the time, put in places rules after unintentionally killing an opponent. He invented “mufflers”, the ancestors of modern boxing gloves, that were used in training and exhibition matches. The most notable change to the rules was to stop hitting the opponent when he was on the ground. A boxer also had now 30 seconds to get back up once downed.
He was introduced in the boxing hall of fame as “The Father of the English School of Boxing”.
New rules are redacted in 1865. Bare knuckle fighting becomes forbidden and fighters have to wear padded gloves.
Choking its opponent and punching him when he is out becomes forbidden.
But the most important is that fights have now a timer. Fights to a knockout are now forbidden. It’s not necessary to end your opponent to win the fight.
This rules makes impossible fights like the one between Joe Jeanette and Sam McVey. It lasted 49 rounds, so about 2 hours and a half of fighting.
The number of round was 15 until the 30 march of 1989. But during a fight between Duk Koo Kim and Ray Mancini, a tragic incident happened. At the end of the 14th round the korean fell under a terrible straight cross from Mancini. It will unfortunately be Kim’s last fight as he will die 4 days later.
This terrible ending has consequences on the rules. The number of rounds go to 12, and a 10 sec break timer is introduced when the referee decides it (after a down or when a fighter looks unresponsive). Medical controls are also made mandatory.
A fundamental fighting style
The use of fist in a fight is a fundamental element in almost every striking discipline, except a couple of martial art that focus more on the legs (like Taekwondo). Western Boxing is a good basic sport that can be inserted in lots of different fighting style. Kickboxing, Muay Thai, Savate or MMA for example will benefit greatly from boxing elements.
Other self defense art like Krav Maga also integrate boxing to allow their user to spar and train to receive shots.
Knowing well how to use fists is one the most important factor is any fighting system allowing strike. The use of fist is almost always dominant on the use of legs. Indeed a punch use way less energy that a kick and takes less times. It will therefore end up getting use more in a fight allowing both. It will allows the fighter to stay consistent during the whole fight. It’s also a really good way to keep a rhythm going by using jabs.
The guard is very different in western boxing that in other form of boxing allowing kicks.
First, boxer tends to spread legs more in their basics stance. It allows the boxer to be more stable to receive shots easier. In kickboxing for example, a tighter stance allows to throw kick kickers but makes it difficult to stay stable after a shot.
Also because of the use of fist only, reach distance between fighters is shorter. Being able to close the distance, throw a punch or a combination then get out becomes even more important than in other fighting style.
Being closer also implicate a tighter guard as punch will come faster and from angle more difficult to see at close range. That’s why we see guards like Mike Tyson Peek-A-Boo that’s extremely defensive.
On the other hand, not having to worry about kicks / knees and elbows allows some extremely fast and talented fighters to drop their guards almost entirely and rely on slipping, dodging and countering. Floyd Mayweather Jr use of the Philly Shell is a very good demonstration of this concept.
Boxing SHoes, short, jock strap, gloves and mouthguard compose the basics equipment for every boxer. Headgear usually depends of the age bracket or of the type of fight. It’s usually mandatory in amateur fights and not allowed in professionals fights.
There are 18 categories in professional boxing. The high number of categories (comparing to MMA where there are only 13 for example) allows fair fights for boxers. It also reduce intensive weight cut and the medical risk it causes.
End of a fight
The principal goal is to knockout your opponent during 12 rounds of three minutes each (for professional fight). There is a break of one minute between each round.
If a fighter is unable to start fighting again after being down for 10 seconds the fight is stopped. A down is either caused by the opponent or can be given by the referee if the fighter show signs of being almost unable to keep the fight going. The referee can also freely stops the fight if in his opinion it’s becoming dangerous for one of the fighter to keep going.
Who determine the winner in a boxing match ?
If the fight arrives till the end, three judge are going to decide who the winner is. In order to do so they all score each round.
- Judge scores on a 10 point scales.
- Most round will end up being 10-9 with the more dominant boxer receiving 10 points and the other 9.
- When a boxer gets a down, he loses a point. If he gets two down he loses two points. If both fighters get downed they cancel each other out
- If the round is even the judge can give them 10-10
- The referee can take down point for fouls
How do judges decide who is the winner ?
To decide who is dominant, judges look for the followings :
- Effective aggression : Aggression can give an impression of dominance, but until the punches are actually landing it is not effective
- Ring generalship : which fighter controls the ring and enforces his game plan
- Defense : How the fighter is answering to aggression. How well he is blocking, slipping, parrying
- Hard and clean punches : Judge look for shots that actually do damage. If a fighter receives lots of hard shots but defends well and prevent its opponent to land clean punches, it’s very possible that the aggressor lose more energy than the defender
What are the possible outcome of a boxing fight ?
All of this components can lead to this different case (let’s take Boxer A against boxer B for sake of example)
- Unanimous decision : All three judge give victory to boxer A. Boxer A then win the fight by unanimous decision
- Majority decision : Two judge give victory to boxer A, One judge give a draw to Boxer B. Boxer A win the fight by majority decision
- Split decision : Two judge give victory to boxer A, one judge give victory to Boxer B. Boxer A win the fights by split decision.
- Unanimous draw: the three judge score a draw.
- Majority draw: One judge give victory to boxer A, two other score a draw
- Split draw : One judge give victory to boxer A, One judge give victory to boxer B, the third one score a draw
Boxing organisations and governing bodies
There are 4 major boxing organisation today.
WBA, WBC, WBO and IBF are the four main sanctioning bodies. They are all for profit organisation (contrary to most sport federation). They each have their own world champion in division.
At the beginning of the 20th century there was only one big organisation. In 1927 two organisation, the New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) and the National Boxing Association (NBA) starts to give differents title. Each organization is hunting for more money and influence.
In 1962, the World Boxing Association (WBA) is created to have the monopoly on the world boxing. Finally fan will be able to know who is the really the best boxer. Unfortunately one year later Jose Sulaiman creates the World Boxing Council (WBC) and integrate most of the other organization present outside North America.
In 1983 the IBF is created by Bob Lee that wants to be president of a boxing federation after failing to become the WBA president. At the beginning the IBF is called the USBA and is focused mainly in the US. But the success of boxing in the world push them to change its name. The IBF is focused a lot in the end of the 1990s in corruption scandals.
Finally in 1988 the World Boxing Organization (WBO) is created by south american businessmen after disaccord with WBA.
As a summary, the WBA is the oldest of the federation. The WBC, WBO and IBF have been created to be concurrent and share the huge profits generated by the world of boxing.
How are named the different boxing champions ?
A boxer that holds belt through WBA and other boxing organisation is usually called a Super Champion.
A boxer that holds more than one world title is called an unified champion.
An undisputed champion holds all the major belt in that division.
Over where you belt come from, what really counts is how you got your belt and who did you take it from. That’s where the respect comes from.
The lineal champion is called “the man who beat the man”. It’s a concept developed by fan dissatisfied by having 4 organization recognizing different champions. It means that the champion is the one who beat the previously undefeated champion, whether he got the belt or not.
Floyd “Money” Mayweather
Floyd Mayweather Jr has an impressive record of 50 wins, 0 draws, 0 loss in its professional career. He is often referred as the most accurate puncher and best defensive boxer in History. He held world title in five different weight class and the lineal championship in four weight classes.
During his career he has generated approximately 1.67 billion in revenue and approximately 23.8 million Pay per view boys, surpassing every other boxers. He competed from 1996 to 2007 firstly, then 2009 to 2015 and made a one fight comeback in 2017 in a very public fight against the MMA fighter Conor Mc Gregor.
He is also known for diverse scandals such as domestic violence and tax evasion that have thrown shadow on its career. Despite his perfect record he usually plays the bad guy in fights.
Everyone knows Muhammad Ali, a legend that travels through time and the boxing world to become a real icon.
Despite being a heavy weight his boxing style was visually very appealing with a quick and light footwork. His style was very different from other boxer during its time. He was also very different for his charisma and its capacity to generate interest for his fights.
He was very quick and light on his feet hence his catchphrase “float like a butterfly, sting like a be”. He was a specialist of counter punch, doing what the press called “phantom punch”. His opponent would over commit trying to catch up to his quick footwork just to be countered by a punch almost none could see.
Ali was also known for the Ali shuffle, a move that he used both as a taunting move and also to retake control of his rhythm.
Ali also made boxing more entertaining, trash talking his opponent and putting himself in situations where it was really hard to lose. He is also known for his position on the Vietnam war, refusing to be drafted in the army and losing his heavyweight title in the process.
Dutch professional female boxer and kickboxer, she was nicknamed “The Most Dangerous Woman in the World”. She started kickboxing when she was 15 and finished her professional career at 27 with a record of 36 – 0 (25 KO), winning four different worlds title in the process.
She then went on a boxing carreer until 2004, ending at 17 – 0 (14 KO).
She is also known for playing in the movie Million Dollars Baby.
Interesting numbers about Boxing
- 7 hours and 19 minutes is the time that the fight between Andy Bowen and Jack Burke lasted in 1893. It ended up in a No Contest at the end of 111th round.
- 48 years old is the age when Bernard Hopkins became a World champion. An inspiring story by this great champion.
- 17 years 5 months 21 days is the age of Wilfred Benitez when he becomes World champion of “super legers” in 1975.
- 8 is the number of category in which the french boxer George Carpentier fought.
- 132 247 is the number of people presents for the boxing match between Julio Cesar Chavez and Greg Haugen in 1993. Chavez won that fight.
- 4 is the number of seconds required by Mike Collins to KO Pat Brownson in 1947.
- 131 is the number of KO that Archie Moore, an ex Light Heavyweight world champion accomplished during its carrier
- 20 is the number of second that took Gerald McClellan to take the world champion title to Jay Bell in 1993.
- 600 is the number of millions of dollar that has been generated by the fight between Mayweater and Pacquiao in 2015.
- 256 is the number of defeats of the English boxer Peter Buckley in 300 fights. Never give up.
Who invented the mouth guard ?
It’s Jack Marks, a dentist from London in 1902. The first professional boxer to use it is Ted Lewis, an English boxer. He was champion of Europe and World champion. He fought more than 300 fights for 232 victories.
In 1947 Sugar Ray Robinson has to defend its title again Jim Doyle. A few days before this fight, Robinson dreams that he kills his opponent. He tries to cancel the fights. Unfortunately the fight can’t be cancelled and happens. In the 8th round Doyle is knocked out and dies a few hours later.
Concentration camp fighter
Victor Younki is a Jewish boxer world champion during world war II. in 1943 he is deported to Auschwitz where he is forced to fight. The winner gets an extra food ration and the loser dies. He win this way more than 140 fight by knock out. He unfortunately dies the 22 January 1945. Five days later the camp is freed.
Throwing the towel todays refers to the act of giving up. In boxing the coach throws the towel in the ring to signify he and its boxer are forfeiting the match.
George Foreman who used to be a world champion is estimated to be worth more than 250 M dollars. The majority of his money does not come from boxing, but from his image for the George Foreman Grill sold more than 100 millions time.
In 1983 Luis Resto fights against the undefeated Billy Collins that he is a boxer with a lot of potential, rising star of the boxing world. Before the fight, Resto Coach Panama Lewis take the foam out of its glove and replace it by plaster. Luis Resto win the fight but his opponent gets irreversible injuries.
He loses his left eye and die a few months later in a car accident. Luis Resto is banned from the boxing world for life.