GreenHill BOXING Gloves

The History of Boxing: From Ancient Times to the Modern Day

Boxing is a very popular combat sport that has been around for hundreds of years. Millions of fans worldwide follow this sport, and its fame is continually reaching new heights thanks to both local and international tournaments and many such events where players get to appear and showcase their skills.

Athlete wearing GreenHill boxing gloves

Boxing involves punching combinations, smooth footwork, and fluid upper-body movement to beat your opponent. The matches take place in a ring under the supervision of a referee.

The fighters can only use their hands and cannot hit their opponents below their waistline. These rules make this sport stand out from other combat sports, making it more exciting and fun to watch.

Boxing started to gain popularity about 2700 years ago in ancient Greece, and today it is being played by amateurs and professionals in World Tournaments, Olympic Games, and Commonwealth Events.

woman practicing boxing

In this article, we will look at the history and evolution of this amazing sport from the Greek Civilization to the modern professional boxing tournaments, so stay with us till the end.

The Ancient Greece Olympics

The earliest evidence of boxing as a sport was found in Sumerian artifacts discovered in Iraq that date back to the 3rd millennium BCE. Some relics from Assyria, Babylonia, and other Mesopotamian nations also showed two men engaged in hand-to-hand combat wearing a sort of cover on their fists.

It was in ancient Greece that this sport became more organized and celebrated. In the 23rd Olympiad (688 B.C.), boxing was introduced as a regular sport. During this period, fighters covered their hands with leather thongs to provide protection and inflict maximum damage.

These matches didn’t have rounds, weight divisions, or any other rules in place today. The matches continued until a player was no longer able to fight or they conceded defeat.

The traditional boxing stance was also introduced during this period. It involved moving your lead leg forward slightly, and the lead hand extended as a guard. This allowed the dominant hand to get ready for the strike with full force.

Roman Boxing

Romans were more interested in Gladiator bouts which almost always ended in enslaved people dying. However, they also welcomed boxing and made many modifications to the sport.

mosiac of men boxing in roman times


They invented boxing rings and the players started wearing leather thongs with metal spikes just like gladiators. In 393 AD, combat sports were abolished in Rome. However, between the 12th to 17th centuries, boxing and other fistfighting sports made a comeback in Italy.

Russian Boxing

Russians adopted a specific boxing style where the fighters used the same stance and rules but were bare-knuckled. This was the time when combat sports had almost disappeared from the scene, and prizefighting was getting attention in London.

Russian boxing led to the formation of three types of fistfight sports, i.e., One-on-one, team, and catch-drop fight. The Russian fistfights were hailed in poems, art, literature, and many classic Russian folktales, inspiring millions of people of that era.

Prizefighters of London

In the 16th century, another variation of boxing was seen in London, where the players fought for prize money or trinkets and hence got the name prizefighters. This was a bare-knuckled bout which was first reported in 1681. In 1719, James Figg became the first bare-knuckle boxing champion.

The first ever rule set of boxing was given by Jack Broughton in 1743. Jack was also a bare-knuckle boxing champion who introduced the 30-second knockdown rule.

He also proposed other rules like the prohibition of kicking, eye gouging, head-butting, biting, etc. Most of these rules are still in practice in modern boxing matches.                                        

The Queensberry Rules

The Queensberry Rules were developed in the mid-1800s and are still followed globally. John Chambers developed these rules under the patronage of the Marquess of Queensberry.

According to these rules, matches will take place 24 feet across a square ring, bouts will consist of three-minute rounds, and there will be rest after each round, and after each knockdown, there will be a ten countdown. Grappling and wrestling of any type were also prohibited.

Red Boxing Gloves

Boxing gloves were introduced which made the sport a lot safer. The use of these gloves made matches longer and more strategic. It led to the development of defensive techniques like counterpunching, bobbing, and weaving.   

Modern Professional Boxing

The Queensberry Rules led to the demise of bare-knuckled fighting. There was opposition to this particular rule by John L Sullivan, who was stripped of his title in 1889. He finally agreed to follow the rules and went on to fight James J. Corbet to defend his title.

Eagle Boxing Gloves

By the start of the 20th century, many countries put a ban on this sport for its violent nature. Most matches were organized secretly, and the ones which were open followed very strict rules. This was until Jim Corbet in 1892 in New Orleans, defeated John. L Sullivan became the first heavyweight champion following Queensberry rules.

As modern boxing became more popular in the US, fighters like Terry McGovern, Jack O'Brien, and others rose to the scene. In 1915, Irish immigrants became the dominant element in the US boxing landscape.

women posing with her GreenHill Boxing Gloves

In 1937, Joe Louis became the very first black heavyweight world champion. The end of this century also witnessed many amazing boxers like Mike Tyson, Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, and the great Muhammad Ali.

Modern professional boxing is practiced in the United States, Russia, Mexico, etc., and has greatly influenced pop culture. The matches have become more civilized, and the prizes have increased immensely.

women practising wearing Black GreenHill Boxing Gloves

In 2015 a match between Mayweather and Paquito took place, considered the richest boxing match ever in history. Mayweather supposedly earned about $300 million in this match in a single evening.                              

Final Thoughts 

Boxing is among the most ancient combat sports that is getting more and more popular by the day. Its evolution is unbelievable, and how it has shaped our history and culture is beyond amazing.

Man wearing Blue GreenHill Boxing Gloves

Looking at the history and origin of this sport, you realize how well it has survived both the rises and falls of civilizations and became what it is today. The future of this sport looks quite promising, and we are sure the number of fans and enthusiasts of this great game will only get bigger and bigger.

Visit Green Hill Sports for professional boxing gear and equipment.