How many sports have a reputation for being starred in a Hollywood film which accumulated over $225 million in global box office on a budget less than 1% of that size? As if that were not enough on its own, this 1976 American Sports drama would go on to become one of the most renowned movies of its kind in the late-20th century, and spawn a whole saga consisting of 6 sequels over a period of 40 years following its initial release! The movie? Rocky. The sport? None other than Boxing!
Brief History of Boxing
The earliest recorded history of boxing could be found in the Middle East, around 3000 B.C. At first, the sport was rather raw and simplistic, but over time, variations and inspirations surfaced that would contribute to the development of the modern sport of boxing (One example of a “technological development” is the implementation of hand protection/weaponry, which led to the usage of modern boxing gloves). During the time of the Romans, boxing grew to become a popular spectator sport, often held in arenas and amphitheaters for its raw entertainment value. Unlike modern boxing, the Roman games were, historically, fought “to the death.” However, the sheer brutality of unrefined boxing ultimately resulted in its eventual outlawing, and it would go unnoticed for a time, until a resurrection in England during the 1600s.
With the rise, fall, and subsequent resurgence of popularity in “the fist-fencing” sport, boxing slowly migrated from the Western Roman Empire across Europe to London. In the late 1600s and early 1700s, it began to take hold of the world as a sport, and involved organized, bare-handed combat (known popularly as prizefighting). During the early-mid 18th century, boxing was understandably (and appropriately) messy and uncouth – no such rounds, points, or referees commonly associated with modern boxing existed during this time. However, in 1743, a boxing champion by the name of Jack Broughton developed a systematic series of rules and regulations to “protect” fighters while they were in the ring (death was still, until then, common due to all of the chaos). Under “Broughton’s Rules”, hitting “below the belt” or “while an opponent” was down, was prohibited. Over time, more rulesets, refinements, and modifications were made, resulting in numerous more deviations and diversifying boxing as a competitive sport.
Through the 19th and 20th century, the credibility of boxing waned. As a sport with such a dark, violent background and following, it struggled to gain popularity among common people. Whether by further refinement over time (or by a contrasting increase in inner-human barbarism) boxing has ultimately become one of the most popular sports in the modern world, and has given rise to numerous competitive sport and cultural icons.
What had started in ancient history as a brutal, coarse sport, would, in coming years, would come to mean more than simply striking someone else in the face!