|Also known as||Ancient Olympic boxing|
|Country of origin||Greece|
Ancient Greek boxing (Greek : πυγμαχίαpygmachia, "fist fighting") dates back to at least the 8th century BC (Homer's Iliad ), and was practiced in a variety of social contexts in different Greek city-states. Most extant sources about ancient Greek boxing are fragmentary or legendary, making it difficult to reconstruct the rules, customs and history surrounding this activity in great detail. Still, it is clear that gloved boxing bouts were a significant part of ancient Greek athletic culture throughout the early classical period.
There is archeological and artistic evidence of ancient Greek boxing (πύξ - pyxor πυγμή - pygme in Αncient Greek) as early as the Minoan and Mycenaean periods. There are numerous legends about the origins of boxing in Greece. One legend holds that the heroic ruler Theseus invented a form of boxing in which two men sat face to face and beat each other with their fists until one of them was killed. In time, the boxers began to fight while standing and wearing gloves (with spikes) and wrappings on their arms below the elbows, but otherwise they fought naked.
According to the Iliad, Mycenaean warriors included boxing among their competitions honoring the fallen, though it is possible that the Homeric epics reflect later Greek culture. Boxing was among the contests held in memorial of Achilles' slain friend Patroclus, toward the end of the Trojan war. It was in commemoration of Patroclus that the Greeks later introduced boxing (pygme / pygmachia) to the Olympic Games in 688 BCE. Participants trained on punching bags (called a korykos). Fighters wore leather straps (called himantes) over their hands (leaving the fingers free), wrists, and sometimes breast, to protect themselves from injury. There was no protection for the face or head.
The scholar and historian Philostratus maintained that boxing was originally developed in Sparta. The early Spartans believed helmets were unnecessary and boxing prepared them for the inevitable blows to the head they would receive in battle.However, Spartans never participated in the competitive aspect of boxing, believing the means of defeat to be dishonorable.
The style of protection utilized on the hands and knuckles could determine the style of fighting for the competitors. From the time of the Iliad until around 500 BCE, himantes were used as protection for the knuckles and hand. They were thongs of ox hide approximately 3.0–3.7 m (9.8–12.1 ft) long that were wrapped around the hands and knuckles numerous times. The thongs usually had loops in which an athlete could insert four of his fingers and clench them together in a fist. Generally, this was the only form of protection worn by participants from the era of Homer until the end of the fifth century. Classical sources describe these as "soft gloves", though modern study has indicated that these thongs were far from soft and were protection for the knuckles, not to soften the blow to the opponent, much like modern padded gloves, which protect the hand, allowing for harder punches. They can be found on many vases excavated from the fifth and sixth century BCE.
In around 400 BCE sphairai were introduced. The sphairai were very similar to himantes. The only notable difference was that they contained a padded interior when wrapped around the hands and the exterior of the thong was notably more rigid and hard. In addition, "sharp thongs" were introduced during this time period to facilitate greater damage and remained popular up until around 200 CE.
Soon before the implementation of the sphairai, the oxys were introduced to boxing. They consisted of several thick leather bands encircling the hand, wrist, and forearm. A band of fleece was placed on the forearm to wipe away sweat. Leather braces extended up the forearm to give greater support when punching and the knuckles were reinforced with leather as well.
Korykos were the equivalent to modern punching bags. They were used for practice in the Palaestra and were filled with sand, flour, or millet. They were commonly depicted in art depicting boxing of the time.
The currently accepted rules of ancient Greek boxing are based on historical references and images. Because of the few intact sources and references to the sport, the rules can only be inferred.
Unlike modern boxing, the Greeks did not enclose the competitors in a ring to encourage fighting in close quarters. Therefore, most boxers fought defensively as opposed to offensively to encourage patience and caution. In addition, boxing in Ancient Greece was not divided into individual rounds. Competitors fought until finish, usually by surrender or mutual exhaustion. Felled boxers could be attacked without consequence, just as if they were standing.
While the practice of dividing boxers into weight classes is popular in the modern world, it was an unheard of practice for the Greeks. Typically, any man who wished to participate in the event was welcome to regardless of strength or muscle mass, and participants competed with each other through random drawings.
The precise rules of boxing in antiquity cannot be known for certain, and are thus inferred from historical references and images. It is believed that any type of blow with the hand was permitted, though using the hands to gouge at the eyeballs was not. Holding or wrestling one's opponent was also prohibited. If the fight lasted too long due to the tenacity of the competitors, the athletes could choose to exchange blows undefended to speed up the process. Judges probably enforced the rules by beating the offenders with a switch or a whip.
Boxing is a combat sport in which two people, usually wearing protective gloves and other protective equipment such as hand wraps and mouthguards, throw punches at each other for a predetermined amount of time in a boxing ring.
Kickboxing is a stand-up combat sport based on kicking and punching, historically developed from karate mixed with boxing. Kickboxing is practiced for self-defence, general fitness, or as a contact sport.
Muay Thai , sometimes referred to as "Thai boxing", is a martial art and combat sport that uses stand-up striking along with various clinching techniques. This discipline is known as the "art of eight limbs" as it is characterized by the combined use of fists, elbows, knees and shins. Muay Thai became widespread internationally in the late-20th to 21st century, when Westernized practitioners from Thailand began competing in kickboxing and mixed-rules matches as well as matches under muay Thai rules around the world. The professional league is governed by The Professional Boxing Association of Thailand (P.A.T), sanctioned by The Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT).
Pankration was a sporting event introduced into the Greek Olympic Games in 648 BC and was an empty-hand submission sport with few rules. The athletes used boxing and wrestling techniques, but also others, such as kicking, holds, joint-locks, and chokes on the ground, making it similar to modern mixed martial arts. The term comes from the Greek παγκράτιον [paŋkrátion], meaning "all of power," from πᾶν (pan) "all" and κράτος (kratos) "strength, might, power."
Boxing training is the training method that boxers use in order to get more fit for their sport.
The Marquess of Queensberry Rules , also known as Queensbury Rules, are a code of generally accepted rules in the sport of boxing. Drafted in London in 1865 and published in 1867, they were named so as the 9th Marquess of Queensberry publicly endorsed the code, although they were written by a Welsh sportsman named John Graham Chambers. The code of rules on which modern boxing is based, the Queensberry rules were the first to mandate the use of gloves in boxing.
Bare-knuckle boxing is the original form of boxing, closely related to ancient combat sports. It involves two individuals fighting without boxing gloves or other padding on their hands.
Sanda, formerly Sanshou, also known as Chinese boxing or Chinese kickboxing, is the official Chinese full contact combat sport. Sanda is a fighting system which was originally developed by the Chinese military based upon the study and practices of traditional kung fu and modern combat fighting techniques; it combines full-contact kickboxing, which includes close range and rapid successive punches and kicks, with wrestling, takedowns, throws, sweeps, kick catches, and in some competitions, even elbow and knee strikes.
John Lawrence Sullivan, known simply as John L. among his admirers, and dubbed the "Boston Strong Boy" by the press, was an American boxer recognized as the first heavyweight champion of gloved boxing, de facto reigning from February 7, 1882 to September 7, 1892. He is also generally recognized as the last heavyweight champion of bare-knuckle boxing under the London Prize Ring Rules, being a cultural icon of the late 19th century America, arguably the first boxing superstar and one of the world's highest-paid athletes of his era. Newspapers' coverage of his career, with the latest accounts of his championship fights often appearing in the headlines, and as cover stories, gave birth to sports journalism in the United States and set the pattern internationally for covering boxing events in media, and photodocumenting the prizefights.
A punching bag is a sturdy bag designed to be repeatedly punched. A punching bag is usually cylindrical, and filled with various materials of corresponding hardness.
Joseph Bartlett Choynski was an American boxer who fought professionally from 1888 to 1904.
A cestus or caestus is an ancient battle glove, sometimes used in pankration. They were worn like modern boxing gloves, but were made with leather strips and sometimes filled with iron plates or fitted with blades or spikes, and used as weapons.
A combat sport, or fighting sport, is a competitive contact sport that usually involves one-on-one combat. In many combat sports, a contestant wins by scoring more points than the opponent or by disabling the opponent. Combat sports share a long pedigree with the martial arts.
Boxing gloves are cushioned gloves that fighters wear on their hands during boxing matches and practices. Unlike "fist-load weapons" which were designed as a lethal weapon, modern boxing gloves are non-lethal, designed to protect both the opponent's head and the fighter's hand during a bout. Sparring and other forms of boxing training have their own specialized gloves.
A hand wrap or a wrist wrap or Kumpur is a strip of cloth used by boxers to protect the hand and wrist against injuries induced by punching. It is wrapped securely around the wrist, the palm, and the base of the thumb, where it serves to both maintain the alignment of the joints, and to compress and lend strength to the soft tissues of the hand during the impact of a punch.
Throughout the history of gloved boxing styles, techniques and strategies have changed to varying degrees. Ring conditions, promoter demands, teaching techniques, and the influence of successful boxers are some of the reasons styles and strategies have fluctuated.
Athletics were an important part of the cultural life of Ancient Greeks. Depictions of boxing and bull-leaping can be found back to the Bronze Age. Buildings were created for the sole use of athletics including stadions, palaestra, and gymnasiums. Starting in the Archaic Period, Panhellenic Games, including the Olympic Games, begin taking place each year. These games gave people from all over Greece the chance to gain fame for their athletic prowess. Athletics in Greece became one of the most commonly depicted scenes of everyday life in their art.
This marble fragment of a funerary stele depicting a boxer is dated at circa 540 BC. The individual's depiction as a boxer is apparent in his broken nose, cauliflower ear, and the strapped wrist that he holds aloft – these straps were used by the Ancient Greeks to secure knuckle-guards for boxing competitions. It is considered one of the earliest examples of a highly individualized athlete depiction in Ancient Greek sculpture, and "nearer to a portrait than any other work surviving from Archaic Greece". It utilizes relief carving techniques to characterize a subject long before high degrees of individual characterization were apparent in freestanding sculpture.
The Boxing Siana Cup, is an Archaic vase that is part of the University Museums at the University of Mississippi. The vase is from the region of Attica and is dated to be around 560 BC – 550 BC. The design style of the vase is Attic black-figure and features a scene on the front and back of the cup and one on the interior. The artist of the vase is considered to be the Sandal Painter.
This article presents a chronology of sporting development and events from time immemorial until the end of the 10th century CE. The major sporting event of the ancient Greek and Roman periods was the original Olympic Games, which were held every four years at Olympia for over a thousand years. Gladiatorial contests and chariot racing were massively popular. Some modern sports such as archery, athletics, boxing, football, horse racing and wrestling can directly trace their origins back to this period while later sports like cricket and golf trace their evolution from basic activities such as hitting a stone with a stick.
Media related to Ancient Greek boxing at Wikimedia Commons