Boxing is a sport involving attack and defense with the fists. Boxers
wear padded gloves and fight bouts of 3 to 15 three-minute rounds, with one
minute intervening between rounds, in a four-roped square ring.
The earliest evidence of boxing as a sport is found in the Mediterranean area from
about 1500 BC. Boxing as a sport had reappeared in England by the early 18th century.
Until nearly the end of the 19th century, gloves were not used, and at first there were no rules.
In 1839 the London Prize Ring rules, the first since Broughton's, were introduced. These rules (revised in
1853) provided that bouts be fought in a 24-foot-square ring with ropes surrounding it. The rules for rounds
and for ending a fight remained the same as Broughton's except that a fighter knocked down had to come to his
feet under his own power. Kicking, gouging, butting, biting, and blows
below the belt were explicitly made fouls. In 1867 the Marquess of Queensberry rules were introduced
The American champion John L. Sullivan was
the last of the great fighters to box under the London Prize Ring rules. The first world champion under the
Marquess of Queensberry rules was James J. ("Gentleman Jim") Corbett, who defeated Sullivan in 1892.
From Sullivan on, the United States became the premier boxing scene
After World War II the sport spread to East Asia and in the 1950s to Africa's newly emergent nations. In the second half of
the 20th century, American domination remained only in the heavyweight division.
Boxing events were held in the Olympic Games from 1904.
The first great period of boxing popularity began in the 1920s.
While boxing at all weights was popular, the heavyweight division
predominated. Jack Dempsey was the first popular idol.
When amateur boxing became popular in the late 19th century, it allowed knockouts (a count of 10 over downed
opponents) but primarily emphasized points (solid blows struck) and decisions rendered by judges. In time,
professional boxing adopted the decision system, so that a fighter can now win by amassing a larger number of
points than his opponent, as well as by knockout.
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