Boxing – Complete reading to know more about the game
The human tendency to finding the art in fighting went back to a long time in history. A Sumerian relief which belonged to, as back as the third millennium BC, depicted boxing.
Some other depictions from Mesopotamia and Asia Minor also indicated the boxing look-alike game. And it belonged to a later 2nd millennium BC.
The next evidence from Egyptian Thebes shows a clear evolution of the game as it depicted boxers with spectators. In the depictions, the boxers were with bare-fists or had a band supporting the wrist.
The evidence from Minoan Crete shows fist fighting with the use of gloves and this earliest evidence belonged to 1500 – 1400 BC.
There are lots of evidence available to show the presence of various types of boxing in ancient India.
The Vedic epics, Rig Veda and Ramayana has a reference for ‘musti-yuddha.’ – a variant of boxing.
Another famous epic, Mahabaratha, describes two boxers with clenched fists. And they fight with kicks, finger strikes, knee strikes, and headbutts. ‘Niyuddham’ is another variant in which they fought unto the death of a fighter.
In historic times, the ruler Rudradaman, who belonged to Western Satraps, was a person who mastered many arts and martial arts, including boxing. In addition, there are numerous references to musti-yuddha in the 18th-century Sikh text Gurbilas Shemi.
Ancient Greece which was a breeding ground for many popular sports also patronized boxing and the game enjoyed consistent popularity.
In 688 BC, the game entered the Olympics for the first time. In the game, the boxers wore leather thongs around their hands for protection and they fought until anyone of the fighter accepted the defeat. And there were no weight categories and heavyweights dominated the game.
In ancient Rome, the boxers wrapped leather thongs around their fists for protection and when they began to use harder leather, the thongs became a weapon.
Like many combative sports, boxing also involved slaves, combat unto death, and brutality. In 393 AD, the government abolished it due to excessive brutality. Then, only during the 16th-century boxing came back to the sports arena.
Way of Playing Boxing
The objective of the game is to knock out the opponent so that he/she can’t stand up until the referee counts to ten. As the game has a specified number of rounds, the winner is also decided by the points the boxers scored.
The boxers have to undergo certain routines, before the start of the match.
As the game is divided into many categories based on the weight, the boxer should undergo weight check-up to place him/her in the right category.
Every professional boxer keeps a passbook which is the identification of a boxer.
It is the authentication for the details it contains and there is information about the weight, the opponents and the results of the matches played.
After the weighing is done for the right category, a physician examines the boxers for the capability to fight. And the routine involves checking the blood pressure, breathing and conditions of the face and hands.
It is to ascertain that the boxer has followed the rules and procedures. Usually, the judge is the signing authority and by signing the wraps he/she gives his approval.
Then the boxer has to meet the host, who gives either red or blue gloves which depends on the corner the boxer got.
After the boxers get into the ring and when they are waiting at the posts, the judge comes for a final check-up. He/she checks for the wearing of a mouthpiece and the correct size of the gloves.
The sign to start
To start the match, the boxers will be called to the center of the ring after the introduction. They touch the gloves as a sign of sportsmanship and return to the corners. Then they wait for the bell to mark the beginning of the fight.
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The boxing ring dimensions
Earlier, boxing was played on the circular area and so the area earned the name, boxing ring. With the evolution of the game, the area became a square box and it is commonly named as ‘squared circles.’
The boxing ring consists of a raised platform that is square in shape and the inner playing area is bound by ropes. The platform is usually at a height of 100cm from the floor.
The outer square has a width of 25’7” (780 cm) and the inner width bounded by ropes tied to the poles measures 20’ (610 cm). And the perimeter width between the inner and outer square measures 33.5” (85 cm).
The surface of the ring
And the surface of the boxing ring has 1” (25mm) thick padding and a stretched canvas covers it. Only suitable materials with soft quality and elasticity like felt and rubber are in use.
The canvas that covers the entire surface is made of non-slip material and the prescribed color is Pantone blue 299.
Each boxer and the team will be at the opposite poles of the ring i.e) at the blue or red corner. And the remaining two corners are marked as white corners.
Four separate ropes of 4 cm thickness cover the boxing ring, on each side of the corner posts.
The four ropes are at 40cm, 70cm, 100cm and 130cm from the canvas and thick padding covers the ropes.
The tension of the top two ropes is kept tight while the two ropes at the bottom are in not too tight condition.
There are three sets of steps present in the boxing ring.
Among them, two sets are at opposite corners for the use of boxers and support staff. And the one set of steps in another corner is for the use of referee and ringside physician.
Though there are variations in the rules that govern boxing, the Marquess of Queensberry rules governs boxing in general from its publication in the year 1867.
Each round in a boxing match extends up to three-minutes and a match consists of 9 to 12 rounds. In between rounds, a minute is allowed, and the boxers get advice and attention from the coach and the staff.
A referee who stands in the boxing ring controls the conduct of the boxers, implement the rules to assess the ability of the boxers to fight safely, rules on fouls and rules on knock-out.
And three judges are present at ringside to assign points to the boxers based on punches, defense, knockdowns, hugging and other measures.
A boxer is assigned a corner in the ring and where his/her coach and other aides give advice and service.
In the matches, where the boxers endure the predetermined rounds, the judges decide the winner based on the scores. The match is said to be ‘go the distance’.
When a match comes to an end by knock-out and before the completion of predetermined rounds, the match is said to be ‘inside the distance’.
If a fighter gets knocked out during the fight the referee begins to count until the boxer returns to his/her feet and continues to play. The boxer should not have fallen because of a slip and any of the body parts other than feet should not touch the canvas floor.
If the knocked-out boxer is unable to stand up when the referee completes the counting, the other player becomes the winner by knockout.
When a player is unable to continue due to injuries or other reasons, it is judged by the referee, fight doctor or a fighter’s corner and a ‘technical knock-out’ will be given.
In some places, ‘three knockdown rule’ prevails in which three knockdowns in given round results in TKO. In addition, a ‘standing eight’ count rule also applies in which the referee counts eight to decide the fitness of the boxer to play further.
During the game, the boxers should not hit below the belt of the opponent. Additionally holding, tripping, pushing, biting or spitting should be avoided. A boxer should not hit the groin area and he should not cause pain or injury.
The boxers should not kick, head-butt or hit and they should not use any part of the arm other than the knuckles of a closed fit. And also, they should not use elbow, shoulder, forearm, wrist, other parts of the hand and should not hit with the open hand.
Moreover, they should not hit at the back of the head, neck or the kidneys. And also, the boxers should not hold the ropes during punching. In addition, the boxers should not hold the opponents and should not duck below the belt of the opponent.
If the boxers are in a ‘clinch’ in which, a boxer wraps the arms of the opponent and holds to create a pause, the referee will break it and the players must take a full step back before resuming play.
When a boxer is knocked out, the other boxer should move to the neutral corner of the ring until the referee resume the match.
The referee may issue a warning, reduce score and disqualify a boxer for violations of the rules. The referee decides the action in accordance with the seriousness of the foul. Similarly, an intentional foul committed by a boxer may result in the disqualification of the offender.
A boxer gets up to five minutes to recover from an accidental low-blow. Then he/she will get the exit by knock out rule if the boxer is unable to continue.
Injuries happen during the match that may result in the ‘no-contest’ or the referee will make a decision if enough rounds i.e) four or five rounds have passed.
In boxing, the punches with knuckle side of the fists that hit the body of the opponent above the belt or head, are the scoring punches.
In scoring, the number of punches, aggression of the play, control of the ring, fighting spirit and the amount of damage play an important role. And also, fouls affect the scoring considerably.
The four criteria of scoring are clean punching, effective aggressiveness, ring generalship, and defense.
The scoring system in use in professional boxing is the 10-Point Must System.
In this scoring system, judges score on a 10-point scale. And most rounds end in 10-9 scoring with the dominant boxer scoring 10 points.
A boxer loses a point when knocked down. Further, the player loses two points when knocked down twice. However, the knockdowns cancel each other if the players get equal knockdowns.
If a fighter completely dominates the round but without scoring a knockdown, a judge would score the round as 10-8.
If a judge assesses both boxers as completely even, they receive 10 points each And the players lose points for intentional and unintentional fouls. The referee issues warning in case of unintentional fouls.
When all three judges are in accordance, they declare a boxer as a winner. A boxer also becomes a winner by receiving more points than the opponent. But, when the majority of the judges call for a tie, the match will end in a draw.
The four possible situations to end the match are
Unanimous decision − All judges are in agreement and declare the boxer who scores higher points as a winner.
Split decision − The judges not in agreement and two of the three judges support one boxer while the remaining one supports the other boxer.
Majority decision − Two judges support one boxer while the other judge draws the match.
Draw − The judges are not in agreement and each one of the judges holds different views. Then none of the boxers will be declared a winner.
The judges deduct points for committing fouls. They also disqualify the players for committing a serious foul or repeating a foul.
As per the rules, boxers should not
- Strike the opponent below the belt
- Strike when the opponent is down on the canvas
- Kick the opponent
- Strike with elbows, forearms or the inside of the hand
- Head-butt, bite ears or poke the eye with a thumb
- Grab onto the ropes
- Wrestle, grapple or hold the opponent excessively
Boxers at the international level play the amateur boxing in many events like the Olympic Games, Pan American Games, and the Commonwealth games.
Usually, the bouts are short in duration and fighters wear protective headgear. Finally, the judges use the score to decide the winner. In the match, every punch that landed on the head or the torso of a boxer yields a point.
It’s the duty of the referee to monitor the legality of the play and to assure the playing of legal punches.
The other famous name for the game is prizefighting. In the early 20th century, when boxing became a regulated sport, professional boxing entered into the boxing arena.
The matches in professional boxing last longer as boxers play a number of rounds, which depend on the nature of the fight.
Boxers playing professional boxing don’t use protective gears and they get more damage than the amateur players. Though it seems brutal, it has more fan following than amateur boxing.
There is no, one controlling body for boxing at the international level.
In 1920, the two organizations, the National Boxing Association – a private body and the New York State Athletic Commission, a state agency were established in the United States.
In Europe, the ruling body was the International Boxing Union, which became the European Boxing Union in the year 1948.
The World Boxing Council was formed in the year 1960 and the National Boxing Association changed its name to World Boxing Association (WBA).
Further, the International Boxing Federation (IBF) was established in the year 1983.
With the evolution of the game of boxing, many weight divisions came into existence. These weight divisions which emerged in the United States and in the UK tried to eliminate the handicap of smaller contestants.
Now there are 17 weight classes that have the recognition of boxing organizations.
minimumweight, 105 pounds (48 kg)
light flyweight, 108 pounds (49 kg)
flyweight, 112 pounds (51 kg)
super flyweight, 115 pounds (52 kg)
bantamweight, 118 pounds (53.5 kg)
super bantamweight, 122 pounds (55 kg)
featherweight, 126 pounds (57 kg)
super featherweight, 130 pounds (59 kg)
lightweight, 135 pounds (61 kg)
super lightweight, 140 pounds (63.5 kg)
welterweight, 147 pounds (67 kg)
super welterweight, 154 pounds (70 kg)
middleweight, 160 pounds (72.5 kg)
super middleweight, 168 pounds (76 kg)
light heavyweight, 175 pounds (79 kg)
cruiserweight, 200 pounds (91 kg)
Though the above weight limits are common, we can observe some variations in the weight limits in the Olympics and in women boxing. The weight limits also vary for amateur boxing competitions.
Boxing Styles and Techniques
Pure Boxer / Counter Puncher
The boxers use their smartness in the ring to maintain a safe distance from the opponent. And they rightly decide the moment to attack. These types of boxers are examples to show the embodiment of the science of boxing.
They prefer to fight defensively and have the ability to control the fight to their advantage. Along with this advantage, they have great footwork, reflexes, timing and ring intelligence.
These types of boxers have similar traits of pure boxers but have the punching power in addition. They utilize it for their advantage to break the opponents slowly or knock down the opponents in a single well placed punch.
But if the fighters rely too much on their punching power, the same will get them into trouble
Brawler / Slugger
These players lack any of the skills which pure boxers and boxer-puncher possess. As they lack one or more skills from great footwork, defensive abilities, ring smarts, and speed, they use aggression or relentless pressure to overpower the opponent.
This style of playing makes the boxers prone to receive counter punches and they should have the ability to tolerate punches.
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In general, there are two boxing stances in use. Those are the Orthodox stance and the Southpaw stance.
In the common orthodox stand, the left foot of the boxers is their lead and it is opposite in the case of Southpaw stance.
The stance a boxer adopts depends on the style he/she chooses. For example, pure boxers/ counter punchers sometimes keep their hands low to tempt the opponent to hit and miss, and they strike the opening quickly.
On the other hand, brawlers tend to keep their hands up. They always tempt to cover the faces as they don’t have reflexes to avoid punches by moving their feet or body.
There are five main punches:
It’s the most important punch in boxing and players use the lead hand from a stance positive. It allows a boxer to set up power punches and keeps the opponent at a distance. Depending on the boxers, the jab is powerful or just pawing.
It is a straight punch and a boxer throws his backhand from a stance position. As it travels in a straight line, it hits the target quicker.
It is a semicircular punch that lands at the opponent’s side and it generates a lot of power which increases the chances of a knockdown. There is a chance for the knockout as the opponent can’t see the punch coming sometimes.
A boxer strikes this punch from the bottom. When the opponent puts his/her head too low or in front of their lead foot, there is a chance to execute the uppercut. It is also risky as missing it will get the boxer into off balance and open for counter punches.
A boxer uses his backhand to throw this punch and it travels over the head in a looping fashion. As it comes from a distance it is easy to see the punch and so it requires good timing to land correctly.
The defending boxer relies on the footwork to avoid punches and he/she needs quick feet to bounce in to attack and then bounce out to defend. It is the way of defending but it requires a lot of energy.
It requires good reflexes and it involves the moving of hips and shoulders to avoid a punch that comes quickly towards the boxer.
Bobbing and Weaving
In this technique, to avoid punches, a boxer has to move his/her sideways and should bend the knees. Then the boxer should get back to a position to give a punch.
Blocking and Parrying
In blocking, a boxer needs to take punches on the shoulders and arms. On the other hand, a boxer keeping the hands to slap punches away is called parrying. These techniques need good reflexes.
Clinching / Holding
In this technique, a boxer gets close to the opponent. Then the boxer ties the hands of the opponent which makes it difficult for them to throw the punches.
This temporary defense gives precious time to recover and some boxers use it as a style even though they are not hurt.
Different organizations conduct boxing tournaments at a professional or amateur level.
Amateur boxing tournaments
Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions
Golden Gloves Association of America conducts this tournament and organizes tournaments in different states. And then the winners in the state compete at the national level to decide the winner.
Gloves of Gold
Mexico organizes ‘Guantes De Oro’ tournament which means ‘Gloves of Gold’
A non-profit organization that promotes Olympic-style boxing in America. It is overseen by the United States Olympic Committee, and its rules are set by the International Boxing Association.
Professional boxing tournaments
World Boxing Association (WBA)
It’s a popular tournament and the boxing organization awards the WBA world championship title.
World Boxing Council (WBC)
It’s the most prestigious organization for boxing and has more than 140 member countries. The flags of the countries have representation on the awarding belt.
World Boxing Organization (WBO)
It is the organization which recognizes professional boxing world champions.
International Boxing Federation (IBF)
This organization gives the opportunity to the young boxers to participate as it creates many regional titles throughout the united states.
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