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History of Boxing

When one says box, most people envision a fistfight of two sharp guys (and possibly women) in the ring bounded by ropes. And then also the legends such as Muhammad Ali, Rocky Marciano, Max Schmeling, Joe Louis, Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis and brothers Vladimir and Vitaly Klitschko. All of them are sports heroes of the 20th century. But boxing has a much deeper history; it exists more than four thousand years. No wonder, fist fights have alwaysbelonged to men; it's just about when they first appeared on the first record …

What was boxing in antiquity

The old stone slab was discovered in what is now Iraq, which depicts two men preparing to fight, is old as much as seven millennia. However, the first extant scene of the actual combat comes from a later period - from the third millennium BC. Archaeologists found it in ruins of the Sumerian shrine. Even the first evidence of the use of boxing gloves comes from antiquity. That one, originating from Sardinia, is true only on the assumption that the statues of men (age about 2000 to 1000 BC) with glovesmay be regarded asBoxers. A Minoan fresco from Crete (1500 - 900 BC), which clearly shows two warriors in the fist match, seems to be more evidential.

Boxing is popular even among ancient Greeks, who called it by the term Pygmy and included this discipline into the Olympic Games in the year 668 BC. Onomastos of Smyrna became the first champion. At that time, training resembled the current boxing and athletes pounded onto the leather bag, even with “gloves.”However, matches took place without them, even though later combatants began bandagingtheir handswith straps with braided metal plates, pins and balls.

Boxing gained popularity even in the Roman Empire both in the form of duels to the death, and as an athletic entertainment of upper layers members. As a fun in folk festivals it has remained popular throughout the Medieval. However, golden times of Olympic Matches were long gone.

                                   Return to the limelight, fencing with fists

Not until the late of the 17th and early of the 18thcentury boxing matches began gaining fame again. It happened in 1719 in the British Isles, where also the first heavyweight champion James Figg came from. This tall gentleman first came up with the idea to fence without weapons just with bare hands. He even opened a school of a noble way of defence in London, and formed the first rules, opening up the way for modern boxing.

On 17 February 1741 became an important date in the pioneer days of modern boxing. That day the legendary fighterJack Broughton knocked down his sparring partner George Stevenson, hitting himso hard that he died of his injuries. That is why two years later new rules initiated by Broughton, who was shaken by his sparring partner´s death and also invented the boxing gloves, were accepted.

The rules were obviously transcribed in the coming years; among the most important ones belong regulations by the Marquis of Queensberry dating back to 1866. The use of gloves became a condition,the length of rounds was set at 3 minutes and the Referees scoring were introduced. Lots of these rules apply up topresent days.

                                               The golden era of boxing

The twentieth century was the time of creating true sports heroes. Sport was increasingly gaining its popularity, which of course applied also to boxing. In the twenties, for example, the legendary champion Jack Dempsey along with his manager Jack Kearns and promoter Tex Rixard earned $ 8.4 million in just five duels in the years of 1921 to 1927. Battles of the prize-fighters, who became pure professionals, just enjoyed an enormous interest. First organization were formed to grant Boxers championship: New York State Athletic Commission (1920, which joined the World Boxing Council founding in 1963) and the National Boxing Association (1921, since 1962 the World Boxing Association).

Also other boxing heroes were conquering fame. Memorable are the two matches of Max Schmeling with Joe Louis in thirties. Each of the athletes won one victory, and both strongly enlisted in the history of this rough sport. Louis, who reigned in the next decade, is even sometimes referred to as the best Boxer of history.

For someone else, nonetheless,Rocky Marciano, a never defeated hero of the fifties, might be the greatest Boxer ever. Or for example Cassius Clay, who is better known as Muhammad Ali. For many people he is just a symbol of the attractive world of professional boxing. And there were also Joe Frazier, George Foreman followed by Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis, and brothers Vladimir and Vitaly Klitschko…

                                               How was it with the Czech box?

The Czech boxing began relatively modestly and with the help of the United States. After the World War I Joe Jahelka returned home from America and startedgiving advices and experience from the American ring. Thanks to Jiří Hojer, Vaclav Pondělíček, Emanuel Hervert and František Malínský the Czechoslovak Union of ProfessionalsBoxers was formedand the first Czech boxing rules were set. Despite that the professional boxing was not the best. There were scarcematches and the public just started getting used to boxing matches. Yet even then Czechoslovakia had a boxing star. František Růžička, aka Frank Rose, could treat his popularity and his position, even in the film. He was also popular abroad.

Jan Heřmánek became our first Boxer, who won a silver medal at the Olympic Games (in 1928 in Amsterdam). And what about the remaining Czechoslovak heroes? Julius Torma won the gold medal at the Olympic Games in London in 1948, Bohumil Němeček scored with the same result in 1960 in Rome. In addition, we must mention Josef Němec and František Majdloch or Rudolf Kraj, Lukáš Konečný and Ondřej Pála, whobear the glory of Czech boxing in recent years.