Early history. The earliest evidence of boxing as a sport is found in the Mediterranean area from about 1500 BC.

The sport was introduced by the Greeks into the Olympic Games in the late 7th century BC. Greek boxers used thongs of soft leather to bind their hands and forearms for protection. Later in Rome, the leather glove was exchanged for the cestus, which was studded with metal, and gladiatorial boxing matches usually ended with the death of one contestant. The sport declined with the late Roman Empire, and no further reference to boxing exists until modern times. Boxing as a sport had reappeared in England by the early 18th century. The first champion by acclamation, in 1719, was James Figg (q.v.), who held the title for some 15 years. Until nearly the end of the 19th century, gloves were not used, and at first there were no rules; wrestling was permitted, as was hitting an opponent who was down. Jack Broughton, who was the heavyweight champion of England from 1734 to 1750, first introduced rules in which a round lasted until a man went down; if after 30 seconds he could not continue, the fight was over. Under his rules it was forbidden to hit an opponent who was down or to grasp him below the waist. The first prizefighter to be considered scientific in his approach was Daniel Mendoza (q.v.), who in the late 1780s introduced an emphasis on footwork and the left jab. John ("Gentleman") Jackson, who succeeded Mendoza, did much to attract distinguished people to boxing. London prizefighters remained dominant in the sport throughout the 18th century and until near the end of the 19th, with only occasional Irish, American, and Australian challengers. 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, not be carried there by his seconds. Kicking, gouging, butting, biting, and blows below the belt were explicitly made fouls. In 1867 the Marquess of Queensberry rules (q.v.) were introduced; originally for amateur use, they later superseded the London rules. The American champion John L. Sullivan was the last of the great fighters to box under the London Prize Ring

Jack Johnson sought a heavyweight championship fight for which he seemed to be qualified from 1902 until he won the championship in 1908. not more than 112 pounds (51 kg). not more than 140 pounds (64 kg). American domination remained only in the heavyweight division. not more than 101 pounds (46 kg).rules. partly because immigrants supplied a constantly renewed pool of boxers. more than 175 pounds (79 kg). super middleweight. were in what is now the heavyweight division. ("Gentleman Jim") Corbett. not more than 119 pounds (54 kg). light welterweight. As a result.e. lightweight. the United States became the premier boxing scene. professional boxers fought with no weight requirements. Other weight divisions appeared in the second half of the 19th century. i. In the second half of the 20th century. flyweight. not more than 125 pounds (57 kg). American boxing influence spread to the Philippines after the Spanish-American War. dominated every weight division in boxing. not more than 200 pounds (91 kg). and there is now general agreement on the different weight classes. however. In the 18th century and the first half of the 19th. and super heavyweight. featherweight. heavyweight. not more than 165 pounds (75 kg). early dominant as heavyweights. In the Olympic Games. for example. bantamweight. welterweight. Most of the boxers. middleweight. but they often encountered racial prejudice. more than 200 pounds (91 kg). an extremely popular champion.. not more than 148 pounds (67 kg). From Sullivan on. light heavyweight. not more than 132 pounds (60 kg). different ethnic and racial groups dominated boxing in the United States in successive periods well into the 20th century. removed the stigma from black boxers. Italians were prominent from the 1920s. After World War II the sport spread to East Asia and in the 1950s to Africa's newly emergent nations. Some non-Olympic weight divisions are called cruiserweight. The first world champion under the Marquess of Queensberry rules was James J. There were a few talented black fighters from the 19th century on. . who defeated Sullivan in 1892. The heavyweight championship of Joe Louis (1937-49). and to the Latin-American countries as the 20th century progressed. Jewish fighters were especially prominent after 1915. not more than 178 pounds (81 kg). light middleweight. By 1915 the Irish. and straw-weight. there are 12 medal events: light flyweight. not more than 156 pounds (71 kg). and after him more black fighters than white have held the heavyweight title.

By the .v. during it. in 1866 John Graham Chambers founded the Amateur Athletic Club for (among other sports) boxing. The televising of championship fights did increase revenues. Both of these organizations were concerned with the sponsoring of championship fights and the recognition of champions. modern professional organization began with the Pelican Club (founded 1887). when the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) was formed.S. Organization began among the amateurs. In the United States. superseded by the National Sporting Club (1891). The Amateur International Boxing Association. By the time of Louis' deposition in 1949. Another professional organization.S. after which local boxing declined because the local clubs and fighters could no longer attract audiences. In England.). When both the WBA and the WBC began naming rival champions from 1965 (with occasional agreements). the televising of fights added to boxing's popularity through the 1950s. inaugurated in 1926 by the Chicago Tribune and from 1927 called the Golden Gloves (q. with the ABA championships. the International Boxing Federation. and. Joe Louis' long reign was also popular. championship competition began in 1888. but it was omitted from the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm because boxing was then illegal in Sweden. the heavyweight division predominated. The British Boxing Board of Control (1919) effectively replaced the National Sporting Club after 1929. there was an inevitable dilution of standards. dominance of the WBA led to the formation of the rival World Boxing Council (WBC) in 1963. The first great period of boxing popularity began in the 1920s as a result of the American promoter Tex Rickard (q. Boxing events were held in the Olympic Games from 1904.v. the National Boxing Association was founded in 1920 and was renamed the World Boxing Association (WBA) in 1962. The Amateur Boxing Association (ABA) was established in 1880 as the British governing body. with his million-dollar gates. who preferred to watch nationally recognized boxers fight on television. radio broadcasts of championship fights enlarged the audience. augmented the AAU championships and. produced many later professional boxers. formed in 1946. and the Marquess of Queensberry rules resulted. While boxing at all weights was popular. A tournament. Jack Dempsey was the first popular idol. Annual U. was founded in 1983. now conducts Olympic boxing. U.).Professional boxing was regulated only by the boxers in the early days.

A single referee has remained constant. professional ones range from 4 to 12.000. a championship fight in one of the heavier divisions could produce revenues of more than $35. have been 12-round fights since the late 1980s. In both kinds of boxing.000. so that a fighter can now win by amassing a larger number of points than his opponent. when a boxer is judged by the referee incapable of defending himself even though he has not been counted out. and in some cases a referee has no vote in the decision. Referees in amateur bouts are instructed to stop a fight in which a boxer could suffer serious injury.1990s. professional boxing adopted the decision system. the referee stops the bout if a fighter cannot defend himself. All fighters wear protective mouthpieces over the upper teeth. it allowed knockouts (a count of 10 over downed opponents) but primarily emphasized points (solid blows struck) and decisions rendered by judges. and in a draw. when a bout goes the scheduled number of rounds and is won on points. . In time. When amateur boxing became popular in the late 19th century. Amateur bouts are 3 rounds. as well as by knockout. in a technical knockout. but the number of judges for a boxing match varies from three to five. in professional fights. Thus a bout can end in a decision. which formerly lasted 15 rounds. in a knockout. and championship fights. a contestant who floors an opponent must move to a neutral corner before the count begins.