History of boxing - part 1
To most people, boxing generally means fist fighting for a purse of money, i.e., prize fighting. But the sport has other facets. Colleges, schools, athletic clubs and other organizations conduct amateur bouts in which there is no prize money awarded to the contestants. Here the bouts are friendly ones of matching skills in the "Manly Art of Self Defense." Many youngsters start out in boxing for the physical benefits they derive from the exercises pursued in developing their skills. Some who develop great skill eventually turn professional and make boxing a career.
The origin of boxing is buried in antiquity. It has been found to have existed long before the Greeks and Romans indulged in and watched contests. Later it took a strong hold in England. It had a hard time establishing itself in this country. Not until about the turn of the century did it gain a measure of respect in the United States. Now, it is a prosperous activity, with bouts conducted in the largest arenas in the nation. Radio brought descriptions of fights to the home, and television has brought the fight itself into the home. A person now can see at least one or two main bouts weekly while sitting on his living room sofa. Having become a part of the regular television program, fights generally bring in higher fees from TV than from gate receipts.
Boxing is permitted in many states and territories by an enabling act, which specifically prohibits "prize fighting." But the amateurs and the professionals have been indulging in "prize fighting" for decades, and nobody in authority has done anything about it. All of it has been with the blessing of the boxing commissions.
Since Webster says that "a prize is something offered, or striven for in competition," it means that an amateur becomes a "prize fighter" any time he strives for a trophy, and all professionals who accept cash for their services also are "prize fighters." Therefore, there isn't, in the United States, any group of fighters that is not violating that part of the law which says that "prize fighting is barred."
What the legislators had in mind when drafting the law was to block bare-knuckle fighting under London Prize Ring Rules. The gentlemen, obviously, were under the impression that "prize fighting" and bare-knuckle warfare were one and the same, whereas anyone who accepts an award of any kind for participating in any type of fist fight becomes a "prize fighter," whether he uses gloves or bare fists.
In the old days of bare-knuckle bouts the folks who were fancy with their speeches referred to the bouts as "pugilistic contests." The less refined classified them as "prize fights," since the men fought for a purse put up by promoters or spectators, the money being split according to advance agreement-all to the winner, 90 per cent to the winner, 10 per cent to the loser, 80-20, 70-30 or 60-40.
In this modern age the spectators pay their money through the box office of a promoter, who acts as transmitting agent. He pays money, or awards a trophy, as the fighters agree upon in advance, retaining a share for his expenses, as was done in the bare-knuckle days. Thus, the principle of boxing awards of today hardly differs from that in the era of bare-knuckle duels.
The legislators determined to bar bare-knuckle battles, under London Prize Ring Rules, because they had the idea the bouts were brutal, while modern boxing was the "manly art of self-defense." The truth is that present-day fighting, with gloves encasing fists and with rounds of three minutes each, are more devastating than ever was known in bare-knuckle fighting.
In the old days if a fighter had to take more beating than he could absorb he merely slipped to the ground and that ended the round. His seconds hauled him to his corner and ministered to him, while he enjoyed 30 seconds of respite. If he still happened to be too woozy to stand up under a new onslaught, he needed only to totter BOXING 261
to midring for the next round and fall down again, without being hit. That ended the round, and he was permitted another 30 seconds of rest.