Boxing is an ancient sport. Although it has not always been around in its current form fighting using fists for sport, entertainment and betting has been around for thousands of years. Since then times have changed, boxing equipment improved and techniques altered.
Take the boxing ring as a perfect example. Although a square now with predefined measurements (anything between 16 and 25 feet a side) its name is a throw back to the roughly drawn rings of history. In Greek and then Roman times boxing, whilst lacking the boxing equipment of the modern era, was a much loved sport. Using chalk rings boxers would go in bare knuckled and try to knock out the opponent, usually for a cash prize. Many wagers were made and the betting on such sports was a way of life, especially in the military.
Times have moved, new boxing equipment been developed and in 1838 the first ‘square ring’ was introduced by the Pugilistic society, with ropes secured around the edge. This has continued now and you will usually find such square rings atop raised platforms with four parallel ropes running around the outside, usually secured at the mid way point.
Whereas the Greeks and Romans would fight bare knuckle in a tradition that would last centuries such fighting is now considered dangerous, with too many boughts ending in serious injury or death. Thankfully modern technology has allowed us the use of pads and gloves as well as other boxing equipment that, whilst still ensuring a punch is delivered with force, help minimize the risk of severe injury to a level in line with most other impact sports.
Boxing gloves are now designed to spread the force of a blow over a wider area, ensuring a smaller chance of sustaining head and brain injuries. Boxing equipment such as pads and shields help stop and dissipate the force of blows in practice sparring, meaning less skilled boxers are able to use such boxing equipment – including punch bags to help a skilled boxer train for a fight.
It’s not just safety that has moved on either. Throughout history strength was the most prized asset of a fighter, the ability to take and give punches considered all important. Slowly over the last century or two that has changed, and now speed of feet and speed of hand are just as important, if not more so.
To that end new boxing equipment has been developed from plyometric speed equipment to the speedball and platform. The speedball is a very clever, and basic, development. It is a ball, suspended by a spring loaded platform that is designed to swing back into place swiftly. The idea behind this piece of boxing equipment is that it trains the boxers speed of hand and hand eye co-ordination. Attributes that are vital to the modern day boxer.
But whilst boxing equipment, techniques and training methods may have moved on from ancient times the idea behind the sport is still the same, to knock out your opponent. The basics have changed little over a couple of thousand years and it would be surprising if this sport wasn’t around, in some form or other, in a couple of thousand years more.