History of American Boxing

Boxing―the sport itself creates an image of swollen appendages and a bruised face. However, the flip side of the coin is that this sport has also enabled many a country to create a niche in the world of sport, and many a sportsperson to find true self-expression. The sport originated from typically primitive hand-to-hand combats of ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. The earliest forms of expression of the sport probably rose out of the need to declare supremacy of the physical body, and the extent to which it can be resilient. The sport is believed to have become a part of the American world of sport and history in the 18th century. The pugilism was passed on when the British colonized the Americas. The sport ‘arrived’ via the youth of wealthy southern families.

The Early Days

The earliest recorded history of boxing in America is one of a public spectacle. At that point in time, the matches were fought bare knuckles. There were no-holds-barred combats that were encouraged. The boxing exhibited then included wrestling. Spectators formed the ring, and the absence of a referee and time limit made the sport a brutal affair. The primitive sports psychology applied was ‘fight till one man is finished’. Boxing bouts used to last for hours. The boxers were allowed to choke, throw, and kick their opponents. There was no ‘weight’ category, and neither were victors recognized officially. The sport was brutal and bloody.

African-American boxing involved bouts between Black American and Hispanic American boxers, and at times, even Native Americans who were victims of slavery. They were betted on by their wealthy southern masters. The first great slave fighter known was Tom Molineaux. He won his freedom after knocking out a rival from an adjoining plantation. The fights were soon categorized into sports betting or prize fighting and sparring. In the former, the boxers fought for money, with bare knuckles. The bouts were often against local laws. In sparring, the combatants wore gloves and displayed a new kind of ‘science’ associated with the moves in the ring. The techniques were used, not for a purse or to inflict bodily harm, but to take the sport to the next level. Sparring was exhibited as a genuine sport at exhibitions and private gymnasiums. This was probably the era that marked the beginning of extreme sports.

Earliest Rules

The earliest set of rules laid-down included:

  • No hitting below the belt
  • No hitting an opponent who was ‘down’ in the ring
  • No wrestling holds below the waist
  • 30-second rest periods
  • Knockdown spelled round over

In 1866, the Marquis of Queensberry laid down a set of glove fighting rules that included:

  • Compulsory use of gloves
  • No wrestling
  • Rounds lasting three minutes
  • Rest period of one minute
  • Recovery period of ten seconds after knockdown

The Early Heroes of American Boxing

Tom Molineaux, a slave boxer: He ‘won his freedom’ in 1809 and went to England. There, he fought several times between 1810 and 1811, finally losing out to Tom Crib, the English champion.

Christopher Lilly: He is best remembered for defeating Thomas McCoy in a bout that lasted for a whole two hours and forty-one minutes! McCoy died in the 77th round due to fluid from wounds draining into the lungs. He had ‘drowned’! However, the match attracted immediate legal response.

John C. Heenen and Thomas Sayers: They enhanced their sports careers on becoming the first recorded joint winners of a bout. The fight took place on April 17, 1860, in Hampshire, England.

John L. Sullivan: Popular as the ‘Boston Strong Boy’, he became America’s first ‘sports hero’. He was known to be an honest fighter, who could adapt to any set of rules. He refused to fight a black, and knew nothing of the science of the ring, but he had a knockout punch.

American boxing developed out of sheer show of strength, but evolved into a sport that enabled many strong-willed and able-bodied men to ‘find’ the power of resilience.

Origin and History of Baseball

A bat, a ball, a ninety-square-feet square or diamond patch and two teams with nine payers each; that is all you need for a baseball game. Yes, baseball is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams of nine players each. Each team has to score runs by hitting a ball with a bat and touching each of the four bases marked on the ground. One turn at the batting end makes an inning and nine such innings constitute one baseball game. Where did baseball originate? Since when has baseball been played? Let us find out.

History of Baseball

It was once believed that Abner Doubleday, a United States Army officer and Union General in the American Civil War, invented baseball. However, no evidence in favor of this belief has been found. It was in 1364, during the rule of King Vlaicu Voda, that Oina, a game similar to baseball was mentioned. It is also believed that baseball evolved from the North-American game of rounders. The American and British documents of the 18th century show many references to baseball and the bat-and-ball game. The Russians played a version of baseball, way back in the 14th century. This game of theirs was known as Lapta. Lapta was played between a pitcher and a batter. A batter was supposed to hit the ball thrown, with a short stick and then run to the opposite side and back, in order to score runs. Lately, it has been found that baseball was played by the British before anyone else.

The modern-day rules of baseball have been derived from Alexander Cartwright’s list of baseball rules, which he codified in 1845. On June 19, 1846, the New York Nine team played against the Knickerbockers defeating them with a score of 23-1. This was the first baseball game to be recorded. In 1953, Alexander Cartwright was declared as being the inventor of baseball. During the early 1960s, the number of baseball clubs dropped drastically, resulting in a temporary decline in the popularity of the game. The Civil War caused the number of baseball clubs to drop, while also leading to the spread of baseball to other parts of the world. By the time the war ended, people from different regions had grown interest in baseball. By the 1960s, the game had become a national pastime of America.

The year 1871 witnessed the establishment of the first professional baseball league that was called the National Association of Professional Baseball Players. The National League was founded in 1876.

Today, baseball is played all around the world. It has been played in the US and in Canada, since a relatively long time. But the first baseball league outside US and Canada was established in Cuba in 1878. It has been one of the strongest teams in international baseball. Between the world wars and after the Second World War, baseball leagues were established in several countries across the globe. In recent years, baseball has become popular in Australia. The increasing popularity of baseball has given it a place in the list of Olympic sports.