Clio Edition 4 - page 45

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Queensberry Rules.
The Queensberry rules
essentially set up the layout
of what we now know as
Boxing, the most important
rule being the requirement
of the fighters to wear
gloves. Whilst the intention
of the introduction of
gloves was to protect the
fighter, it saw a completely
opposite effect. Bare-
knuckle boxers previously
had restrained the power
of their punches in order to
prevent permanent damage
to their hands, however
now that they had hand
protection, fighters began
to punch with far greater
strength. The number of
knockouts and battered
boxers greatly increased, as
well as a long-term effect,
which became known as
‘punchdrunk syndrome,’
which caused brain damage.
These rules saw boxing
relatively revitalized, as the
danger made the thrill of
the fight for the public ever
greater. This primed the
sport for commercialization
and widespread interest,
however it still remained
seen by the upper and
middle classes of society as
an undesirable sport.
A lack of matches at home
saw the emigration of lots
of boxers to the United
States in the 1830s. Almost
unheard of as an organised
sport, boxing was nearly
nonexistent in America
in the early 19th century,
and it wasn’t until the
introduction of the sport
by British immigrants to
the church that it began
to gain popularity. A form
of Christianity, known as
‘muscular Christianity,’
committing not only to
piety, but also physical
health, took up the sport,
opening its own gyms
and supporting fighters.
Bare-knuckle showdowns
between British and Irish
immigrants began to gain
momentum and soon
American ‘natives’ were
participating. However, one
man in particular, John L.
Sullivan, began gauging
public interest in the sport,
turning it from its amateur
status to a much more
professional one. Sullivan
was bare-knuckle champion
until the Queensberry rules
were introduced, at which
time he chose to take up
gloves, again becoming
champion. His popularity
saw a rise in respectability
for the sport, and whilst
the attraction of boxing in
Britain was in rapid decline,
it was on a greater rise in
the States.
The decades following
this saw increased news
coverage and massive
popularity for the sport,
peaking in what is known
as the ‘Golden age of sports’
in the 1920s. The 1926 fight
between Gene Tunney and
Jack Dempsey generating
the first $1 million gate in
entertainment history. Ever
since, the United States has
been the world centre for
boxing, producing prodigies
such as Muhhamad Ali,
Mike Tyson and Floyd
Mayweather (the top
earning sportsman in
history). Not only this, but
boxing has been the topic
of some of our times most
successful films, such as
Rocky and Warrior, both
topping the box office and
capturing the audience of
millions across the globe.
Whilst nowadays the
boxing industry is clearly
dominated by America, this
never would have existed
without the hard work and
influence of the British in
the 18th and 19th century,
who provided the rules
and persona of a sport that
would go on to play a huge
role in world culture.
The Iconic photo
of Muhammad Ali
knocking out Sonny
Liston in 1965
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