Origins of Boxing

The earliest records of boxing date from before the great days of the Greek and Roman Empires. Egyptian hieroglyphics from around 400 BC suggest that a sort of combat between soldiers was practiced. Thongs were wrapped around the hands and forearms in a primitive forerunner of the boxing glove. Slabs found in a temple near Bagdad also show fights with leather-wrapped fists about the same time. Records of early Greek and Roman times show that man-to-man combat was common in various games and festivals celebrated throughout their empires.1

The word pugilism comes from the Greek pugme through the Latin pugil, a boxer from pugas, and pugnare, to fight with the fist. The term boxing is believed to arise from the action of clenching the fist, the folding of fingers and thumb into a box, and its roots also from the Greek and Latin, puxos and buxus.2

Today a box on the ears is a blow to that appendage. To the Greeks, “Pugilate” was a science in fighting with their masters, professors, Pastaestrae and Gymnasia. Very much like our managers, trainers and the setting, the gymnasium.3

  1. Arnold, Peter. 1985. The History of Boxing. Seacucus, NJ: Chartwell Books, Inc., pg 6 []
  2. Arnold, Peter. 1985. The History of Boxing. Seacucus, NJ: Chartwell Books, Inc., pg 6 []
  3. Goldman, Herb. 1982. The Ring , March 1982. pg 18, “The Answer Man” []