Origins of Boxing – Queensbury Rules of Boxing

Being part of a business so intimately involved in the fight game, I live and breathe all aspects of the sports we touch on notably Boxing. Boxing is the most popular spectator combat sport in the modern world, and its champions earn more than most other professional sportspeople. The defining fight of this big money era was the 2015 Mayweather Vs. Pacquiao event grossed more than $600 million, with the television networks taking over $400 million and Mayweather an estimated $120 million and Pacquiao around $80 million. The sport of competitive Boxing has its origins deep in the ages, and I was curious how long ago you would have to go back to understand the history and the evolution. After some digging, I quickly realized that it's not hundreds, but thousands of years in human history. Given my personality and obsessive nature, I find myself geeking out and digging further into what's unknown, so here I go sharing some of the interesting historical facts I stumbled across.  

The Marquess of Queensberry Rules, also known as Queensbury Rules, is a code of generally accepted rules in the sport of Boxing. Drafted in London in 1865 and published in 1867, they were named so as the 9th Marquess of Queensberry publicly endorsed the code, although they were written by a Welsh sportsman named John Graham Chambers. The code of rules on which modern Boxing is based, the Queensberry rules were the first to mandate the use of gloves in Boxing.

The Queensberry Rules eventually superseded the London Prize Ring Rules (revised in 1853), and are intended for use in both professional and amateur boxing matches, thus separating it from the less-popular American Fair Play Rules were strictly meant for amateur competitions. In everyday use, the term is sometimes used to refer to a sense of sportsmanship and fair play.

The boxing code was written by John Graham Chambers, a Welshman, and drafted in London in 1865, before being published in 1867 as "the Queensberry rules for the sport of boxing." At the time, boxing matches were conducted under the London Prize Ring Rules, written in 1838 and revised in 1853. Bare-knuckle fights under the London Prize Rules continued for the next several decades. However, the Queensberry Rules would eventually become the standard set of rules under which all boxing matches were governed. This version persuaded boxers that "you must not fight simply to win; no holds barred is not the way; you must win by the rules."

One early prizefighter who fought under Marquess of Queensberry rules was Jem Mace, former English heavyweight champion, who defeated Bill Davis in Virginia City, Nevada, under these rules in 1876. In 1889, the Queensberry rules came into use in the United States and Canada.

The main element of the code of rules on which modern Boxing is based is it was the first to mandate boxing gloves in competition. So the famous glove change from 10-ounce to 8-ounce wouldn’t have even been possible without the Queensbury rules as they protect the hands so that competitors can keep fighting. Established in 1867 by the Marquess of Queensberry. Below is a list of the 12 Queensbury rules:

1. To be a fair stand-up boxing match in a twenty-four-foot ring or as near that size as practicable.

2. No wrestling or hugging allowed.

3. The rounds to be of three minutes duration and one minute time between rounds.

4. If either man falls through weakness or otherwise, he must get up unassisted, ten seconds be allowed to do so, the other man meanwhile to return to his corner, and when the fallen man is on his legs, the round is to be resumed and continued until the three minutes have expired. If one man fails to come to the scratch in the ten seconds allowed, it shall be in the power of the referee to give his award in favor of the other man.

5. A man hanging on the ropes in a helpless state, with his toes off the ground, shall be considered down.

6. No seconds or any other person to be allowed in the ring during the rounds.

7. Should the contest be stopped by any unavoidable interference, the referee (is) to name the time and place as soon as possible for finishing the contest, to that the match can be won and lost, unless the backers of the men agree to draw the stakes.

8. The gloves to be fair-sized boxing gloves of the best quality and new.

9. Should a glove burst, or come off, it must be replaced to the referee’s satisfaction.

10. A man on one knee is considered down, and if struck is entitled to the stakes.

11. No shoes or boots with springs allowed.

12. The contest in all other respects to be governed by the revised rules of the London Prize Ring.

These twelve new rules distinguished bouts for Lightweights, Middleweights, and Heavyweights and specified that fights should be "a fair stand-up boxing match," and all fights must be conducted in a "24-foot-square" ring with three-minute rounds and a one-minute rest interval in between each.


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