While mixed martial arts seems like a relatively new development in the world of sports, each of the roots of MMA derive from sports and martial arts that are thousands of years old. Boxing, for example, was a spectator sport as far back the days of ancient Egypt, Assyria and Babylon. Boxing, in an early form, was even part of the first Olympic games around 680 B.C.E.
While one can presume that boxing didn’t suddenly disappear, recordings of boxing matches are fairly scarce until the late 17th century when there are published accounts of bare-knuckle boxing in England. The sport was highly popular in England, and there were even official rules for the sport, known as Broughton’s Rules. Broughton not only created rules for the game, he also invented the first type of padded gloves.
The rules created by Jack Broughton continued to evolve until John Chambers created another set of rules in the late 1860s. These rules are known as the Marquess of Queensbury regulations because the Marquess paid for the publishing of the rules, and for the most part, they are identical to the professional boxing rules used today.
The rules set down the number of rounds and the length of each round. In addition, it required that fighters begin each round in their corners and that during the time in the corner, the coach can advise the fighter. In addition, these rules describe the role of the referee and set down the basics of judging a fight.
The sport of boxing was primarily a way for fighters to earn money during this time and, of course, gambling was a huge part of every fight. However, when the modern Olympic Games were formed, amateur boxing leagues were established with the emphasis resting on boxing as an art form and sport and not as a financial enterprise. The rules for amateur boxing are different, with shorter bouts and more protective gear being among the differences.
For mixed martial arts fighters, learning boxing skills is a great way to improve one’s footwork and hand combat skills. While historically, boxers have not fared well in mixed fights, it is always wise to expand your skill set. A well-rounded fighter is more likely to be successful in MMA, so it is important to train at a gym that offers classes and training in Muay Thai, jiu-jitsu and boxing, as well as strength training and conditioning.