From Ancient Pugilatus to Modern-Day Boxing: A Look at the Evolution of Boxing Equipment
Boxing boasts two important titles. This sport is, at the moment, one of the most popular sports in the world. Also, it is classified as one of the world's oldest sports, with origins in ancient Greece.
This sport has evolved a lot during this time, going from endless rounds until one of the opponents falls to the ground, to short and monitored rounds and a digital scoring system. At the same time, the sports equipment used in boxing has changed, being greatly influenced by new and state-of-the-art technologies.
In this article, we will uncover the rich history and evolution of equipment in the sport of boxing.
A glimpse into the history of boxing
Boxing is an ancient sport with a long and rich history that dates back to ancient times. The exact origins of this sport are unknown, but over time, enough evidence has been found that helps approximate its appearance.
The discovered evidence shows that boxing was practiced in ancient Greece, Rome, China, and even Egypt. Based on them, the first recorded boxing event was also identified, which would have taken place during the ancient Olympic Games of 688 B.C.
Boxing enjoyed different names in each place where it was practiced. In ancient Greece, boxing was known as "pygmachia", in Egypt as "ankh", while in ancient Rome it was known as "pugilatus". Despite the different names, boxing was a violent sport in all these ancient cultures and was sometimes even used as a form of military training.
Boxers of those times used improvised pieces of equipment and fought until one of the competitors was so injured that it was impossible to continue. Leather straps were the first form of boxing gloves in ancient Greece, while in ancient Rome they used metal gloves, which were extremely heavy and did not offer any protection. Although these pieces of equipment were crude and dangerous, it was through the creativity and ingenuity of ancient boxers that modern boxing equipment we know today was developed.
The history of boxing equipment: Then vs. Now
As already mentioned, ancient boxers played an important role in the development of modern boxing equipment. From thongs, and iron or sand-filled gloves to today's gloves, the evolution of boxing equipment has come a long way, providing modern fighters with the protection needed for the sport.
The invention of boxing gloves comes from ancient Greece and Rome. In ancient Greece, boxers wrapped their hands in leather straps or thongs that they soaked in oil, while in ancient Rome, boxers' gloves were made of heavy metals. In ancient Egypt, on the other hand, they used gloves that they filled with sand for more strength.
Over time, boxing gloves have evolved not only in appearance but also in utility. If in ancient times they were seen as simple weapons to injure the opponent, now they have the role of protecting both fighters.
So, in the 1700s, the first padded glove appeared, while in the 1800s, the first modern boxing gloves made of soft leather with padding were designed, whose main purpose was to protect the boxer's hands.
In the 1900s, new materials and types of padding were introduced. Also, because there was an effort to make the gloves wrap around the wrists with leather straps, the first lacing system was added to their design.
Nowadays, boxing gloves are made from premium materials and with advanced technologies such as different types of foam and gel, offering extra protection and comfort.
Boxing shoes appeared in the 1900s at the same time as the creation of the first modern gloves.
The first boxing shoes were not special at all and not very different from other pairs of sports shoes. They were built from leather with a rubber sole for added traction.
Over time, they began to be built with other types of soles like non-slip ones, but also with more premium materials that reduced the weight of the shoe and increased comfort.
Today's shoes benefit from several types of design such as low-, mid-, and high-top, as well as synthetic and knit materials that ensure breathability, cushioning, and new technologies such as 3D printing for a tailored fit.
Since the early 20th century, athletes have started to create all kinds of protection for teeth, gums, and jaws. Some were made of rubber, leather, and even a substance obtained from tree sap.
However, the first protective rubber mouthpiece was developed by dentist Jack Marles in 1913. Jack's mouthpiece became popular and recognized when his good friend Ted "Kid" Lewis began using such a piece of equipment to reduce cheek and gums wounds.
These days, modern mouthpieces are mandatory in the boxing ring. Made of polyvinyl acetate (PVA) and polyethylene (PE), they are very soft and thin, so they feel as natural as possible when worn.
Jack Dempsey was an American professional boxer who competed between 1914 and 1927. Even before becoming one of the world heavyweight champions, he considered that to train more effectively he needed a piece of equipment that would protect the head. He went to a company that made bathing suits and asked them to build a protective headgear that would withstand more than fifteen rounds of intensive boxing training. The company that Jack approached was Everlast.
Along with the development and improvement of the headgear, it seems that Everlast has also evolved from manufacturing swimwear to becoming one of the best boxing brands.
Now, the headgear not only protects the head, but also other parts of the face such as the forehead, cheeks, and chin.
The ancient boxing equipment may have been dangerous, but it paved the way for the development of modern boxing equipment. The evolution of boxing equipment has not stopped and it is still in development. The renowned boxing brands introduce new materials, features, and ingenious technologies every year. The latest innovations are meant to increase the performance and safety of athletes.
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