A bit of history … BOXING
The origins of boxing date back to antiquity. Some famous meetings are described in the Iliad and in the Aeneid. The fighters used to protect their hands with leather laces reinforced with lead plates.
Boxing began to be part of the Olympic program in 668 B.C. and the literature handed down the names of the winners of the Olympics over a period of more than a millennium. There were no weight categories and therefore the discipline, at a high competitive level, was reserved for individuals of considerable size.
Boxing was also present in ancient Rome. The combat ended with the surrender of one of the two contenders; serious injuries and even death were accepted not due to evil, but simply to technical and athletic superiority.
It is necessary to reach 1719 to see the birth of a modern boxing school in London. In the same year a certain James Figg self-declared boxing champion having won 15 fights and finding no opponent who dared to challenge him. Figg had an athlete’s body, was 1.84 cm tall and weighed 84 kg. At the time there was no talk of boxing but of “noble art of defense”. Naturally, besides being able to defend oneself, at school one also learned how to assert his rights, which were better defended after abundant beer and gin. There were no fighting rules and the fighters fought with their bare hands.
The successor on the throne of Figg, of course Jack Broughton, proposed in 1743 a code of rules that included: the identification of a ring delimited by ropes, the presence of two seconds that could assist the boxer, the identification of an arbitrator for the judgment and another arbitrator who controls the time. In addition, banned shots were indicated, namely: shots taken with the head, feet and knees and blows under the belt. The meeting was also scheduled to be suspended for 30 seconds when one or both of the boxers were on the ground; after 30 seconds there were 8 seconds: who was not able to resume was defeated. However, there was no limit to the duration of the fighting. It was also a rule to make bets and the same boxers were betting on themselves.
Famous the case of Johnson Jackling who, thanks to his superiority, in the second half of 1700 was greatly enriched by always focusing on himself. But he died in poverty, after having aroused enormous enthusiasm and squandered his fortune.
In 1825 there was the first meeting between a British champion, Sayer, and an American champion, Heenan. It ended after 42 shots with an invasion of the field by the crowd, the referee’s escape and a verdict of parity that partially calmed the minds of the spectators. The betting environment progressively poisoned boxing and the verdicts were affected by the lack of certain rules to which the referees could make up. Rules were then written, mainly thanks to the Marquis of Queensberry, who opened the door to modern boxing. Three categories of weights were introduced (maximum, medium and light); the 10-second count for the KO was established and the obligation for the other boxer to move away without hitting the fallen boxer, even if he had only one knee to the ground. New gloves were required. The shooting time was set in 3 minutes, with an interval of 1 minute; the number of shots that was left to bargain among the boxers remained floating. However, it was the referee’s right to prolong the meeting until the inferiority of one of the two contenders was manifest. The concept then remained that the loser was the one who succumbed, a solution very close to that of the KO.
We must arrive in the early 1900s to create other categories (medium-light, feather, cock, fly and medium-highs) and to limit the duration of the meetings: 20 shooting, 15 for meetings valid for European and world titles, 12 for national titles. Limiting the duration of the meeting, it was necessary to identify criteria for winning points.
From the physiological point of view the division into categories is interesting, implicit recognition of the fact that force is an essential component in the comparison. However, it is more correct to recall the concept of “momentum”:
momentum = mass x speed
The more devastating momentum is the punch.
The momentum increases with the mass of the fist but also with the speed with which it is launched, the speed, in turn, depends on the acceleration impressed on the fist.
In practice, the greater the size, the greater difficulty the subject has to accelerate his body or parts of his body. Within the same category the greater mass confers greater force at the expense of the speed of execution of the movement.
Between a superior and a lower category the advantage linked to the greater force (which increases in proportion to the muscular section) is much greater than the disadvantage linked to the limitation of the acceleration and therefore of the speed of execution. On a purely physiological level, boxing requires at the same time strength, agility and neuromuscular coordination for the precision and timing in bringing shots. This is a difficult compromise if one considers that the execution of a gesture is more precise if the strength developed is low. It is common to observe that powerful blows are often inaccurate, while precise blows can be too weak.
On the psychic level, boxing requires a perfect balance for the evaluation of the combat strategy which depends on the individual characteristics and the opponent. The decision on the expenditure of energy must be extremely careful. It is certain that on a sporting level there are boxers who exploit their devastating power with monotony, while others are masters of technique and combat strategy.
The image presented portrays a very heavy weight, the black Joe Louis, while the German Max Schmeling lands in a famous meeting at Yankee Stadium in New York on June 22, 1938, becoming a world champion. Two years earlier, the German had defeated the black at the 12th restart for KO. They were bad years for Europe and the world, and Schmeling played the superior race warrior. Louis got rid of him in 2 minutes and 4 seconds with a shot that went down in history for accuracy and power.
You do not become a boxer if there is no athletic prowess, but you do not even become great if you lack intelligence and perseverance.
Infinite hours must be spent improving the strength and technique of combat; Endless hours are necessary to learn how to sift effort and objectively evaluate the allocation of points.
A typical characteristic of the boxer’s training is to breathe closed-mouthed. This depends on the absolute need to keep the mouth closed during the meeting to tighten the mouthguard and absorb the blows to the jaw.
Curiously, the concept of doing physical activity keeping the mouth closed has infected the sports environment and you often hear that you have to resist as much as possible before breathing open-mouthed. This is a great stupidity and contrasts with the physiological control of respiratory activity. When the ventilation is low you breathe from the nose (so the mouth is closed), when the ventilation increases beyond a certain value, it automatically goes to the breathing through the mouth that involves a resistance much lower than the passage of air.
The training of a boxer also involves a good basic aerobic conditioning, the more useful the more challenging and long the fight is expected.
Danger and medical checks
Boxing is a sport where it is expected that it will “hurt” the adversary. This entails a risk of injury that may be serious enough to cause death. Risk assessment is often done considering other disciplines considered dangerous, such as motoring and mountaineering. It is rightly observed that in the case of motoring and mountaineering, fatality is linked to error, while in the case of boxing the serious event is due to a “successful” stroke, technically “perfect” and therefore in the logic of ‘meeting .
Cranial trauma can cause permanent injury. Medical checks are absolutely essential and must be frequent. There is a very precise sports medical scheme to follow in case the boxer has undergone a KO. The KO is due to a state of acute suffering of the central nervous system. The stroke can cause a hemorrhage whose fatal consequence may be cerebral edema.
A boxing career inevitably involves brain micro-injuries.
The career of a boxer is critically linked to the category he belongs to. The boxer is interested in keeping the weight to a minimum to try to re-enter a lower category, thus exploiting the advantage that can derive from having a size in effect corresponding to a higher category. Various methods are adopted to keep weight to a minimum. The most common is the use of anabolic steroids: these increase muscle mass and reduce fat mass to a minimum. Two other methods are adopted to lose weight acutely during the traditional weighing before the meeting, ie the use of diuretics and a profuse