Monday, January 9, 2012

About Boxing in United States

Boxing dates back at least to ancient Greece: Homer's "The Iliad" mentions a prizefight. It began as a brutal bloodsport. Contestants in Greece and Rome wrapped their hands and sometimes their forearms with leather, and sometimes attached shards of metal to the leather. Fights were often to the death. By the time boxing was introduced to America by the British around 1830, the it was becoming more civilized.

19th Century
British boxers looking for matches brought the sport to America. By the latter part of the 1800s, boxing became linked with the "Muscular Christianity" movement, which emphasized physical and moral strength. Heavyweight John L. Sullivan, the last bare knuckles champion, later won the championship with gloves on under the 1865 Queensbury rules, and became the first sports celebrity in America. Boxing's momentum continued with the support of Teddy Roosevelt, a boxer, who recommended that the sport be incorporated into the training of police and military recruits. Boxing became an Olympic sport in St. Louis in 1904.
Early 20th Century
Boxing achieved a heyday in the first part of the century as a series of great heavyweight champions captured the attention of the public. In 1908, Jack Johnson became the first black champion, setting up a battle against the first "Great White Hope," former champ James Jeffries. It was billed as a fight to determine racial superiority, and Johnson whipped Jeffries. In the sports-crazy 1920s, blue collar warrior Jack Dempsey won the championship, only to have it take away by the tactical Gene Tunney before 126,000 fans. The rematch lured 145,000 people to Chicago's Soldier Field to watch Tunney prevail again. Then came Joe Louis, who held the title for 12 years through the 1940s. In a fight billed as a morality play, Louis defeated German Max Schmeling, who was held up as a symbol of Aryan superiority.
Late 20th Century
The last golden age of boxing was ushered in by Cassius Clay, who changed his name to Muhammad Ali and danced and fought his way to worldwide popularity. A magician in the ring and a poet outside of it, Ali fought memorable battles against George Foreman and Joe Frazier. Criticism of Ali when he went to jail rather than fight in Vietnam gave way to respect for his courage and idealism, and Ali became a worldwide ambassador for peace and religious tolerance.
21st Century
Boxing fell on hard times late in the 20th century and early in the 21st. Newer sports such as auto racing and mixed martial arts elbowed boxing from the limelight in America. An Oscar-winning movie about a female boxer, "Million Dollar Baby," drew more attention than anything in the ring, and few American hopefuls emerged in the heavyweight division. But as the first decade of the 21st century drew to a close, Manny Pacquiao emerged as perhaps the best pound-for-pound fighter in the history of the sport. Fighting mostly in America, Pacquiao, a legislator in the Philippines and a concert singer, won championships in eight weight classes, dominating bigger opponents and capping it off with an easy victory over Antonio Margarito late in 2010 before some 40,000 people in Texas Stadium. Boxing, described as a "brutal art" and a "sweet science," was still alive and kicking.

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