Celebrity News: In April 1741, in a damp and gloomy London, a thirty-six-year-old pugilistic ruler named John Broughton better known as; Jack Broughton participated in a boxing tournament with bare fists that would forever change the style of boxing. Broughton, who was six feet tall and weighed almost 90 kg, faced George Stevenson, a Yorkshire driver. The agile Stevenson had better leg play than his opponent and released the blows more quickly, but Broughton was heavier and hit harder, and that was crucial. The bout ended when Broughton knocked out Stevenson with a straight under the heart. The coachman died three weeks later as a result of injuries sustained. Broughton, afflicted, pledged to look for ways to avoid the occurrence of such tragedies.
Fighting with fists as competition and spectacle have been one of the oldest sporting activities in the history of mankind. The pugilistic competitions have been practiced since the Antiquity in all the continents with the exception of America.
Its origin is believed African and goes back to 6000 a.c., in the area of present-day Ethiopia, from where it first spread to the Egyptian civilization and then to Mesopotamia, where bas-reliefs of fighters dating from the year 5500 bc. From Egypt passed to the Minoan civilization developed in Crete, while from Mesopotamia expanded to India.
The word “boxing” was already used in England in the sixteenth century to refer to a quarrel of fists. But the first record of a boxing match as a sports match between two opponents is 1681, while the first use of the word “boxing” to refer to the sport, dates from the year 1711.
By the early eighteenth century, boxing was already a popular sport in London and in some English cities, where money was being fought and spectators were betting. By that time, this activity was a brutal mix of wrestling and fighter combat.
In 1719, an Oxfordshire fighter known as James Figg is recognized as the first champion of England and reigned to its death, in 1734. It happened to him its disciple, Jack Broughton, that would maintain the supremacy until 1750. The fact narrated at the beginning caused That Broughton initially abandoned boxing, but then had the vital intention of designing a set of rules that would prevent the repetition of events like that.
Two years later, Broughton opened a boxing arena in London, near Tottenham Court Road, whose fights would be made according to a regulation drafted by him with which he intended to make boxing a more human and scientific sport, thus endowing him with A technical and methodical approach and optimizing the blows and displacements. Broughton wrote seven rules originally, which in 1838 was extended to 23 and to 29 in 1853.
The new regulation, issued on August 16, 1743, and distinguished as “London Prize Ring rules” prohibited hitting the opponent below the waist and when he was on the ground. The assaults finished before the fall of one of the fighters. The fallen opponent was allowed half a minute to recover and, when he got up, he had to tap a chalk mark in the center of the ring. If he could not get to the line, he was declared defeated.
Broughton also introduced boxing gloves. With them, he intended to reduce ocular lesions, broken jaws and bleeding noses. But the gloves were only used in the demonstrations of boxing, whereas in the contests continued boxing with the naked fists.
When large sums of money were involved, spectators invaded the ring many times when they saw the fighter they had bet on. To avoid this, Broughton introduced the wooden and canvas quadrilaterals placed 1.8 meters above the ground.
The Broughton Rules continued to be applied with some modifications, for almost 100 years, until 1838, when he was renamed London Boxing Tournament Regulations. Then, in 1867, the rules of the Marchioness of Queensberry, a great boxing enthusiast, were imposed. This new regulation, still in force, established the mandatory use of gloves, prohibited to use techniques of fight in the ring and dictated that the assaults lasted in 3 minutes.
American John L. Sullivan was the last boxer to win a world championship under the rules of the London Prize Ring, defeating Paddy Ryan in 1882 and was the last to defend the title according to the same guidelines, defeating in 1889 Jake Kilrain.
Jack Broughton’s passion and fortitude allowed him, instead of battering down the deadly London event, to think of humanizing boxing in order to avoid irreversible damage to the opponents. Upon his death in 1789, the “father of modern boxing” was buried in Westminster Abbey and a member of the first group to enter the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.