Boxing, also referred to as prizefighting, the noble art, the sweet science, and pugilism is a combat sport in which two participants of similar weight fight each other with their fists in a series of one to three-minute intervals called rounds. Victory is achieved if the opponent is knocked down and unable to get up before the referee counts to ten (a Knockout, or KO) or if the opponent is deemed too injured to continue (a Technical Knockout, or TKO). If there is no stoppage of the fight before an agreed number of rounds, a winner is determined either by the referee's decision or by judges' scorecards.
Archaeological evidence indicates that the Egyptians may have practiced the sport as early as 3000 BC, and boxing is depicted in Sumerian relief carvings from the third millennium BC. According to the Iliad, Mycenaean warriors included boxing among their competitions honoring the fallen, though it is possible that the Homeric epics reflect later Greek culture. Another Greek legend holds that the heroic ruler Theseus, said to have lived around the 9th century BC, invented a form of boxing in which two men sat face to face and beat each other with their fists until one of them was killed.
In ancient Rome, fighters were usually criminals and slaves who hoped to become champions and gain their freedom; however, free men also fought. Eventually, fist fighting became so popular that even aristocrats started fighting, but the practice was eventually banned by Caesar Augustus. Records of Classical boxing activity disappeared after the fall of the Roman Empire. However, there are detailed records of various fist-fighting sports that were maintained in different cities and provinces of Italy between the 12th and 17th centuries. The sport would later resurface in England during the early 18th century in the form of bare-knuckle boxing sometimes referred to as prizefighting.
In 1867, the Marquess of Queensberry rules were drafted by John Chambers for amateur championships held at Lillie Bridge in London for Lightweights, Middleweights and Heavyweights. The rules were published under the patronage of the Marquess of Queensberry, whose name has always been associated with them. There were twelve rules in all, and they specified that fights should be "a fair stand-up boxing match" in a 24-foot-square ring. Rounds were three minutes long with one minute rest intervals between rounds. Each fighter was given a ten-second count if he was knocked down and wrestling was banned. The introduction of gloves of "fair-size" also changed the nature of the bouts. An average pair of boxing gloves resembles a bloated pair of mittens and are laced up around the wrists. Gloves protected the hands of both fighters but their considerable size and weight made knock-out victories more difficult to achieve. As a result, bouts became longer and more strategic with greater importance attached to defensive maneuvers such as slipping, bobbing, countering and angling.
A boxing match typically consists of a predetermined number of three-minute rounds, anywhere from three for an Olympic bout to up to fifteen for a professional fight. A minute is typically spent between each round with the fighters in their assigned corners receiving advice and attention from their coach and staff. The fight is controlled by a referee who works within the ring to judge and control the conduct of the fighters, rule on their ability to fight safely, count knocked-down fighters, and rule on fouls. Up to three judges are typically present at ringside to score the bout and assign points to the boxers, based on punches that connect, defense and knockdowns. Each fighter has an assigned corner of the ring, where his or her coach, as well as one or more "seconds" may administer to the fighter at the beginning of the fight and between rounds. Each boxer enters into the ring from their assigned corners at the beginning of each round and must cease fighting and return to their corner at the signaled end of each round.