Evolution and Exploitation

30.12.04 – By Matt Phillips: Since the beginning of boxing, thousands of years ago a lot has changed. Most of which is for the best but some things never change. For longer then what records can show, man has been fighting. The earliest recordings of boxing are from Egypt, where every fight ended in almost death.. It wasn’t till 1743 in London, England when a fighter called Jack Broughton died, that the Boxing Commission decided to set up a list of rules and regulations to stop this becoming such a regular occurrence. The Broughton Rules. This was then the basis for the London Prize Ring Rules, which were introduced in 1838. The rules were simple but effective and they changed boxing forever.

Thousands of years had gone by in the history of boxing, injuries, death and mutations and over night this drastically changed. It didn’t take long however for this to change again, even improved on, 29 years later and in came the Queensbury Rules, a set of 10 simple and forceful regulations that would change the way we thought about boxing.

Almost 138 years later and the Queensbury Rules are still here, well and truly knocking out its opponents of Broughton and London Prize. Some would think that the entire evolution of boxing happened in just 262 years and that’s the end of the tale. There’d be wrong.

The game is changing and some don’t even notice it. If you look up the Queensbury Rules you will read nothing about you being able to use your head and elbows, it even states that holding and wrestling are not permitted. But these aspects are now part of so many fighters’ tactics. Even the refs and judges look at it as part and parcel of the sport, though if you were to ask them they would be very quick to disagree.

Promoters and managers now dominate the sport that I might add are collecting all the money. If you’re not with the right promoter you can kiss your title shot good-bye. Its even got to a point where you can buy books on the unfortunate souls of boxing, the fighters who could have had a world title if only they were given a chance. This is a depressing fact but it is even more depressing for the boxers who dedicate their lives to this sport.

The reason for this is? Money. Money has become all the more plentiful in the last 138 years and though this is a good thing it has also contributed considerably to exploitation. In the beginning fighters would get paid by the bookmakers for there hardwork, now they have so many people taking a cut that a fighter might not end up with much of a share.

The fight game has changed a lot even since the Queensbury was first introduced; they just haven’t made a song and dance about it. Exploitation and money is the name of the game and though they might kid you that it is all about the safety of the fighters don’t be taken in by it.

Evidence of this.

What could be bigger than the laws of a US state? Nothing you may think? Wrong! Mississippi and Tennessee bent its laws for the chance to make money. In Mississippi, you are not allowed to walk outside with a baseball cap turned round on your head and you are also not allowed to have a tattoo showing in public. This year Mike Tyson walked down the road wearing a baseball cap backwards and well couldn’t really help the tattoo on his FACE. This is just one incident that was publicly noted.

There has been a change in the rules once again in England on how boxing will be conducted. Those of you that watched the Olympics this year will be aware that England has a hot young fighter call Amir Khan. He won silver medal and was unlucky not to win gold. He lost in the final on points to an extremely useful and strong Cuban fighter. The Cuban was 33 years old while young Amir was just 17. Its not to early to say that he is one to note for the future. While there was lots of speculation over whether he would turn pro or not he got a lot of promising offers from top promoters all over the world. In the end, he decided that he would stay amateur to see if he could turn that silver into gold at the Beijing Olympics in 4 years time. Well this isn’t as straightforward as you might think; you see, Amir is a star now, so people want to start making money off his back. Last week, the British Boxing Board of Control got together with the Amateur Boxing Association and decided that for the first time in history that amateurs and professions can now fight on the same bill. Amir Khan has now found himself as the chief supporter to the Joe Calzaghe World title fight in Manchester on March 11th.

He’ll be fighting in front of 20,000 people and making history. Not bad for an amateur. All you can say about this is that while the concept of boxing hasn’t changed from day one, but everything about it has. Money is what makes people box in this day and age, but it has also taken away its soul.

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