How would you like to get hit in the face by one one of these ancient forms of boxing gloves? Or maybe take one in the body? Come on you can take it, live a little or maybe not.
Boxing gloves were around in some form for over 3000 years. It is the oldest sport that stood the test of time. It has been banned and brought back and so on... It's a controversial sport, lets put it that way. The sport has changed since the birth of television and the disgrace of money corrupt it all.
We're all familiar with the boxing gloves that we see in the amateurs and professionals today. With the padding and different sizes, you still get bruises, cuts, bloody lips and a bloody nose. If a punch is accurate which happens a lot, a broken nose is the result or a broken hand or finger. It's a hurtin' business! It doesn't matter if you're receiving or giving. If you ask me it's nothing compared to the Greek and Roman period!
Greek boxers used himantes which was straps of soft ox-hide around their hands to strengthen the wrists. It was also wrapped around the first knuckles of the fingers and ran diagonally across the palm to the back of the hand. The thumb was always uncovered, and finished with tying around the wrist or the forearm. To make the blows more punishing, they used straps of hard leather around the knuckles of the fingers.
The Romans took the idea of the boxing glove from the Greeks and invented the caestus, which is almost like the himantes but it is reinforced with iron and lead and attached metal studs and spikes to the strips of leather. The loser ended up dead or permanently maimed. When the sharp spikes were added, the boxers paid more attention to a defensive skill.
Boxing fell apart after the fall of Rome.
It was revived in the 18th century in England but this time all of the leather and metal studs were not used anymore. It was the simplicity of the bare-knuckle era. Boxing had a civilized approach and it didn't take long before the gloves came back to the picture. James Figg, was the first english bare-knuckle heavyweight champion and had the first boxing academy. One of Figg's pupils, Jack Broughton became the 2nd heavyweight champion and was known as the father of english boxing. Broughton drew up the first formal rules for the sport and also credited with the invention the first modern padded boxing gloves, known as 'mufflers'. However, these mufflers were only used in practice and for informal boxing matches. The major public boxing matches were still bare-knuckle events.
Under the new set of rules called The Queensbury Rules of 1866-67 would be the end of the bare-knuckle era. These rules required the use of padded boxing gloves for all boxing matches and it really went into effect by the 20th century.
The last of the bare-knuckle boxing champions was John L. Sullivan. He lost his championship in 1892 under the Queensbury Rules to 'Gentleman Jim' Corbett and both combatants wore padded boxing gloves.
With the MMA in full effect, it is sort of history repeating itself when you mix boxing with wrestling just like they did during the Greek era. I'm not knocking the MMA but to me it's a legalized street fight with a lot of money behind it. The gladiators of the day did it to get out of slavery. Fight for money or fight for freedom? What's better for you?
So there you have it! A short and sweet science of the boxing glove history. Some say that the bare-knuckle era was a luxury. It kind of is when you think about it.