Boxing tattoos: the beginning of the noble sport

Yes, we’re truly passionate about boxing. And maybe have a nice Traditional boxer tattoo somewhere on our skin. So let’s take a look at how it all began.…

Boxing is as old as time because aggression is a fundamental part of human nature, whether in men or in women. Aggression, not in the sense of violence as an end in itself, but as self-defence.

The first examples of it can be found in Ancient Egypt, in old Greece or the Roman Empire. That fights were brutal in ancient times, but it was still a concrete example of a challenge between two men surrounded by an excited cheering crowd. The Middle Ages saw a decline in the popularity of barehanded fighting since there was a preference in this period for jousting or hunting wild animals.

Aaron Springs, Red Dagger Tattoo, Webster, USA
Aaron Springs, Red Dagger Tattoo, Webster, USA

Transformed in a sport

In fact it wasn’t until the Enlightenment (in the 18th century) that the wealthy rediscovered the allure of ancient times and the customs of primordial peoples. It was no coincidence therefore that the 18th century is seen by historians as the period when boxing was gradually transformed into a purely athletic activity. In other words, a sport.

The Noble Art according to Figg

The man that invented boxing was an Englishman called James Figg (1695-1740). His idea was simple and effective: the human body would be used to defend rather than to attack. And this is where the historic definition of boxing as the “noble art” came from: an elegant interplay of courage, muscle, intelligence and above all, speed.

Alessandro Lemme, Psycho Tattoo, Roma, Italy Alvaro Alonso, Malibu Tattoo, Sitges, Spain

The Broughton discipline

Jack Broughton was a key figure too in the long slow development of modern-day boxing, the creator of boxing as a discipline. He was a skilled athlete and an exceptionally intelligent man and his rules were introduced in the groundbreaking volume ‘London Prize Ring Rules’ first published in the summer of 1743 in the wake of a tragic incident. Jack himself had in fact accidentally killed an adversary (his dear friend George Stevenson) with a clumsy blow to the heart.

In order to prevent such a thing ever happening again, it was decided that boxing would only take place within a square space a yard wide (the forerunner of the ring) and the maximum time to recover from a punch would be thirty seconds (the forerunner of the Knockout). It was also decreed that no boxer could ever land a punch below the belt or when the adversary was on his knees or on the ground.

Dawnii Fantana, Painted Lady Tattoo Parlour, Birmingham, UK
Dawnii Fantana, Painted Lady Tattoo Parlour, Birmingham, UK

The Marquess of Queensberry Rules

Broughton’s rules were in force for about a century and a half, but fell into disuse only when boxing – which had meanwhile come to the attention of the Americans – felt the need for stricter regulation, merely as a question of business and to ensure the validity of fights. This was the reason why two quintessential Britons John Sholto Douglas and John Graham Chambers set about drawing up the famous Marquess of Queensberry Rules. And these are the fundamental rules of boxing as we know it today.

According to the Marquess, boxing gloves were mandatory in a regular match. Bareknuckle fighting would no longer be tolerated after 1888. The maximum number of rounds was to be established beforehand and this was generally done by the referee.

Andres Inkman, Black Ship, Barcelona, Spain Nikko Hurtado, Black Anchor Collective, Hesperia, USA

Rounds would last three minutes with a break of sixty seconds during which time assistants were allowed to intervene. The Knockout was shortened from thirty seconds to the ten seconds still in force today. Boxers were finally divided into categories according to weight (light, middle and heavy) and there could no longer be bloody matches between fighters of significantly different build. To cut a long story short violence was to become secondary to agility and the skill of individual punches.

Cecil Porter, Emporium 1476, Portland, USA Matteo Lupo, Stray Dog, Pescara, Italy Steve Wood, Sacred Tattoo NZ, Auckland, New Zealand Maria Eriksson, King Carlos Tattoo, Stockholm, Sweden Justin Hendrick, Players Club Tattoo Parlour, Huntington Beach, USA Gianni Orlandini, Luxury Tattoo, Grosseto, Italy Dan Smith, Captured Tattoo, Old Town Tustin, USA Carlos Fabra, Cosa Fina Tattoo, Polinya, Spain Bang Bang, Bang Bang Forever, New York, USA Matteo Pasqualin, The Inkers Tattoo Shop, Porto Viro, Italy

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