The earliest records of boxing are from Egypt in 3000BC, while it quickly became one of the cornerstones of the ancient Olympic Games in Greece from the 23rd Olympiad in 688BC. The very first champion was Onomastos Smyrnaios.
In ancient times, boxers protected their hands with leather, but as the Romans adopted the sport and included it in their rosta of too-the-death gladiatorial contests, these were replaced with a glove with metal studs, called a cestus.
The first recorded boxing match was held in England in 1681 with the first bare-knuckle champion declared in 1791, but it was not until several years year, in 1743 that Jack Broughton developed the first set of rules. It wasn’t until 1867 when what we know as modern boxing began, with amended rules which included the duration of rounds.
Boxing is often referred to as one of the oldest and most traditional of sports, its acceptance as an Olympic discipline can be traced back to the ancient Greeks in 688BC.
Modern boxing was then introduced as an Olympic sport in St Louis in 1904 at the III Olympiad with seven weight categories and clean sweep from the US. In 1912 the boxing tournament was cancelled for the Stockholm Games, due to former Swedish law banning the sport at the time. However, following World War I the boxing tournament was once again reinstates at the 1920 Antwerp Olympic Games in Belgium.
An incredible 41 countries have secured at least one Olympic title I boxing events between 1904 and 2008 with the US being the most successful.
Boxing wasn’t on the itinerary of ancient Olympic sports that made up the first modern Summer Games in Athens, Greece, in 1896 as it was considered "ungentlemanly, dangerous and practiced by the dregs of society".
Its worldwide popularity ensured that it was included in the 1904 Summer Games in St Louis, USA, though. Since then, it has been a regular fixture in the Olympic schedule, producing a number of great champions, including Hungarian Laszlo Papp, Cubans Felix Savon and Teofilo Stevenson and American Paul Eagan, who was also a Winter Games gold medallist in the bobsleigh in 1932.
Probably the most famous of them all, though, was Cassius Marcellus Clay, who won gold in the light heavyweight contest in Rome in 1960, and later went on to become perhaps the greatest professional heavyweight boxer of all time under the name Muhammad Ali.