Boxing as a sport has evolved since its origin. What was seen as merely a pass-time in the ancient times, is now a full-fledged sport that is treated with a lot of respect and honor. The history of boxing will tell us that this sport originated in Europe, most widely believed in Greece. It will also tell you that the form of boxing that we see today, with all the strict rules and regulations, is quite different from the original sport. Boxing was prevalent about 6000 years ago in Ethiopia.
Cave paintings and engravings in Iraq depict people engaged in a sport that resembles boxing, which can lead people to believe that it was either an early form of boxing or a different sport very closely related to boxing. The Greeks and the Romans seemed to have enjoyed and exploited this sport to the maximum. The Romans were the ones who introduced the concept of it being played within a ring. Since then, there's been no looking back. Boxing spread far and wide to all parts of Europe and America, especially after World War II. It gained fierce popularity everywhere it went, giving rise to some of the most intense boxing legends of all time. This SportsAspire article will throw some light on these greats.
3 of the Best Boxing Legends of all Time
Some people enter a field of work, they make their money, get a little fame, and are satisfied with being in the shadows rather than in the limelight. They work moderately hard for the time that they need to and then retire into their quiet lives. Then there are those who enter a field of work because they feel a genuine passion for the work. They give it their best and will not settle for anything less than perfection.
They work hard to achieve the pride and glory and it's generally a while before another person comes along and surpasses them. This is the story of some of the greatest boxers of all time. They put their heart and soul into boxing and it rewarded them with insurmountable respect and adoration. Let us take a look at some of the boxing greats who rendered a whole new meaning to the sport.
"Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee."
If there's one name in the boxing world that people will never not know, it's Muhammad Ali. Born as Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., on 17th January 1942, Ali is hailed the superstar and the all-time great in the field of boxing. He participated in 61 professional fights and lost only 5 of them. He has been the world heavyweight champion thrice, making him the best there ever was. He also won the gold medal in Rome in 1960 during the Summer Olympics.
What made Ali take up boxing? Well, the story goes that a police officer, Joe Martin (who was also his first coach), saw him in a hot temper when some kids stole his bike. He advised Ali to turn towards boxing to vent out his frustration. Ali has been trained by Fred Stoner and Chuck Bodak, both very famous names in boxing. After his gold medal in 1960, the next three years saw Ali win all 19 of his fights, out of which 15 were knockouts. He retired in 1981, after being subjected to numerous injuries and other health-related issues which culminated into Parkinson's disease soon after he announced his retirement. He has been active in human rights activities and other social causes ever since.
Sugar Ray Robinson
"My business is hurting people."
Walker Smith Jr. was Sugar Ray's real name. There's an interesting story behind why he was named 'Sugar Ray Robinson'. This is what happened: Smith borrowed his friend, Ray Robinson's card at a gym to go boxing. When a coach, George Gainford, saw him box, he was impressed because 'Ray' had moves that were 'sweet as sugar' and offered to be his trainer. The name Sugar Ray stuck and that's how people have known him ever since. Robinson fiercely defended his welterweight championship for 5 years from 1946 to 1951, making him the first ever person to do so.
In his extensive career that spanned 26 years, he participated in 200 pro bouts. An interesting incident that took place in June 1947 was when he was supposed to fight Jimmy Doyle. He dreamed the previous night that he accidentally killed Boyle. He tried to persuade the people to cancel the match, but a priest convinced him otherwise. In that fight, he did defeat Boyle by a knockout, but Boyle succumbed to the injuries sustained in the fight. Another setback came in the form of a heatstroke in the Yankees Stadium in 1952 against Joey Maxim.
The heat got the better of Robinson, and even though he had a perfect lead as per the score cards of the judges, he collapsed in the middle of the ring and could not get up in time for the bell. That was the only knockout in his entire career. Following this, he began a career in the entertainment business with tap dancing and singing. He retired from boxing on 11th November, 1965 and was given a huge trophy and honored by a Sugar Ray Robinson Night on 10th December in the same year.
"I still can't believe Muhammad Ali knows my name. It astounds me he knows who I am. I first met Ali in 1976. I was locked up in a juvenile home and he came to visit. I've never forgotten it."
Michael Gerard Tyson is the feared Mike Tyson. He was the youngest man in history to have won the heavyweight championship at the World Boxing Council, World Boxing Association, and International Boxing Federation. Many people believe that his technique which involved perfect coordination, terrific hand speed, and a very strong defense, combined with his signature 'peek-a-boo' moves made his opponents wary of him.
What Mike Tyson is most famously known for, apart from his excellent boxing style and accomplishments, is his furious behavior even outside court. He has been amidst a lot of controversies including a rape charge for which he was imprisoned. He made a comeback and went on to bite off a portion of his opponent Evander Holyfield's ear. He went on to participate in fights that had mixed results. His dwindling streak continued for quite some time, and finally in 2005, Mike announced his retirement, which brought an end to one of the most legendary boxing fighters ever seen.
The boxers mentioned above are not the only ones that have made a name for themselves in the field. Given below is a list of other famous boxers who have shone in their careers as well.
- George Foreman
- Joe Frazier
- Sonny Liston
- Rocky Graziano
- Sammy Angott
- Ricky Hatton
- Leon Spinks
- Lennox Lewis
Boxing as a sport and as a means of entertainment has been in numerous controversies and has seen its share of ups and downs. But that has not stopped it from becoming one of the most popular sports. Thanks to these boxing legends, people turn to this sport and enjoy the finesse and skill that they bring to it.