Minoan youths boxing, Akrotiri (Santorini) fresco. Earliest documented use of 'gloves'.
Fist fighting depicted in Sumerian relief carvings from the 3rd millennium BC, while an ancient Egyptian relief from the 2nd millennium BC depicts both fist-fighters and spectators. Both depictions show bare-fisted contests. In 1927 Dr. E. A. Speiser, an archaeologist, discovered aMesopotamian stone tablet in Baghdad, Iraq depicting two men getting ready for a prize fight. The tablet is believed to be 7,000 years old. The earliest evidence for fist fighting with any kind of gloves can be found on Minoan Crete (c. 1500–900 BC), and on Sardinia, if we consider the boxing statues of Prama mountains (c. BC).
 Ancient Greek boxing
Boxer of Quirinal resting aftercontest (Bronze sculpture, 3rd century BC)
Detail of leather straps
The right boxer signals giving up by raising his finger high (ca. 500 BC)
Main article: Ancient Greek Boxing
Homer's Iliad (ca. 675 BC) contains the first detailed account of a boxing fight (Book XXIII). According to the Iliad, Mycenaean warriors included boxing among their competitions honoring the fallen (ca. 1200 BC), thoughit is possible that the Homeric epics reflect later culture. Another legend holds that the heroic ruler Theseus, said to have lived around the 9th century BC, invented a form of boxing in which two men sat face to face and beat each other with their fists until one of them was killed. In time, the boxers began to fight while standing and wearing gloves (with spikes) and wrappings on their armsbelow the elbows, although otherwise they were completely naked.
Boxing was first accepted as an Olympic sport in 688 BC, being called Pygme or Pygmachia. Participants trained on punching bags (called a korykos). Fighters wore leather straps (called himantes) over their hands, wrists, and sometimes breast, to protect them from injury. The straps left their fingers free. Legend had it that theSpartans were the first to box as a way to prepare for sword and shield fighting.
 Ancient Roman boxing
In ancient Rome, there were two forms of boxing both coming from Etruscan boxing. The athletic form of boxing remained popular throughout the Roman world. The other form of boxing was gladiatorial. Fighters were usually criminals and slaves who hoped to become champions and gain theirfreedom; however, free men, women, and even aristocrats also fought. Gladiators wore lead "cestae" over their knuckles and heavy leather straps on their forearms to protect against blows. The deeply scarred and cauliflower eared figure of the Boxer of Quirinal show what a brutal sport it could be (matches often ending in the death or maiming of an opponent).
Eventually, fist fighting became sopopular that even emperors started fighting, and the practice was promoted by Caesar Neronis. A fight between the agile Dares and the towering Entellus is described at length in the Roman national epic Aeneid (1st century BC).
In 393 A.D., the Olympics were banned by the Christian emperor Theodosius, and in 400 A.D., boxing was banned altogether by Theodoric the Great as boxing being an insultto God because it disfigures the face, the image of God. However, this edict had little effect outside the major cities of the Eastern Empire. By this time, western Europe was no longer part of the Roman Empire. Boxing remained popular in Europe throughout the Middle Ages and beyond. Wrestling, fencing and racing (both chariot and foot) were never banned by the late Romans, as they did notcause disfigurement.
 Modern boxing
 Broughton's rules (1743)
A straight right demonstrated in Edmund Price's The Science of Self Defense: A Treatise on Sparring and Wrestling, 1867
Records of Classical boxing activity disappeared after the fall of the Roman Empire. However, there are detailed records of various fist-fighting sports that were maintained in different cities and...