Boxing's Memorable Milestones
Many milestones mark memorable moments during boxing’s history of more than 100 years. And the story continues. The first verifiable report of a bareknuckle fight in England appeared in the London Protestant Mercury in 1681. However, this type of fighting did not develop into a sport for a long time.
Even at the start of the 20th century, “boxing” was still a crude activity; barely different from the barge fights in which men spilled blood to show their courage and skills. Only during the early part of the 20th century did boxing become a recognised sport that received considerable publicity in the press.
The rules have changed and boxing has
developed into a multi-faceted industry; a
sport that still has many detractors. But even in these modern times, thanks largely to television, boxing remains a popular form of entertainment.
To follow its history is a fascinating
exercise. It is an intriguing story, packed
with every emotion known to man.But to cut a long story short, let’s look at some of the landmarks along the road during the past 450 years:
1681 – First known report of a prize fight
is published in the Protestant Mercury
1719 – James Figg becomes the first recognised champion of England.
1723 – Opening of The Ring in Hyde Park, London, by order of King George 1.
1743 – First set of written rules for boxing drafted by John Broughton and friends at Broughton’s Amphitheatre in Tottenham Court Road, London. The seven rules became known as the Broughton Rules (August 16).
1747 – The first boxing book, A Treatise upon the useful Science of Defence by Captain John Godfrey, is published.
1750 – The Duke of Cumberland persuades parliament to ban boxing in England after the bare-knuckle fight between John Broughton and Jack Slack. Only Broughton’s boxing academy was closed. (April).
1790 – The first known boxing magazine, Boxing Reviewed, is published in England by Thomas Fewtrell.
1810 –Tom Cribb of England beats Tom Molineux, a former American slave, in the first major international contest.
1812 – Pierce Egan, boxing’s first historian of note, produces his first volume of Boxiana .
1814 – The Pugilistic Club is formed at the Thatched House Tavern in London. Lord Byron spars with Gentleman John Jackson at the opening.
1820 – John Jackson is ordered to enlist prize-fighters to keep order at Westminster Abbey in London on the occasion of the coronation of King George IV.
1824 – The first grandstand is erected for spectators to watch a prize-fight. The contestants were Tom Spring and Jack Langen, who met at Worcester Race course in England.
1838 – The British Pugilists Protection Association is formed and the London Prize Ring Rules introduced.
1860 – Tom Sayers of England and John C Heenan of America draw over 42 rounds in the last great prize-fight to be staged in England.
1867 – The Queensberry Rules are published by John Graham Chambers. There are only 12 rules but they are destined to change the face of boxing.
1882 – John L Sullivan beats Paddy Ryan in nine rounds to become the last bareknuckle heavyweight champion.
1889 – In the last heavyweight fight fought under prize-ring rules, John L Sullivan of America beats Jake Kilrain of Ireland outside Richburg, Mississippi.(July 8).
1890 – George Dixon becomes the first black man to win a world title when he knocks out Nunc Wallace in the 18th round at the Pelican Club in London for the featherweight championship. (June 27).
1891 – The longest bare-knuckle fight in Africa takes place between Barney Malone and Jan Silberbauer outside Kimberley. The fight lasted 5 hours and 30 minutes. Malone was declared the winner after 212 rounds.
1892 – The National Sporting Club of London opens its doors at 43 King Street, Covent Garden. The NSC was destined to administer the sport in England until 1929.
1893 – James J Corbett knocks out John L Sullivan in the 21st round in New Orleans in the first heavyweight championship fight fought under Queensberry Rules. (September 7).
1893 – The longest recorded fight with boxers wearing gloves takes place between Andy Bowen and Jack Burke in New Orleans. The men fought for 7 hours and 19 minutes (110 rounds). The result? A draw. (April 6).
1894 – Thomas Edison films the first boxing exhibition between James J Corbett and Peter Courtney in Orange, New Jersey. (September 7).
1897 – The world heavyweight title fight between James J Corbett and Bob Fitzsimmons in Carson City, Nevada, becomes the first to be successfully filmed. (March 17).
1897 – The first death recorded in a world championship fight occurs when Jimmy Barry knocks out Walter Croot in the 20th round of a bantamweight contest at the National Sporting Club in London. (6 December).
1902 – Gum shields are invented by Dr Jack Marks of London. They were later popularised by Ted “Kid” Lewis.
1909 – The first edition of the world’s oldest continuously published boxing paper, the British weekly Boxing News, is published in London under the title Boxing. (September 11).
1914 – Jimmy Clabby becomes the first boxer to appear in a film. He plays a role in The Kidnapped Pugilist, produced by Carl Laemmie.
1919 – Tex Rickard and Anthony Drexel Biddle become the first men to judge a world heavyweight title fight when Jack Dempsey challenges Jess Willard for the title in Toledo, Ohio. (July 4).
1921 – The world heavyweight title fight between Jack Dempsey and George Carpentier at Boyle’s Thirty Acres, New Jersey, becomes the first to be broadcast on radio. The commentators were Major Andrew White and J O Smith. (July 2).
1922 – Nat Fleischer, sports editor of the New York Evening Telegram, publishes the first issue of The Ring magazine in New York. (February).
1922 – Battling Siki of Senegal becomes the first African to win a world championship when he knocks out Georges Carpentier in six rounds in Paris for the light-heavyweight title.
1923 – The Boxing Control Act is passed in parliament, making professional boxing legal in South Africa.
1924 – Frankie Genaro (real name Frank DiGennaro) becomes the first Olympic gold medallist to win a professional world title: the NBA flyweight title.
1925 – The Ring magazine becomes the first publication to rate boxers.
1929 – Formation of the British Boxing Board of Control. Charles Donmall is appointed the Board’s first general secretary. (January).
1930 – The New York State Athletic Commission adopts the no-foul rule after the world heavyweight title fight between Max Schmeling and Jack Sharkey in which Schmeling was awarded the title on a foul. (July).
1932 – A crowd of 23 322, at the time a record for an exhibition bout, attends a four-rounder between Jack Dempsey and King Levinsky at the Chicago Stadium. (February).
1938 – The fight between Len Harvey and Jock McAvoy at Harringay Arena in London becomes the first to be televised. The TV signal was not seen by the public. (April 4).
1938 – Henry Armstrong becomes the first boxer to simultaneously hold three world titles when he outboxes Lou Ambers for the lightweight championship in New York. Armstrong was already the holder of the featherweight and welterweight titles. (August 17).
1941 – The last world heavyweight title fight to be scheduled for 20 rounds takes place in Detroit, with Joe Louis up against Abe Simon. Louis wins by knockout in the 13th round. (March 21).
1944 – The fight between Tippy Larkin and Lulu Constantino in Madison Square Garden, New York, becomes the first in which scorecards are announced. (February 9).
1947 – The first exhibition devoted entirely too boxing goes on show at the Museum of the City of New York. Entitled “The Ring and the Glove”, the exhibition later toured the United States.
1949 – Joe Louis retires as undefeated world heavyweight champion after making a record 25 successful defences. (March 1).
1952 – Zack Clayton becomes the first black man to referee a world heavyweight title fight when he officiates in the fight between Jersey Joe Walcott and Ezzard Charles at the Municipal Stadium in Philadelphia. (June 5).
1954 – The first world title fight in which both contestants were granted permission to remove their boots took place during a raging typhoon in Bangkok. Australia’s Jimmy Carruthers retained his bantamweight title against Chamrern Songitrat. (May 2).
1956 – Rocky Marciano retires as undefeated heavyweight champion of the world, the only champion to remain undefeated throughout his entire career. (April 27).
1957 – The US department of justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation order the International Boxing Club to disband as promoters, claiming it is an illegal monopoly. (March).
1958 – Sugar Ray Robinson wins the world middleweight title for the fifth time by beating Carmen Basilio on points in Chicago. (March 25).
1960 – Floyd Patterson becomes the first heavyweight to regain the world title when he knocks out Ingemar Johansson in the fifth round at the Polo Grounds in New York. (June 20).
1963 – The World Boxing Council is formed in Mexico City in response to the decision of the World Boxing Association to go international. (February 14).
1963 – The New York State Athletic Commission makes it mandatory for all boxing rings in the state to have four ropes. (June 8).
1969 – Muhammad Ali makes his acting debut on Broadway in a black power musical called “Buck White”. (December)
1974 – The first world heavyweight title fight to be staged in Africa takes place in Kinshasa, Zaire. Muhammad Ali regains the title by knocking out George Foreman in the eighth round. (October 30).
1976 – At the age of 17 years, five months and 24 days, Wilfred Benitez becomes the youngest man to win a world championship when he outboxes Antonio Cervantes for the junior welterweight title in San Juan. (March 6).
1977 – Golden Gloves Promotions promote their first tournament at the Wembley Ice Rink in Johannesburg. Charlie Weir and Bushy Bester top the bill. (August 29).
1977 – Eva Shain becomes the first woman to judge a world heavyweight title fight when Muhammad Ali outpoints Earnie Shavers at Madison Square Garden, New York. (September 29).
1979 – Stanley Vokwana becomes the first black to promote a world title fight in South Africa when he stages the WBA junior lightweight championship bout between Samuel Serrano and Happyboy Mgxaji in Cape Town. (April 14).
1980 – Peter “Terror” Mathebula becomes the first black South African to win a world title when he beats Tae Shik Kim on points for the WBA flyweight title in Los Angeles. (December 13).
1982 – Davey Moore knocks out Charlie Weir to retain his WBA junior middleweight title at the Ellis Park Rugby Stadium in Johannesburg in the first world title fight co-promoted by Golden Gloves. (April 26).
1984 – Headguards are made mandatory for the first time at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
1984 – The International Boxing Hall of Fame erects the Basilio-Backus Showcase in Canastota, New York. It led to the opening of a permanent Boxing Hall of Fame five years later. (August).
1984 – Greg Page knocks out Gerrie Coetzee in 3 minutes 50 seconds of the eighth round to win the WBA heavyweight title at Sun City when the automatic timer malfunctions. (December 1).
1986 – Mike Tyson becomes the youngest man to win the world heavyweight championship. At the age of 20 years, 4 months and 22 days, he stops Trevor Berbick in the second round in Las Vegas. (November 22).
1987 – The last of boxing’s 17 weight classes is established with recognition of the mini flyweight or strawweight division. Kyung-Yung Lee of Korea becomes the first world champion. (June).
1988 – Kaokor Galaxy joins his twin brother Khaosai as a world champion when he outpoints Wilfredo Vasquez to win the WBA junior bantamweight title in Bangkok. (May 8).
1988 – The last world title fight to be fought over 15 rounds takes place in Manila. Samut Sitnarupon retains his IBF mini flyweight title against Hwang In- Kyo. (August 29).
1990 – The Swedish Royal Opera House commission novelist Torbjorn Savfe to write a liberetto for an opera based on the career of Swedish heavyweight Harry Persson.
1990 – Golden Gloves co-promote the first world title fight to be staged in Israel. Welcome Ncita beats Fabrice Benichou in Tel Aviv to win the IBF junior featherweight title. (March 10).
1991 – Brian Mitchell becomes the first South African to win two world titles when he outboxes Tony Lopez for the IBF junior lightweight title in Sacramento. (September 13).
1991 – Stan Christodoulou becomes the first man to referee world title fights in every weight division when he handles the WBA super middleweight bout between Victor Cordoba and Vincenzo Nardiello in Paris. (December 13).
1992 – Michael Moorer becomes the first southpaw to win the world heavyweight title when he beats Bert Cooper for the WBO version of the title in Atlantic City. (May 15).
1993 – The Professional Boxers Association of Britain is formed in London under the guidance of Barry McGuigan. (February).
1993 – The largest paid attendance for boxing is recorded in Mexico City when 132 274 people pack the Aztec Stadium for five world title fights promoted by Don King. (February 20).
1993 – Ruben Palacious becomes the first world champion to lose his title for testing HIV positive when he fails to pass six tests before his WBO title fight with John Davison in London. (April).
1993 – Three women – Patricia Jarman, Sheila Hormon-Martin and Eugenie Williams, are appointed to judge the WBA and IBF heavyweight title fight between Riddick Bowe and Jesse Fergusson in Washington, DC. (May 22).
1994 – George Foreman becomes the oldest man to win the world heavyweight title. At the age of 45 years, 10 months and 25 days, he knocks out Michael Moorer in the tenth round in Las Vegas. (November 5).
1995 – Golden Gloves stage their first world title fight in Soweto when they promote a double-header featuring IBF junior featherweight champion Vuyani Bungu and IBF champion Mbulelo Botile at the FNB Stadium. (April 29).
1996 – Sugarboy Malinga becomes the first South African to win a WBC title when he beats Nigel Benn for the super middleweight championship in Newcastle, England. (March 2).
1996 – Fransie Botha becomes the first IBF champion to be stripped of his title for testing positive for anabolic steroids. It happened after his championship fight with Alex Schulz in Stuttgart, Germany, in December 1995.
1999 – Vuyani Bungu makes the 13th successful defence of his IBF junior featherweight title by beating Victor Lerena at the Carousel Casino in Hammanskraal. (February 6).
2003 – Roy Jones Jr moves from lightheavyweight to heavyweight and outpoints John Ruiz to win the WBA title. (March 1).