Article By Serene Joshua, contributing writer
Fun Fact: Boxing is also known as Pugilism and boxers are called Pugilists.
The arena where boxers fight is called a Boxing Ring – but it is actually square.
So, you could ask – why is a boxing rings called a ring when it’s a square. And that’s a very valid question! Because professional boxing rings (and others too, for that matter) are square in shape.
Well, there’s a fairly simple explanation for it!
But before we get into why is a boxing ring a square, let’s look at the history of boxing, which will help us understand how the game evolved and how it got the name “boxing ring”.
Here’s what we’ll look at today:
Why are boxing “rings” sqaure?
A history of boxing
The founder of boxing rules
A look at boxing in 3 key points
- Boxing was played with no rules and in bare knuckles till a person named Jack Broughton came up with his rules in 1743
- Almost a century later these were revised by the London Prize Ring Rules in 1853, which said that boxing should be played in a square enclosure
- This was again revised by the Marquess Of Queensberry rules in 1867
Okay, so why is a boxing ring square?
Well, one explanation is fairly logical and simple, a square is just much easier to construct than a circle. They are also solid and provide better support for players in the ring.
If we look at it historically, the first fistfights had no rules and people who came to watch would form a circle around the match. Due to this, circles were eventually drawn on the ground and fighters had to stay inside that circle. This is probably how it came to be called a “boxing ring”.
After the London Price Ring rule (something we will explain more of later on) a box was introduced.
So why was it still called a ring?
Well, the term “ring” was used so widely that it was a very well-established term and people just continued to call it a ring despite it being a square.
So now let’s get into a bit of the history of boxing, and how it evolved. We’ll also look into why exactly the fights are conducted in a boxing “ring”.
How did boxing start? A short history of boxing
The boxing we know today is done indoors, with referees, gloves, mouthguards, medics, etc., but it wasn’t always played like this.
Fights between two people which were first played as a sport can be traced back to 4000 BC and were done without many rules.
Enter Jack Broughton
The rules changed in 1743 with the inputs of Jack Broughton, who is largely seen as the founder of boxing rules, or rather as the father of the British School of Boxing.
Broughton was an athlete who used to fight with his bare knuckles as a form of sport however, one game he played had drastic consequences for his opponent. This made him realize that this harsh game needed rules.
He then came up with a set of rules and called it ‘Broughton’s rules’, these stated that you cannot strike an opponent below the belt and prevented the hitting of a player when he’s down on the ground, and giving the opponent 30 seconds to get up if he’s down.
However, even after these rules were put in place, there were still a lot of changes to be made and this was doe through the London Prize Ring Rules about a century later.
London Prize Ring Rules
Broughton established an excellent starting point for rules regarding boxing and this was further improved upon.
The London Prize Ring Rules were established in 1853 by the British Pugilists’ Protective Association. These rules stated that boxing matches should take place in an enclosure of 24 feet and be guarded by ropes. These enclosures were square, and this is probably the first instance we can observe of a “square” boxing ring.
Kicking, head-butting, and hitting below the waist were prohibited. Each round would end if there was a knockdown, which was when the opponent falls to the ground and doesn’t get up.
As soon as the opponent went down the round ended and a new round began. In the new round the fighter who went down was given 30 seconds to get back up and an additional 8 seconds to get to the center of the ring and in this time period there can be no fighting. If the fighter couldn’t get to center of the ring during this time, they were declared the loser.
However, boxing was still done with a player’s bare knuckles!
Still, sounds pretty brutal right? Well, these rules were further improved upon a few years by the Marquess of Queensberry rules.
Marquess of Queensberry rules
In 1867 John Graham Chambers, who belonged to the Amateur Athletic Club in Cambridge felt the need to revise the rules of boxing to make it more popular and attract a larger crowd for the matches.
He identified that people, especially the upper class, felt that the sport was too harsh and violent for their liking. So, in order to get over this problem he came up with a new set of rules that focused more on the skills and techniques of players rather than the violence of the fight itself.
These new rules were different in a few ways. Firstly, he introduced fighting with boxing gloves which were padded. Secondly, each round had to be 3 minutes after which there would be a minute of rest. Thirdly, no wrestling was allowed, a player could only use their hands and lastly after a player was knocked down, they had 10 sends to get up and if they didn’t get up within this time the fight was over.
Young boxers preferred these new set of rules however this didn’t help in making boxing more popular, in fact with the change in people’s lifestyle in England at the time fewer and fewer people liked or approved of boxing as a sport.
The buzz around boxing then moved to America where it was well-received and became quite popular.
And there you have it, there’s no bizarre explanation for why a boxing ring is square but it’s still pretty cool. It’s also interesting to note how the sport we know as boxing today started as a game with no rules and was fought with bare knuckles!
Today, boxing is a popular sport played in most countries and has even made its way to the Olympics and has a stadium full of audience and a firm set of rules.
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