Boxing is an ancient combat sport dating back to around 688 BC where it was used by the Greeks in the first Olympic games. It was further developed as a competitive sport in Europe, especially in Great Britain, but the sport had no universally recognized rules until 1743 when the Broughton rules were introduced.
Boxing was mostly carried out bare-knuckled until gloves gained popularity in the 19th century.
Over a hundred years ago gloves were mainly to protect the fighters’ hands. A boxing “glove” in the 19th century often simply consisted of only a long strip of leather wrapped around the hand to protect the knuckles. The advent of modern boxing gloves (wrapped hands in padded gloves) allowed for harder punches to be thrown.
Various basic punching techniques emerged as boxing developed and are now used in combinations and variations.
The most common boxing punches:
The jab is delivered from the front guard hand. It is a straight, rapid punch usually delivered to the opponent’s face. The jab is considered to be the top punch used by boxers due to it supplying its own defense while both jabbing and retracting.
However, the jab is a relatively weak punch because most of its power comes from the arms and shoulders and not the core. Therefore, it is often considered a defensive tool to back away an opponent and to set them up for a more powerful punch. An exceptional famous jabber was Larry Holmes.
Straight Arm or Cross
The straight hand punch is the power driver of boxing. The punch is delivered through the hand held farthest away from the opponent and uses the force of the core which is driven off the boxer’s back foot. This punch also derives extra power from the swing of the shoulders as the punch jettisons forward.
The cross punch, though a variation of the straight punch, is included because there is only a slight movement which sends the punching arm across the boxer’s body instead of straight ahead. This slight alteration in direction gives the punch an even greater amount of deadly force if landed solidly.
The lead hand which is used for jabbing is also used to throw a hook punch. A hook moves in a semi-circular motion to get around the opponent’s defenses and to connect with the target, usually in the head. Body bunches are often landed with the hook as well, especially when the fighters get tired. This technique is sometimes referred to as a rip punch to differentiate it from a head blow.
The hook punch also uses the torso’s power as the core is twisted to deliver the blow. However, because a hook is generally a shorter punch, it doesn’t deliver the force that a straight arm punch does. The hook can also be delivered from the back hand, although this isn’t too common. Famous boxers who effectively used the “left hook” (using the inner hand) include Mike Tyson and Joe Frasier.
This punch is thrown with the rear hand and is delivered in an ascending vertical method. The uppercut gets its power from the boxer bending the knees and thrusting the rear hand upwards into the chin or sometimes torso of the opponent.
The uppercut enters beneath the opponent’s defenses and is often used to either raise their head out from behind their defenses, or knock them off balance through an uppercut to the body, both of which set them up for additional punches. An uppercut to the chin and a swinging hook to the head is a powerful combination that has knocked out many boxers.