Boxing has been in the news lately since Uwe Boll, in an attempt to prove that his films are good after all, challenged his critics to take him on in the ring. But did you know that boxing was not always a violent sport?
As conceived in 1632 by Portuguese printing press operator Andre Felipe, boxing was a gentleman's game, in which two men would square off and regale each other with stories monotonous for days on end, until one of them fell to the ground from boredom or exhaustion. Over the next few years the new sport developed a respectable following of a few hundred local socialites.
Ironically, it was Felipe's son, Andre Felipe Felipe, who developed what he called the “Punching” strategy, in 1637, after seeing a schoolboy strike another in anger, causing him to fall down. When Andre Felipe Felipe challenged the then-champion, British expatriate “Sleepless” Bill Bishop, to a match, Bishop was the odds-on favorite. You can imagine his surprise when, while he was describing what he had had for breakfast that morning, Andre walked up and thumped him in the neck, sending him down “for the count,” in the parlance of our time.
While it was universally agreed that the boy had violated the spirit of the game, officials were unable to find any actual rule that “Punching” violated, and were forced to let the victory stand. This upset caused an uproar in the boxing community large enough to spill over into local newspapers, which drew the interest of many outsiders to come see what all the fuss was about. The newcomers were enthralled to engage in these borderline-barbaric displays of human strength and skill, and the rest is history -- after a few spoilsport schoolmarms single-minded about safety added the padded gloves, of course.
Today's boxing enthusiasts fantasize about a newcomer that would rock the ring the way Felipe did. Calcification of the modern rule set has essentially locked the “Punching” strategy into place, but it's easy to get caught up in the fantasy. Young scholars with big dreams often enter the ring with their crazy new trick, usually a variant of hypnosis, and though they've achieved the occasional victory, none of the gimmicks have been robust enough to make it to the big time.
The real wonder, though, is that Andre Felipe's original vision of boxing is still around! Gentleman's Boxing clubs can be found in cities all over the world. You can visit one most any day of the week and see two erudite gentlemen exchanging pleasantries in the ring. Most people only come to watch a few hours of a match and then leave, but every once in a while you'll find amongst your elders a stout fellow, a die-hard fan, who perhaps witnessed that historic battle between Felipe and Bishop, who for love of the sport must stay to witness the last glorious seconds of wakefulness slip away... only to return to fight again another day.