James Figg and the Evolution of Boxing

James FiggThis month we will be covering the history and evolution of modern boxing. In particular we will be focusing on the life and times of James Figg (1695 – 1734); who is regarded as the father of modern boxing. As we will see, the boxing that Figg practised and taught was quite different from the boxing of today. Old style boxing included punching, kicking, grappling, throwing, weapons, etc. Indeed, the evolution of boxing has a great deal in common with the evolution of karate. Both arts were originally brutal and holistic, but became more and more specialised as time passed. These parallels are also explored in the podcast.

To illustrate how boxing was originally practiced, the podcast describes Figg’s bout with Ned Sutton in 1727. This bout included punching, throwing, ground-fighting, cudgels and swords! We also cover how Jack Broughton – Figg’s student and boxing champion for 20 years – introduced the rules that saw the banning of gouging and kicking a man when he was down.

Modern boxing has also had a strong influence on the way eastern martial arts are practised in the west. This is how it should be and is indeed the traditional way. Chinese systems were influenced by Okinawan culture and indigenous Okinawan fighting systems. That is how karate came into being. Japanese culture and its indigenous arts further influenced karate when it moved from Okinawan to Japan. It is only right and traditional that western culture and the indigenous western fighting arts also had an impact when the karate reached the west. The influence of western boxing on karate is also discussed in the podcast.

I hope you enjoy what will be the last podcast of 2008. This year has seen a huge number of people listen in and I’d like to express my sincere thanks to our long time supporters and those who have recently joined us. I’ll be back with another podcast in the early part of January 2009! Happy Holidays!

All the best,

Iain

James Figg and the Evolution of Boxing
Iain Abernethy