Boxing is among the world's oldest and most popular sports. Its origins as a bare knuckled, toe-to-toe athletic contest for sport date back thousands of years. What began as rudimentary fist fighting in the Middle East some millennia ago later spawned a pretty brutal spectacle in Ancient Greece and Rome. This begat the more civilized “gentle art” of self defense in 18th Century England, which ultimately gave birth to the organized "sweet science" we know today with rules, a scoring system, and protective equipment.
The birth of modern boxing, sometime around the early 1700’s, was something more akin to today’s MMA, with fights that might include grappling and simple weapons while employing very few rules. These early matches could go on indefinitely without a break, there were no weight classes and someone like Bernard Hopkins, at age 50, would not be considered old for the sport. Many fighters suffered debilitating injuries, and it was not uncommon for a match to end in a fatality. Eventually the pens where the fighters engaged in battle started being lined by ropes in place of the wood beams that were commonly used prior. During this time, women were also getting involved in the sport and would even be pitted against men due to a scarcity of opponents. Although the brutality of the style and the lack of rules and protections seemed to favor men, these women held their own and were often victorious against the opposite sex.