Whether it was gladiators in the Coliseum of Rome or the bare-knuckle fighters of 17th century England, combatants have always been able to attract an audience. From its humble beginnings as illegal and amateur bouts that often took place on the streets, boxing has grown rapidly to become the recognised, popular sport that it is today.
Despite there being records of its existence as far back as the Roman times, boxing was only included as one of the sports in the Olympics in the early 20th century. In order for individuals to take part in boxing at the Olympics, it is necessary for them to retain their amateur status. However, doing well in this arena can still lead to an increase in their stature on the world sporting stage. Boxing at a professional level is much more popular.
Professional boxing is a massive industry, when compared to the sport at amateur level, though the athletes compete under very similar rules. There can be said to be a causal link between the celebrity status of professional boxers and the popularity of the sport. The combination of ability, fighting style and controversy can dictate the personality of the boxer, which can lead them to earn fans who are prepared to travel to see them fight.
The use of very effective promoters is another reason for the popularity of boxing in the sporting world. One example of this is Don King, who has built a personal fortune of $150 million and is the person who arranged the famous ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, for which he negotiated a $10 million purse. The addition of dramatics during weigh-ins and media conferences, for example, add to the tension and help to promote boxing matches further, demanding the attention of more fans from all over the world. This attention is additionally beneficial as it will enable the fight to earn from sponsors and advertisers.
The sport of boxing is more than a mere match, it becomes an event, especially when it takes place somewhere like Las Vegas. These often come after a large amount of promotion, which may have included posters that show the opponents standing toe to toe. This all increases the hype of a boxing match, leading to sales of tickets for live matches and pay-per-view.
Image: Peter Atkins – Fotolia.com