Why boxing overshadowed native European kickboxing styles and no-hold-barred sports in popularity

7BallZ

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Related to another thread I made.

Why did Western martial arts eliminate leg moves (esp kicks) as they became sportified (esp boxing)? | MartialTalk.Com - Friendly Martial Arts Forum Community

I am curious why boxing became hands down the most popular fighting sport of the west before MMA, overshadowing indigenous European styles that are centuries, if not thousands of years old and existed in some form (or had an ancestor style) such as Pankration, Savate, and local wrestling styles such as Icelandic (that more often than not was pretty much MMA utilizing handstrikes beyond punching and kicks or at least was No-Holds-Barred if it was purely grappling)?

I mean considering many of these styles used a variety of moves with different parts of the body and MMA today had quickly overshadowed boxing and is considered far more exciting than the sweet science by this generation (and even older people who grew up with boxing), I'm quite surprised these styles never became big in the West outside of their countries or specific regions. I mean with MMA exploding so much, you'd think that the people who codified the rules of the glove era would at least realize how exciting it is to see fighters attempt to knee, throw, sweep, kick, and other techniques in addition to punch.

Even boxing closest rival collegiate wrestling was never anywhere close in popularity.

So I am curious about this.
 

jks9199

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You seem to have an idea that you want to bring up on this. Maybe you should just bring it out, and let the discussion flow?
 

drop bear

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Not sure. I gues we would have to look at the history of boxing and how it developed. That universities did it could be a factor.
 

dw01

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would say that it has to do with a number of factors but in particular, in the UK, boxing was often taught as a lesson in schools, in a similar manner to that of college wrestling, though on a smaller scale.

The general opinion of Joe Bloggs in the street is that Pugilism, the art of fighting with your fists,is a fair method of fighting, whereas kicking, biting, etc, was seen as dirty. And to an extent, a lot of people today have that opinion. That's just what people are like.

On the other hand, as an organised sport, old Prize Fighting (boxing before the Queensbury rules) was massive throughout Europe, and it was also extremely popular with all classes of people, from lower class, to middle & upper classes, including gentry and aristocracy, which automatically gave it a massive advantage as it was covered in the local press, etc. Role on a few years to the inception of the Queensbury Rules - named after the Marquis of Queensbury, more aristocracy - and we have the sport of boxing that we have today. So basically over a hundred years we've had boxing engraved into our psyche. The likes of kickboxing is from the 60's or so. Pankration is way old, and probably made way for boxing, especially with the Queensbury rules giving it an element of 'legitimacy'. Again, leading back to my earlier comment of people seeing grappling, etc, as cheating. You can see how now.

Olympics, and massive pay days in the pro's, only gave boxing even more of an advantage. Even now, Kickboxing (k-1, Glory, etc) are leagues behind boxing on top-level pay. MMA is the same. They don't pay anywhere near a top-level boxing purse.

You're right though, today's generation are being brought up as more educated fight fans in general. They know MMA as a whole has more tools than boxing or kickboxing. But they also know that boxing still pays mega bucks at the top. I think boxing will always be the biggest payers for many, many years still, as i simply cannot see the shift being big enough to attract PPV and non-TV viewing figures in MMA, including the UFC, or any kickboxing promotion, that TV will invest enough.


However, for me, i think professional kickboxing (K-1, Glory) is the most exciting form of stand-up that you will see. More exciting than Muay Thai & Boxing, and skill-wise, it's leagues above the stand-up game of 99% of MMA's fighters.


And that's my cherry popped with my first forum comment. :)
 

JP3

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I'd agree witht he statement above which I'll paraphrase as "99% of the MMA/UFC fighters of today have worse stand-up skillsets than those folks over in K1.:"

That being said, you can watch the martial art systems in MMA evolve from UFC1 through... where are they now? UFC193? If you've got the time, you can see the techniques, the ones used "Inside the Octagon," literally evolving from year to year as people develop, emulate, transcend, modify them. I remember back int he beginning when a Gracie-trained BJJ black belt, with a simple but effective take-down was (after the fact) a 13:1 to 17:1 favorite). Toob ad I didn't snap to it fast enough for Vegas purposes. Then, there was the phase after that where the Gracie-rained, though still dominant, slid a bit, then merged witht he masses. Then, striking resurged as the guys in the fights needed something to differentiate what they did vs their opponents, and so forth.

We can "see" it evolving right in front of us (if you watch enough of them over the past 2 decades). You can see styles/techniques tried, fail or succeed, be copied and tried again, and they fail or succeed again or not, and the expirementation is much faster because, IMO, everyone is watching, recording, testing and training ti at their own schools, etc. It's aneat period.

But, in the end, each fighter has 2 legs, 2 arms, a head and various points on eht body which are more or less subject to damage. So, it becomes chess in a way.

Pardon the typos, hurriedly typing along.
 

Tez3

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would say that it has to do with a number of factors but in particular, in the UK, boxing was often taught as a lesson in schools,

I don't want to be disagreeable but boxing was rarely taught in schools and was banned altogether from schools which had it as part of PE in the early 1960s.
 

Drew Ahn-Kim

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So there's a very complex answer to this question which I do not have the proper qualifications to give nor the time to research, but its a combination of a multitude of things including several economic factors involved in prize fighting.

My really diluted answer is that Boxing or rather hand-to-hand punch based fighting has existed for a VERY long time and in nearly every culture. Several of the great ape's have a genetic tendency to throw an overhand right during confrontations. In general if a fight breaks out between non-trained individuals what does it turn into? A boxing match. It's in some ways the most universally understood style of fighting, and seemingly the most natural response in human beings.

Boxing was in the ancient Greek Olympics, it was in Rome, and a multitude of European cultures. My grandfather actually initially tried to train in boxing as a child before discovering their were more complex martial arts which he then went on to become fascinated with (I included videos from a guest seminar he did if you care for a brief explanation.) So I think Boxing is just far more pervasive and instinctual that we realize, while martial arts with additional techniques requires discovery and tutalage.

Relevant part starts at 8:16 in clip 1, and carries over into the beginning of clip 2.
 

Drew Ahn-Kim

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Also just to be clear which time period are you referring to?

There was some amazing innovations in the 70's in the Netherlands emulating Muay Thai with the infusion of far more elements of Boxing (particularly footwork and defensively) as well as Kyokushin Karate. It's contestable, but several in the MMA and K1 world believe the Dutch Style to be the supreme style of striking.
 

Finlay

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Boxing in the uk and probably other European countries used to include grappling and you were allowed to attack people on the ground.

It wasn't until one champion said he would only fight under the queensbury rules that things started to get cleaned up. I believe that boxing was kept and made safer with glove round etc so as young peole still had an outlet for their aggression. But the gentry of the time didn't want wrestling on the ground maybe seeing it as ungentlemanly brawling.

You can see similar evolution in Asian martial arts become more demonstration pieces etc

This is a very broad view of how I see it.
 

Transk53

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Also just to be clear which time period are you referring to?

There was some amazing innovations in the 70's in the Netherlands emulating Muay Thai with the infusion of far more elements of Boxing (particularly footwork and defensively) as well as Kyokushin Karate. It's contestable, but several in the MMA and K1 world believe the Dutch Style to be the supreme style of striking.

Probably and no doubt the Dutch would agree. Either way it is explosive striking and very enjoyable to watch.
 

Transk53

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Boxing in the uk and probably other European countries used to include grappling and you were allowed to attack people on the ground.

It wasn't until one champion said he would only fight under the queensbury rules that things started to get cleaned up. I believe that boxing was kept and made safer with glove round etc so as young peole still had an outlet for their aggression. But the gentry of the time didn't want wrestling on the ground maybe seeing it as ungentlemanly brawling.

You can see similar evolution in Asian martial arts become more demonstration pieces etc

This is a very broad view of how I see it.

Not sure about what cahmpion you are thinking of, but the Queensbury rules were made up for a fairer bout and a safer bout. To get around it, it was not unkown for dirty tactics to used. I read up on Jack Dempsey, it was said that he used weighted gloves. Pretty sure a member on MT linked this to me, but not sure. Anyway a very interesting read about the early days. Generally speaking and being sweeping here, a boxer will find any advantage they see worth exploiting, whether of pure mind or not.

The Saga of Jack Dempseys Loaded Gloves: Part 1
 

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