A simple punch was probably early man's first act of violence; it is instinctive. Irritate an infant and he or she will ball his or her fist and swat at you; it's what human's do. Punching is such a natural thing to humans, that apparently no one through the centuries thought it was special enough to merit mention, so there is little evidence of ancient punching techniques. As technology advanced, people were freed from having to work all day and night for their existence so they had more free time to think about more mundane things, such as why we punch the way we do.
Earliest evidence suggests that boxing was prevalent in North Africa during 4000 BC and the Mediterranean in 1500 BC. A Greek ruler named Thesus, who ruled around 900 B.C., was entertained by men who would seat in front of each other and beat another with their fists until one of them was killed. Over time, the fighters in the art of Pankration fought on their feet and wore gloves (not padded) and wrappings on their arms below the elbows, but were otherwise naked. Boxing was accepted as an Olympic sport (the ancient Greeks called it Pygmachia) in 688 B.C. Keeping their fingers free, fighters wore leather straps (called himantes) on their hands, wrists, and sometimes lower arms, to protect them from injury. For a guard, the fighters held the left arm held high and bent near the head, with the right arm free to hook and thrust.
In Rome, fighters were usually criminals and slaves who hoped to become champions and gain their freedom. However, free men also fought and fist fighting became so popular that even aristocrats started fighting, but that was banned by the ruler Augustus. In 500 A.D., the sport was banned by Theodoric the Great.
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