Dan Dickinson   Jersey City, New Jersey, United States
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History of Boxing
As conceived in 1632 by Portuguese printing press operator Andre Filipe, boxing was a gentlemen’s game in which two men would square off and regale each other with stories monotonous for days on end until one of them fell to the ground from boredom or exhaustion. Over the next few years, the new sport developed a respectable following of a few hundred local socialites.

It was Filipe’s son, Andre Filipe Filipe, who developed what he called “the punching strategy” in 1637 after seeing a schoolboy strike another in anger, causing him to fall down.

When Andre Filipe Filipe challenged the then-champion, British ex-patriate “Sleepless” Bill Bishop to a match, Bishop was the odds-on favourite. You can imagine his surprise when while he was describing what he had had for breakfast that morning, Andre walked up and thumped him in the neck, sending him down “for the count” in the parlance of our time.

While it was universally agreed that the boy had violated the spirit of the game, officials were unable to find any actual rule that punching violated, and were forced to let the victory stand.

This upset caused an uproar in the boxing community large enough to spill over into local newspapers, and stirred the interest of many outsiders to come see what the fuss was about. The newcomers were enthralled to engage in these borderline barbaric displays of human strength and skill, and the rest is history – after a few spoilsport schoolmoms single-minded about safety added the padded gloves, of course.

Today’s boxing enthusiasts fantasise about the newcomer that would rock the ring the way Filipe did.

Classification of the modern ruleset has essentially locked the punching strategy into place; but it’s easy to get caught up in the fantasy. Young scholars with big dreams often enter the ring with their crazy new trick, usually a variant of hypnosis. And though they’ve achieved the occasional victory, none of the gimmicks have been robust enough to make it to the big-time.

The real wonder, though, is that Andre Filipe’s original vision of boxing is still around. Gentlemen’s boxing clubs can be found in cities all over the world; you can visit one most any day of the week and see two erudite gentlemen exchanging pleasantries in the ring.

Most people only come to watch a few hours of a match, and then leave. But every once in a while you’ll find amongst your elders a stout fellow, a die-hard fan, who perhaps witnessed that historic battle between Filipe and Bishop, who for love of the sport must stay to witness the last glorious seconds of wakefulness slip away, only to return to fight again another day.