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date: 30 November 2020


  • Robert Leslie Howland
  •  and Stephen Instone


In Greek and Roman boxing there was no classification of competitors by weight and so the advantage was generally with the heavier man.

The Greeks bound leather thongs (ἱμάντες) round their wrists and knuckles, to protect them rather than to increase the severity of the blow. Sometimes the fingers, or some of them, were left free, though this may have been the practice in the *pankration rather than specifically boxing. For training they used softer padded gloves (σφαῖραι). Body-blows were not generally used and the face was always the principal target.

The Romans used the caestus, a glove weighted with pieces of iron and having metal spikes placed round the knuckles, and boxing was often more of a gladiatorial show than an athletic sport. See agōnes; athletics; gladiators.

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