In boxing, everything has its price: it’s not called prize fighting for nothing. Leaving aside the amateurs, boxing has always been about people fighting for money. But where does it all come from?
The fight game’s first source of funds was gambling. In its simplicity, a boxing match almost cries out to be bet on. History does not relate whether the Sumerians were throwing down a few clay tokens on their favourite fighters, but I’d wager they were. What’s certain is that gambling was present at the start of boxing’s modern history in 18th-century London. In fact, it’s not all that much of a stretch to suggest that fist fighting was codified as a sport because the workers who flooded into the English capital from the countryside didn’t have space for traditional rural amusements and needed something new to bet on.