History
Evolution of Professional Boxing
pro•fes•sion•al [pruh-fesh-uh-nl] noun
A person who engages in a study, sport, or other activity for financial benefit rather than for pleasure.

In 1891, the National Sporting Club (N.S.C.), a private club in London, began to promote professional glove fights at its own premises, and created nine of its own rules to augment the Queensberry Rules. These rules specified more accurately the role of the officials, and produced a system of scoring that enabled the referee to decide the result of a fight. The British Boxing Board of Control (B.B.B.C.) was first formed in 1919 with close links to the N.S.C., and was re-formed in 1929 after the N.S.C. closed.

In 1909, the first of twenty-two belts were presented by the fifth Earl of Lonsdale to the winner of a British title fight held at the N.S.C. In 1929, the B.B.B.C. continued to award Lonsdale Belts to any British boxer who won three title fights in the same weight division. The "title fight" has always been the focal point in professional boxing. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, however, there were title fights at each weight. Promoters who could stage profitable title fights became influential in the sport, as did boxers' managers. The best promoters and managers have been instrumental in bringing boxing to new audiences and provoking media and public interest.

Jack Dempsey

The most famous of all three-way partnership (fighter-manager-promoter) was that of Jack Dempsey (Heavyweight Champion, 1919-1926), his manager Jack Kearns, and the promoter Tex Rickard. Together they grossed US$ 8.4 million in only five fights between 1921 and 1927 and ushered in a "golden age" of popularity for professional boxing in the 1920s. They were also responsible for the first live radio broadcast of a title fight (Dempsey v. Georges Carpentier, in 1921). In the United Kingdom, Jack Solomons' success as a fight promoter helped re-establish professional boxing after the Second World War and made the UK a popular place for title fights in the 1950s and 1960s.

In the first part of the 20th century, the United States became the centre for professional boxing. It was generally accepted that the "world champions" were those listed by the Police Gazette. After 1920, the National Boxing Association (N.B.A.) began to sanction "title fights". Also during that time, Ring Magazine was founded and it listed champions and awarded championship belts. The N.B.A. was renamed in 1962 and became the World Boxing Association (W.B.A.). The following year, a rival body, the World Boxing Council (W.B.C.), was formed. In 1983, another world body, the International Boxing Federation (I.B.F.) was formed. By the end of the 20th century, a boxer had to be recognized by the three separate bodies to be the "Undisputed World Champion". Regional sanctioning bodies such as the North American Boxing Federation, the North American Boxing Council and the United States Boxing Association also awarded championships. Ring Magazine also continued listing the World Champion of each weight division, and its rankings continue being of the most appreciated by fans.

Simona Lukic and Jane Couch

Although women fought professionally in many countries, in the United Kingdom the B.B.B.C. refused to issue licences to women until 1998. By the end of the century, however, they had issued five such licenses. The first sanctioned bout between women was in November 1998 at Streatham in London, between Jane Couch and Simona Lukic.