What Was Boxing Called in Ancient Greece?

Boxing is a sport that has been around for centuries, with its roots tracing back to ancient Greece. However, boxing in ancient Greece wasn’t called boxing as we know it today.

So, what was it called? Let’s dive deeper into the history of this ancient sport and uncover its original name.

The Origins of Boxing in Ancient Greece

Boxing was a popular sport in ancient Greece and was even included in the Olympic Games. However, the form of boxing that was practiced during that time was quite different from modern-day boxing. In ancient Greece, boxing was more like a combination of what we now know as boxing and wrestling.

The Original Name for Boxing in Ancient Greece

The Greeks referred to this sport as “Pygmachia,” which translates to “fist fighting” or “fighting with fists.” The term Pygmachia comes from the Greek words “pygme” (fist) and “machia” (battle).

The Rules of Pygmachia

In Pygmachia, fighters were allowed to use their fists, but they also had the freedom to grab and throw their opponents. There were no time limits on fights, and there were no weight classes either. Fighters could fight until one of them gave up or was knocked out.

How Pygmachia Evolved into Modern-Day Boxing

Over time, Pygmachia evolved into modern-day boxing. The first recorded bare-knuckle prizefight took place in England in 1681. This marked the beginning of modern-day boxing as we know it today.

As time went on, rules were established to make the sport safer for fighters. Gloves were introduced to protect fighters’ hands from injury, and weight classes were introduced so that fighters could compete against opponents of similar size and strength.


In conclusion, boxing in ancient Greece was called Pygmachia, meaning “fist fighting” or “fighting with fists.” While this form of boxing was quite different from modern-day boxing, it certainly laid the foundation for the sport we know and love today.