Defined broadly as two people punching each other, boxing is arguably the oldest of all sports. It is rules, however, which separate "boxing" from simply "fighting".
The ancient Greeks are generally credited with being the first to institute rules and make boxing a true sport. Many historians cite the inclusion of boxing in the Olympic games as early as 688 B.C. as the sport's birth date.
Boxing grew in stature during Roman times, with contestants often wearing fist coverings which could result in battles to the death. While boxing saw its popularity decline after the fall of Rome, it was destined to make a big comeback.