Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Kaleigh. Kaleigh Wonders, “Why is a boxing ring square?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Kaleigh!

Have you ever noticed how each sport has a unique name for the place in which it’s played? Basketball is played on a court. Football is played on a field. Hockey? A rink! Soccer? A pitch.

What about boxing? If you said a boxing ring, you’re correct! But isn’t that an odd name? Think about what comes to mind when you hear the word “ring.” What shape do you picture? Most people would think of a circle. After all, that’s the shape most rings take.

If you’ve ever seen a boxing match, though, you know that boxing rings aren’t round. In fact, they come in a completely different shape—a square. So why are they called “rings” if they’re not round?

The truth is that no one really knows for sure. Historians, however, think the term “boxing ring” evolved over many years along with the sport of boxing itself.

People have been pummeling each other with their fists for thousands of years. The earliest fights were likely necessary for survival when food and resources were scarce. Over time, fighting became a hobby people engaged in for sport. They would fight against an opponent to prove their toughness or to settle disagreements.

The earliest boxing fights were fierce, bare-knuckle brawls with no rules. Spectators would gather to watch. Often, they would naturally form a circle or ring around the fighters. This would maximize the viewing area around the fight.

Eventually, fighters began to face off inside roughly drawn circles on the ground. These circles established a boundary to keep the fight contained to a manageable area. The term “ring” likely came to be used for these fighting circles.

Often, spectators forming a ring around fighters would hold up a rope. They did so to create a boundary that would keep fighters in the ring. This also kept spectators from interfering with the fight. Eventually, the brutality of fist fighting inspired Jack Broughton, an English bare-knuckle fighter, to create a set of rules for boxing.

Broughton’s rules became the standard for the sport of boxing for nearly a century. Finally, in 1838, the Pugilistic Society introduced revised boxing rules. They also built the first square boxing ring. It was 24 feet on each side. It featured ropes along the sides to maintain a solid boundary to fight within. Despite its square shape, the term “ring” was still used. That’s because it had become ingrained in boxing lingo over hundreds of years.

Are you WONDERing why the Pugilistic Society chose a square shape over the traditional circle? The answer lies in the fact that squares are easier to construct. They also tend to be sturdier and offer greater flexibility and support. If you think about it, it makes sense. Blu-ray discs and pizzas are round. However, you won’t find any round Blu-ray cases or pizza boxes. They’re all squares or rectangles!

Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.SL.2, CCRA.W.4, CCRA.W.7

Wonder What's Next?

Tomorrow’s colorful Wonder of the Day might leave you hungry for more!