The practice of fighting for sport was in place in a number of Mediterranean civilizations by 1500 B.C. (and recent evidence suggests that it may have flourished in parts of eastern Africa before that). By the 7th century B.C., boxing had become a staple of the Olympic Games in Greece. Soon afterward, the Romans picked up the sport and introduced the word pugil (a noun related to the Latin pugnus, meaning "fist") to refer to a boxer. Boxing faded out with the decline of the Roman Empire, but resurged in popularity in the18th century. By the 1790s, "pugilist" and "pugilism" were firmly entrenched in the English lexicon.
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