You do not see many lions in Sheffield, indomitable or otherwise, but Serge Ambomo is determined to change that.
Ambomo was one of Cameroon’s five-man boxing team at London 2012.
“As soon as I got on the plane to come to England, I knew I was saved,” he says, suggesting he was not planning to return even then.
Boxing first appeared as a formal Olympic event in the 23rd Olympiad (688 bce), but fist-fighting contests must certainly have had their origin in mankind’s prehistory. The earliest visual evidence for boxing appears in Sumerian relief carvings from the 3rd millennium bce. A relief sculpture from Egyptian Thebes (c. 1350 bce) shows both boxers and spectators. The few extant Middle Eastern and Egyptian depictions are of bare-fisted contests with, at most, a simple band supporting the wrist; the earliest evidence of the use of gloves or hand coverings in boxing is a carved vase from Minoan Crete (c. 1500 bce) that shows helmeted boxers wearing a stiff plate strapped to the fist.
The earliest evidence of rules for the sport comes from ancient Greece. These ancient contests had no rounds; they continued until one man either acknowledged defeat by holding up a finger or was unable to continue. Clinching (holding an opponent at close quarters with one or both arms) was strictly forbidden. Contests were held outdoors, which added the challenge of intense heat and bright sunlight to the fight. Contestants represented all social classes; in the early years of the major athletic festivals, a preponderance of the boxers came from wealthy and distinguished backgrounds.