Sporting Vernacular 26. Boxing

THE WORLD'S finest amateur boxers gather in Houston tomorrow for the World Amateur Championships. "Boxing" is of unknown origin (perhaps related to the Old Teutonic boki-, or "blow"); "box" appeared about 600 years ago as a noun, as in "a box round the ears". By the 18th century, it was being used in a sporting context, and in 1711 Addison wrote in the Spectator of "the pleasures of Boxing."

Further to last week's item on "steroids", Michael Diver, Senior Lecturer in Clinical Chemistry at the University of Liverpool, writes: "The prototype and parent of a myriad of steroids is an ancient compound found in bilestones, and topical today. It was known to ancient Egyptians, and the Greeks, who named it appropriately "Cholesterol" (chole=bile, stereos= solid)."

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