In 1751, a massive fist fight took place in the streets of St. Petersburg, prompting Empress Elizabeth to ban the organization of such activities. This is not the first time Russian fist fighting, also known as Russian bare-knuckle boxing or pugilism, was suppressed because of the violence involved. The sport was banned in 1684, 1686, and several more times after that, but it always continued to thrive.
Russian fist fighting has been practiced as a sport as early as the 13th century. Russian boyars, who were members of the aristocracy, used the sport for mass entertainment, with matches often showcasing the best fighters. Peter the Great reportedly took great interest in these fights, and Russian warriors were notorious for instilling fear in the hearts of their enemies with their skills in hand-to-hand combat.