The earliest accounts concerning the sport date to the 13th century. Supposedly, fist fighting was practiced even prior to the Christianization of Kievan Rus', at celebrations dedicated
Metropolite Kiril, in 1274, created another one of many personally-instituted rules, declaring expulsion from Christianity for any of those who fist-fight and do not sing a prayer or hymn
at the burial of someone who died during a fist fight. The government itself never supported, but also never opposed fist fighting.
Russian boyars used the sport as mass entertainment, and acquired the best fighters for competitions.