Q-Bits From my Personal Collection – Sierra Championship Boxing, the most extensive sports game created for microcomputers…

Welcome to another Quick Bits article. I’ve earlier covered Evryware’s Two Manhunter titles published by Sierra On-Line in 1988 and 1989 but Evryware’s relationship with Sierra dates all the way back to 1983 when the company secured a publishing deal for its first IBM PC title, Championship Boxing.

In 1979 brothers Dave and Barry Murry, as a hobby project, created an air traffic control radar simulator, simulating the air traffic at McChord Airforce Base where Barry was working as an air traffic controller. The project ignited an interest in creating games for the fledging home computer market and in 1980 Dave and Joe Gargiulo, established Evryware, initially to develop arcade-style games for the CP/M operating system and the Heathkit/Zenith Z-89 personal computer. The first three years saw a dozen arcade games developed for the simple and now more or less antiquated Z-89 platform before the company looked to the much more capable and popular x86 architecture used in the IBM PC, PCjr, and the numerous IBM PC compatibles on the market.

The first game for the IBM platform was Championship Boxing. The Murry’s being big fans of the sport, wanted to create the most elaborate boxing game to date, bringing the excitement, strategy, and blow-by-blow action of professional boxing into the comfort of people’s homes. Unlike earlier efforts with boxing games being nothing more than simple arcade games, the Murry’s wanted to create a game that included both arcade, simulation, and strategy and where you not only could build your own boxer but also recreate history’s greatest bouts from a list of 50 of the greatest boxers of past and present. Dave tackled the programming while Barry created the impressive bold graphics and animation. Championship Boxing was initially to be published by Microsoft‘s new Home Software Division, but analysts at Microsoft decided the otherwise rapidly growing home consumer market still wasn’t big enough for it to invest in and withdrew from the deal. Luckily, Evryware’s contact person at Microsoft was an acquaintance of Sierra On-Line founder Ken Williams and told him about the game. Williams, impressed, contracted with Evryware and published the game as Sierra Championship Boxing for the IBM PC and PCjr in 1984.

Evryware’s Championship Boxing became Sierra Championship Boxing after Ken Williams of Sierra On-Line picked up and published it for the IBM PC and PCjr in 1984.
The game came with informative manuals, telling the history of boxing and explaining the art and strategy of the sport.
Included was also a Sierra Championship Boxing ticket.
This copy, which I was lucky enough to win at auction, is signed by Ken Williams

Sierra Championship Boxing allowed you to create your own fighter, defining such characteristics as weight, height, stamina, and best punch, or choose from a list of 50 famous boxers. Act as a trainer and decide strategies or play in arcade mode, controlling your boxer’s every move, squaring off against the computer or a friend.
The game was released in 4-color CGA and can be played in composite mode for better colors – on NTSC-capable monitors (the last fight in the video is in composite mode)

Sierra Championship Boxing was well received and in the June 1984 issue of Infoworld, it was hailed as the most extensive sports game created for microcomputers. The reviewer, Scott Mace, was excited as the formula could be reused, ushering in a new era of sports games. While technology and the consumer market were moving fast, Sierra kept faith in the title, and ports were created for the Commodore 64 and the newly introduced Commodore 128 in 1985. An Apple II version also materialized alongside a Macintosh version in 1986. Sierra Championship Boxing was marketed as late as 1988, a pretty good feat in a time when a game typically had a few months in the spotlight. No other sports titles from Evryware or Sierra On-Line using the same formula materialized.

Sierra Championship Boxing was ported to the Commodore 64/128 in 1985

The Commodore 64/128 version released in 1985, played just like the IBM PC version but looked and sounded a tad better

Sierra Championship Boxing was released for the Apple IIe and Apple IIc in 1986 alongside a version for the Macintosh

Evryware and the Murry siblings went on to create their fabulous Art of War series, published by Brøderbund, before returning to Sierra On-Line in the late ’80s with their chilling and dark Manhunter series of adventure games.

Sources: Infoworld, Wikipedia, Sierra On-Line 1988 catalog, PC Magazine…

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