Boxing, and full contact, is a match between two pairs of champions belonging to the two main factions, the Nicolotti and the Castellani. The towns were divided for the occasion where... the Nicolotti are inhabitants from the area of San Nicolo dei Mendicoli, including Santa Croce, San Polo, part of Dorsoduro and part of Cannaregio, while the Castellani are inhabitants from the area... of San Marco, Lido, the rest of Dorsoduro and Cannaregio and, of course, Castello.
The match took place mainly on some bridges without rails. The champions located themselves on the four corners in places marked on the floor with a marble footstep, while the bridges are massed with crowds on both sides coming from both factions of participants, some armed with long poles to sustain their champions and to push the adversaries down in the water.
Soon the meeting between the champions was extended to colossal mass brawls, with many people wounded but rarely dead.
The marble footsteps, or sampe, can still be seen on Diedo bridge in San Marziale and on the Bridge dei Pugni (of the Punches) in San Barnaba. To tell the truth, these last ones were removed and substituted with roughly shaped ones during the so called "restorations" in 2005. During the late centuries of the Republic, the boxing duel between the Castellani and the Nicolotti was substituted by a more civil athletic competition, the Strenghts of Hercules.