1831, "heavyweight horseman," later "boxer or wrestler of a certain weight" (1896), from earlier welter "heavyweight horseman or boxer" (1804), possibly from welt (v.) "beat severely" (c. 1400).
... but at the end of the first German mile, Nature gave way, and this excellent mare was obliged to "knock under" to the extraordinary exertions she had made, and to the welter weight she carried, upwards of 13 stone. [The Sporting Magazine, September 1831]
c. 1400, "the cutting out of figures;" early 15c. as "the action of delivering blows with the fist," verbal noun from punch (v.). Related: Punching-bag "bag, generally large and heavy, suspended from the ceiling to be punched by an athlete, especially a boxer, for training or exercise" is by 1889 (also punch-bag); the figurative sense is attested by 1903.
"one who fights with the fists," 1789, from Latin pugil "boxer, fist-fighter," related to pugnus "a fist" (from suffixed form of PIE root *peuk- "to prick") + -ist. For sense development, compare punch (v.), also from a root meaning "to pierce." Related: Pugilistic "of or pertaining to fighting with the fists" (1789); pugilistically.
Pugil (n.) occasionally turns up in English as "boxer, fist-fighter" (17c.-18c), but it has not caught on; earlier it meant "a little handful or a big pinch" of something (1570s). Pugil stick (1962) was introduced by U.S. military as a substitute for rifles in bayonet drills.
UNTIL recently bayonet training has lacked realism. Bayonet instruction consisted of basic positions and movements, the fundamentals of bayonet fighting, and a practical examination conducted on the Bayonet Assault Course. This training is essential for the combat Infantryman; however, he completes his training without knowing what an actual bayonet fight is like. The dummies used in training cannot fight back or take evasive action. The only true test of an Infantryman's skill with bayonet is vicious, close combat against an armed opponent. [Lt. Wendell O. Doody, "Pugil, Man, Pugil!" in Infantry magazine, Nov.-Dec. 1962]
It forms all or part of: appoint; appointment; bung; compunction; contrapuntal; expugn; expunge; impugn; interpunction; oppugn; pink; poignant; point; pointe; pointillism; poniard; pounce; pugilism; pugilist; pugnacious; pugnacity; punch (n.1) "pointed tool for making holes or embossing;" punch (n.3) "a quick blow with the fist;" punch (v.) "to hit with the fist;" puncheon (n.2) "pointed tool for punching or piercing;" punctilio; punctilious; punctual; punctuate; punctuation; puncture; pungent; punty; Pygmy; repugn; repugnance; repugnant.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Greek pyx "with clenched fist," pygme "fist, boxing," pyktes "boxer;" Latin pugnare "to fight," especially with the fists, pungere "to pierce, prick."