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Boxing A - Z

Glossary of Terms

Ever wondered what a Rabbit punch was? , low blow?, haymaker?....., well listed below is an index of terms widely used in boxing.


This is a technical term introduced in recent years by boxing's sanctioning bodies. It means an accidential collision of heads, where neither boxer is deemed to have used the head intentionally. Should the accidential butt cause a cut too servere to continue boxing, a "technical decision" may be given.


The use of the gloves, arms or shoulders to prevent a punch from landing on the intended target area.


The command from a referee when boxers are tangled up at close range and will not free themselves. When a referee shouts "Break", both boxers are expected to step back before continuing to box.


To use the head in a deliberate, intentional movement aimed at the opponent (usually his face). This is one of the most serious offences a boxer can commit.


Prize fighting term for blood.


When both boxers hold on the inside and do not attempt to punch. A referee will usually order the boxers to break quickly once he establishes that neither boxer is working effectively. It can be used as a chance to rest, or for one boxer to use his physical advantage in order to tire his opponent.


A punch thrown as a reply to the opponent's lead. Counter punching is an accepted method of attack. By drawing the opponent's lead, a good counter puncher can exploit openings which appear in his opponent's defence when the lead is thrown. Hand speed, a tactical brain and timing are essential for a counter puncher to be effective.


(a) In prize fighting days a cross meant a fixed fight.

(b) A cross is also a punch, thrown across the target with the "second" hand. Amateur boxers are taught to follow a lead punch, usually a jab with their leading hand, with a cross from the other fist (i.e left jab, right cross). The cross punch comes from shoulder level and is therefore usually aimed at the head or at the lower chest.


A referee has the power to disqualify any boxer who breaks the rules. He will allow a certain amount of leeway, but in his time almost will have been forced to disqualify a boxer who either refuses to obey his instructions, deliberately or repeatably fouls an opponent, or is guilty of serious misconduct. Under certain commissions, a disqualified boxer will have his pay witheld until he has appeared before a disciplinary hearing, at which point his punishment will be determined.


A fight which goes the scheduled distance, at the end of the fight the referee has both boxers level on points. In fights where three officials' cards determine the outcome, a draw can happen in three ways : (a) if one judge has boxer A in front, one has boxer B in front and the third has both fighters level ; (b) if two judges has both boxers level, while the third has one boxer ahead, in which case the majority verdict stands ; (c) If all three judges has the fight level.


Basically a move which is designed to deceive an opponent into thinking a certain punch is about to be thrown. It's an essential part of a boxer's tool-kit. Boxers who use feints as they move into attacking positions are less likely to get hit on the way in, while those who use the feint as a defensive tactic are less likely to get hit. "Feinting each other into knots" is a cliche used to describe two boxers who stand in punching range, deceiving each other with slight movements of the body or glove, and consequently cancelling out any attacking moves either boxer intends to make.


A fight which the outcome is predetermined by either both boxers or an outside party or parties. It happens rarely, and is usually very difficult to prove, although cynics who do not approve of the outcome of a fight will often sneer, without any evidence whatsoever to back up their accusations : "Ah, that was a fix!".


The receipts paid at the box office. The "gate" was originally used in prize fighting. where even though contests would be held in an open field, a gate would be set up, through which spectators had to pass, either paying with cash or by presenting a ticket which they had bought in advance. The great bare knuckle fighter of the eighteenth century, Daniel Mendoza, was one of the first to insist that boxers should work only in front of a paying audience. "Gate" can also mean the size of the crowd, but more accurately describes the amount of money paid by the public.


Called a mouthpiece in the U.S.A. Pioneered by Britain's great world champion Ted "Kid" Lewis, it fits over the gums allowing a boxer to bite down onto it and effectively clamp or tigthen his jaw. Medical officers of today insists on gumshields being worn, and referees are under instruction to replace them at the earliest opportunity should they fall out.


A wild punch, usually thrown round arm in a sweeping motion and in a measure of depression.


To use the bottom of the glove, which has rough edges and can therefore be used to injure an opponent, in a clinch is a serious foul. Similarly, it is an offence to rub an opponent’s face with the lace of the glove.


A boxer often holds if he is hurt. Technically, it is a foul, but usually a referee will allow a man to hold for a brief time if his opponent is continuing to work with at least one free hand. Some boxers hold in order to conserve in energy, or to disrupt the fighting rhythm of an opponent. Referee are more likely to penalise this kind of holding rapidly, but will often - unofficially - use their discretion if they feel a man is hanging on to allow his head to clear. But while he is holding, he can score no points and therefore will be loosing ground on the referee's card.


Any punch which lands below the imaginary line across the top of the hips. The height of the boxer's trunks or protector is irrelevant when determining a low punch, but it is up to the referee lower the trunks or protector of a boxer who wears them above the line of the hips.


A dangerous punch and a serious foul. The punch is named after the chop to the back of the neck which is the traditionally country method of killing a rabbit. It can cause serious damage to humans too! Not enough referees clamp down on it.


The "third man" in the ring. whose job it is to control the fight and ensure that the boxers stay within the rules. In early gloved contests at the national sporting club in London, where silence was observed during rounds, referees would follow the old prize-fighting tradition and sit outside the ring. Only if the boxers failed to follow his instructions would he enter the ring.


A punch which lands with the open glove. It should not be counted as a scoring punch. Often slaps make more noise than a legitimate blow, which to the uninitiated sounds impressive, but which actually does little harm.


when a fighter falls to the ground without receiving a punch. This is not a knockdown but a referee will normally order the standing boxer to step back while the fallen boxer rises. Before action resumes, the referee should check the boxer's condition and wipe his gloves free from any dustor debris from the canvas.


Movement of the head or shoulders without backward foot movement , to avoid a punch. Punches can be "slipped" on the way forward, but usually backward movement will make the fall short.



The ortodox way to box is with the left foot and left hand leading. This is considered the most effective way for a right-handed boxer to operate, although some left-handed fighters prefer to box from an ortodox stance. However, many right-handed youngsters who begin to box automatically put their right side forward in what is known as the southpaw stance. Most coaches will turn them around. Traditional coahes disliked boxers, left-handed or right-handed, to fight southpaw. There was an old saying that "southpaws should be drowned at birth". Today, coaches take a more relaxed view, and sothpaws seem to be increasing in number by the year.

The term is derived from baseball, where a pitcher traditionally throws from east to west. This way, as most games were played in the afternoon, pitchers were not pitching out of the sun. In northern hemisphere, right-handed pitchers therefore throw with their throwing arm to the north, left-handers to the south.


Boxing in the gym. A valuable training procedure whereby moves and technical skills can be fine tuned or taught. It should not be competitive, but too often is.


The term used when two of the three scoring officials vote for the same man and the third scores the fight to his opponent. This is not to be confused with a majority decision, when two of the three judges vote for a draw.


Derogatory term used to describe a boxer who has given in without showing sufficient courage.


This is a rule used by some governing bodies when a fight ends because of an injury. The bout goes to the scorecards, which are totalled. The boxer who is ahead on points at the time of the stoppage is awarded a Technical Decision - in effect, a technical points win.


This is used to describe a contest which ends because of an injury caused by an accidental foul before a predetermined number of rounds has been completed. In 1977, the most powerful sanctioning bodies met and ironed out a uniform set of rules for world title fights, which set the limit of four rounds. A more complicated variation of this rule was also used by some authorities in order to prevent a man winning by a foul. If, for example, a butt opened a slight cut on an opponent, but not one serious enough to curtail the contest, the boxer who committed the butt could not win the contest in the event of that injury worsening at a later stage, even if it worsened as a result of legal blows. If that happened, and the boxer who committed the foul was ahead on the score cards, a technical draw would be ruled. If the boxer who committed the foul was behind on the cards, then the injured boxer would win a technical decision. See "Technical Decision".


In some countries, especially in continental Europe, a boxer's seconds may throw a towel into the ring as a signal to the referee that they wish to retire their man. The gesture is not formally recognised in Britain, where the decision to stop a fight is the referee's : if he feels the time is not right to end the fight, he will simply throw or kick the towel out again.


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