Conversational Sport Boxing Vocabulary
By Bryanna Fissori
So, you are absolutely loving your fitness boxing class and feel like you have gotten the hang of it. You know the difference between a jab, cross, hook and uppercut. You can throw them all in various combinations on command. So now you want to watch a boxing match with your friends who have been fans for over a decade. Here is some basic boxing vocabulary you should know in order to keep up.
Do not confuse boxing with a brawl or a street fight, or with other sports such as Mixed Martial Arts or kickboxing. Boxing has very specific rules participants must follow and the only weapons boxers are given are two gloved fists. Kicking and grappling of any sort are not allowed. If you yell, “Take him down!” in the middle of a boxing match, people will look at you like you are crazy. Your face will turn red and it will be very embarrassing. Don’t do that.
The Boxing Ring
Your gym may or may not have a boxing ring in it. A boxing ring is where the match takes place. Despite its name, a boxing ring is not round. It is a square. Flexible but sturdy ropes enclose the ring. This is the same enclosed space used for the sports of kickboxing and muay thai. MMA, unlike boxing, takes place in a cage. The ring itself is raised off of the ground and covered with a canvas material over about an inch of padding. There are no doors and participants step in between the ropes to enter and exit.
The People in the Ring
Once the bout (also called a match or a fight) begins, the only people inside the ring should be the two boxers and one referee. On a televised or high profile match, there will be a plethora of other people packed in the ring before and after. Those people usually consist of coaches, promoters, managers, announcer and media. Let’s break those down a little to expand your boxing vocabulary.
- Competitors/Boxers: The two athletes who are competing against each other
- Coaches: The people who have trained the competitors to fight
- Managers: Each boxer is typically represented by a manager who takes care of a lot of the financial aspects for the boxer such as securing matches, negotiating, ensuring all details are taken care of.
- Promoter: This is the person that hosts the event. That means that they have worked with managers to secure the fights and they will be the one paying the boxers.
- Media: Television, magazine and online publication reporters, photographers and videographers who will be disseminating information about the fight during or after. This may also include cameramen from the live broadcast.
- Referee: The person who stays in the ring with the boxers and ensures they are safe and rules are enforced.
- Announcer: The person with the microphone who introduces the competitors.
Weight Classes and Glove Sizes
Each boxer is categorized into a weight class depending on his or her size. This is usually the lowest weight a person can achieve while still being able to perform. The weight for each individual bout is decided at the time the match is made and is written in to the contracts. If a boxer does not step on the scale at the appropriate weight they are typically granted an hour to try and get to the weight. If that does not happen, they often are obligated to forfeit a portion of their pay (also called a purse).
Competitors typically “weigh-in” the day before the match and have approximately 24 hours to re-hydrate. It is not uncommon for an athlete to step on the scale dehydrated and to rehydrate to be 15 to 30 pounds heavier at the time of the match. It sounds crazy, but this is really how it works.
Glove sizes are also chosen according to the weights of the competitors. The gloves are used to protect fighters’ hands and minimize damage to faces. In general, fighters over 147 pounds use 10-ounce gloves and lighter fighters use 8-ounce gloves. This can vary for female fighters. Amateur fighters use larger gloves than professionals (they also typically use headgear).
There are quite a few things that boxers cannot do in the ring. This helps to prevent injury and keep the fight from becoming a street-brawl. Boxer’s cannot do the following:
• Strike below the belt
• Kick or knee
• Strike when an opponent is down on the canvas
• Grab the Ropes
• Strike with elbows, forearms or the inside of the hand (slap)
• Wrestle, grapple or hold the opponent excessively
• Bite ears (Yes, this actually has been a problem)
• Poke the eye with a thumb (This has also been a problem)
• Strike intentionally with the back of the glove
If any of these things occur the referee has a few options. Depending on the severity of the offense the fight can be stopped and the offended athlete disqualified. If the offense is minor but has some effect on the fight, or has been repeated and the boxer warned, the referee may call for a point to be deducted off of that competitor’s scorecard.
The most common instructions you will hear from the referee to the boxers are: Stop, Break and Fight.
The amount of maximum rounds a bout can go is pre-determined at the time the agreement (contract) is signed. This is assuming no one is knocked out prior to the end of the bout. The maximum any boxing match can last is 12 rounds. This is typical for the biggest or most highly promoted fight of the night. Each round often lasts three minutes during these high-level bouts. There is a minute rest in between each round during which each boxer returns to their corner of the ring where they are met by their coaches (also called corners) who usually give them water and advise. The number of and length of rounds are not the same for every bout.
Additional Boxing Vocabulary:
- Card: This is the list of bouts on a single event.
- Main Event: The most highly promoted/marketed fight of the event. Typically the last fight to happen on the card.
- Cutman: The person in the corner whose job is to take care of any cuts or abrasions that could hinder a boxer from continuing to fight.
- Eight Count: When an athlete is knocked down and the fight is in jeopardy of being stopped a referee can count to eight to give the boxer time to recover and continue or for the referee to stop the fight if the competitor cannot continue. Some events may use a ten count instead of eight.