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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Let's Get Ready to Rumble! The English Language Hides Pugilists’ Talk


The defeat of Filipino boxer Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao, dubbed as the best pound for pound boxer today after winning world titles in 8 different weight classes, to Timothy "Desert Storm" Bradley last June 10 at the MGM Grand arena in Las Vegas, U.S.A. sent shockwaves throughout the world. Many sports analysts, boxing aficionados, occasional fans, and of course Filipinos throughout the globe expected Pacquiao to win. Based on what many people saw, whether on live television or in the arena, it was clear to them that the boxer from the Philippines clearly won the boxing match. But two out of the three judges gave the fight to Bradley giving Pacquiao, a congressman in Sarangani Province, on the island of Mindanao, his first loss in years.


Manny Pacquiao

The Pacman's loss definitely stings for those who believed he would prevail. But leave the Pacquiao-Bradley fight for now. Let the coaches, managers, boxing analysts and other interested parties argue about who deserved the coveted belt. Instead, learn about boxing words, phrases and terminologies that you might have been using for years without knowing that these come from the world of the pugilists.

Here are English language words, phrases and terms that originated from a contact sport that had been around for hundreds of years.

Come out fighting (same as Come out swinging)
In boxing, this means for a boxer to immediately go on the offensive. Outside the boxing ring, it means to go on offensive about oneself or about one's values or beliefs.

Down and out
When a boxer hits the canvas of the ring and does not stand up, he is down. When a boxer is unconscious, he is out or out cold. A boxer can be considered down but not necessarily out. This term is used to mean penniless, poor, or destitute when used informally.

Down (or out) for the count
When a boxer is knocked down, the referee will start counting off to ten. If the boxer does not stand up before the referee finishes his count, he loses the fight. Being down for the count is sometimes only a temporary setback because many boxers are able to stand up after a knock down before the counting ends. Defeated or knocked down is the usually meaning of this phrase when used outside of the boxing arena.

Glass jaw
A boxer with a glass jaw is one who is susceptible to being knocked out. This describes a person's weakness or vulnerability to destructive forms of criticism.

Gloves are off (or Take off the gloves)
Boxing gloves are there to protect the hands of the boxer and to make the impact of the blows much less than if no gloves are worn. Punching with bare-knuckles is more dangerous. Informally, when the gloves are off, a person attacks another person usually through words or deeds without mercy thus inflicting pain or damage to the other's person or being.

Go the distance
A boxer is said to go the distance when he finishes all the rounds required for his particular fight. Informally, a person who goes the distance is one who sees a plan of action to its fruition.

Have someone in your corner
A boxer often has people in his corner of the ring that support him like his trainer/coach and a person who looks after minor medical issues (like cuts) that the boxer may incur during a fight. In everyday conversation, when a person has someone in his corner, he has the aid, encouragement, or backing of another person, group of persons or even an organization.

Heavy hitter
A boxer who can hit hard is termed a heavy hitter. Outside of boxing, this is a person or organization of major influence.

Heavyweight
This is one of the weight divisions in the sport of boxing. Boxers have to be at least 175 pounds (lbs.) or 79.5 kilograms (kg) in order to fight in this division. In everyday use, it means the same as heavy hitter.

Hit below the belt (same as low blow)
A boxer who disregards the rules of a fight and thus acts unfairly is said to hit below the belt. A non-boxer who hits below the belt is a person who does not fight (literally or figuratively) fairly.

Infighting
Boxers who fight very closely, that is, in close quarters are said to be infighting. In non-boxing parlance, this term is often used to describe conflicts within families, groups or organization.

Knockout or knock-out
A boxer is knocked-out if he is rendered unconscious by his opponent or when he hits the canvas and does not stand up within the count of ten. Informally, a woman who is called a knock-out is usually seen as a very physically attractive female.

K.O.
An abbreviation for the boxing term knockout, this is pronounced as "kay-o" and means to render a boxer unconscious. In the everyday English language, this means to put someone or something out of commission.

Lead with one's chin
When a boxer does not protect his chin, considered a vulnerable spot, he is said to be leading with his chin. Informally, this term is used to mean speaking without being mindful or without caution.

Lightweight
This is a division in boxing where the boxer weighs less than 135 lbs. or 60.7 kg. It also refers to a boxer who fits into that division. In casual communication, a person of no consequence, no ability, no substance, no intelligence or one considered trivial or unimportant is termed a lightweight.

On the ropes
A boxer who finds his body resting on the ropes enclosing the boxing ring while being pummeled by blows from his opponent is described as on the ropes. In familiar terms, a person or organization that is said to be on the ropes is one that is right on the precipice of defeat.

One-two punch (or the old one-two)
This is a form of attack where a boxer releases two punches in quick succession from his left and right hands. This is usually a combination starting with a left-hand jab closely shadowed by a right-hand cross. Informally, this means a highly effective or strong combination of two things.

Pound for pound
Regardless of weight, a boxer can be called the best pound for pound boxer if he is highly skilled, with a style and talent that can out match other boxers in different weight classes. Outside the ring, a person or thing is said to be the best pound for pound when he or it is deemed to be the best of the best when compared to others.

Pull one's punches
A boxer pulls his punches when he is holding back his strength instead of releasing it all on his opponent. Casually, this may mean being lenient, temperate, or gentle.

Punch-drunk
This term refers to a neurological disorder that occurs in boxers caused by repeated blows to the head. Symptoms of this disorder known as Dementia pugilistica resemble signs of alcoholic intoxication. In daily conversation, a person is said to be punch-drunk when he seems dazed or confused.

Ringside judge
This is the boxing match judge sitting at the table beside the boxing ring whose task is to score the match. When the term is used informally, it describes a person who keeps tabs on a particular situation or topic diligently or intimately.

Ringside seat/s (also Ringside table)
These are the seats right beside the boxing ring. In everyday English, this refers to a good view of an event, situation or happening.

Roll with the punches
A boxer who is able to move his body in order to avoid the full force of a punch is one who rolls with the punches. In non-boxing terms, an individual who knows how to work with a challenging situation or adapt to tough circumstances is one who knows how to roll with the punches.

Saved by the bell 
When a boxer is down and the bell rings without the referee finishing the count to 10, the boxer is saved from losing the match. This is so because the bell rang even before the referee could finish his count. In everyday conversation, this boxing phrase means being saved from sure misfortune by a timely intervention.

Sparring partner
This phrase refers to another boxer who practices with a boxer during training. Outside of boxing, this is a person whom one enjoys arguing or trading barbs with.

Sucker punch
A boxing term that refers to a punch that is delivered unexpectedly on the opponent. When a regular person receives an unexpected blow of some form (not usually physical), it is said that he was sucker punched.

Take a dive
When a boxer wants to intentionally lose a fight, he can take a dive, that is, to feign being knocked out. Informally, a person takes a dive if he pretends with the express intention to deceive others.

Toe to toe
Boxers who stand right across each other as they exchange blows are fighting toe to toe. Beyond boxing, this term means having a direct confrontation.

Throw in the towel
When a boxer throws in the towel, he admits defeat. Casually, it refers to surrendering or admitting defeat.

Throw one's hat into the ring
Many years ago, when a person threw his hat in the boxing ring, his intention was to challenge his opponent. Today, when a person enters a race, a contest or joins an election, he is said to throw his hat into the ring.

These are just some of the many terms that originated from the sport of boxing. You have probably used or encountered most of them. Now you know the double meanings for these words, phrases and terms. The English language contains a wealth of words, phrases and terms that come from the wide, wide world of sports, not just boxing. Expand your vocabulary by learning more about them.


Photo Credit: Pacquiao Artwork by mario_d

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