Were you confused by some of the terms used in the last boxing flick you watched on TV? Over the decades the world of boxing has coined a definite set of words to describe boxing weights, boxing styles, boxing equipment, and the different techniques and punches used in boxing. If you wonder what they mean by lightweight, bantamweight, speed bags, and sparring gloves, you will definitely find this article useful. Boxing terminology or the vocabulary of boxing will also be useful to those who want to ‘float like a butterfly and sting like a bee’ as Muhammad Ali puts it.

The following is a list of boxing terms for writing and speaking about boxing. Learn boxing terminology and vocabulary with ease.

Boxing TermsMeanings and Explanation
apronThe apron is the part of a ring that extends beyond the ropes
back-pedalTo back-pedal is to retreat from an opponent while still facing them
bantamweightBantamweight is the professional weight category of maximum 54kg (118lb)
beltBelt is an imaginary line around the waist below which punches are prohibited
blockingBlocking is the use of the shoulders, arms, or hands to prevent an opponent’s punch from landing cleanly
bob and weaveTo bob and weave is to make quick bodily movements up and down and from side to side in order to dodge punches. In boxing bobbing moves the head laterally and beneath an incoming punch. As the opponent's punch arrives, the fighter bends the legs quickly and simultaneously shifts the body either slightly right or left. Fighters generally begin the bob and weave to the left, as most opponents strike with their left hand, or jab hand first.
body blowBody blow is a punch to the body
boloBolo is a long sweeping uppercut (said to resemble a slash with a bolo knife). When used in boxing, the bolo punch's range of motion is like that of a hook combined with an uppercut. As such, the punch should be thrown at 4–5 o'clock from an orthodox boxer's perspective. Its most important aspect is a circular motion performed with one arm to distract an opponent, causing the opponent to either take his eyes off the attacker's other arm or actually focus on the fighter's circling arm. When the opponent concentrates on the hand that is circling, the bolo puncher will usually sneak in a punch with the opposite hand. When the rival concentrates on the hand that is not moving, the bolo puncher will usually follow through with a full punch.
boutBout is a contest
boxerBoxer is a person who boxes or is skilled in the sport
boxing glovesBoxing gloves are the special padded gloves worn by boxers
boxing matchBoxing match is a match or contest between two boxers
boxing ringBoxing ring is the fuller term for a ring
boxing weightBoxing weight is the particular weight category at which boxers are matched
break!Break! is a command by the referee to the boxers in a clinch to separate
canvasCanvas is the floor of a ring.
cauliflower earCauliflower ear is an ear permanently swollen and disfigured by repeated blows [in appearance resembling the clumped shape of a cauliflower]
cautionCaution is a reprimand given to a boxer by the referee following an infringement, three such reprimands usually resulting in a warning
championChampion is a competitor who has excelled all others
chinChin is the ability to withstand punches
clinchTo clinch is to hold one’'s opponent in such a way that he cannot throw punches
combinationCombination is a series of punches thrown in quick succession
corkscrewCorkscrew is a punch thrown with the elbow out and a twisting motion of the wrist
cornerCorner is one of the diagonally opposite angles of the ring, where a boxer sits between rounds and is attended by a second; it is also used as another term for the second himself
corner manCorner man is another term for a second
countCount is the counting up to ten seconds by the referee when a boxer is down on the canvas, after which a win to his opponent by a knockout is declared
counterCounter is an attack made immediately after an opponent throws a punch
counterpunchCounterpunch is fuller term for a counter
crossCross is a straight punch delivered from the side
cruiserCruiser is a cruiserweight boxer
cruiserweightCruiserweight is the professional weight category of maximum 86kg (190lb)
decisionDecision is the awarding of a fight in which there has been no knockout to the boxer with the greater number of points
defenseDefense is an attempt by a reigning champion to defend his title in a contest
disqualificationDisqualification is the elimination of a boxer from a contest because he has received three warnings from the referee
distanceDistance is the range within which a boxer can strike his opponent; it is also used to denote the scheduled duration of a match
diveDive is a feigned knockout as a tactical move
downDown means beaten because a part of the body other than the feet is touching the canvas; also means to be beaten because helpless on the ropes or beaten because judged unfit by the referee to continue
dukeDuke is the verdict in a match [from the practice of raising the winner’s arm, from the slang term for a fist, from rhyming slang duke of Yorks, “forks,” slang for the hands]
eight-countEight-count is a count of eight seconds by the referee that a boxer who is down must take while the referee decides whether or not to continue the bout
eliminatorEliminator is a contest in which a competitor is eliminated, as from a bout in boxing
fancyFancy is a dated term for an enthusiast
featherFeather is shortening of featherweight
featherweightFeatherweight is the professional weight category of maximum 57kg (126lb)
feintTo feint means to fake a punch with the intention of disorientating one’s opponent
fighting weightFighting weight is the specified weight or weight range within which a boxer must come to be eligible to fight in a particular class
fistianaFistiana is a colloquial term for anecdotes about boxers and the sport in general
fisticuffsFisticuffs is facetious term for the sport
flyweightFlyweight is the professional weight category of maximum 51kg (112lb)
glovesGloves is the shortened form of boxing gloves
go the distanceTo go the distance is to complete the scheduled duration of a fight
Golden GlovesGolden Gloves is an amateur competition originating in 1927 as a U.S. intercities tournament, the winner receiving a gold medal and a pair of miniature golden gloves
guardGuard is a defensive stance, with the gloves raised to protect the face
gumshieldGumshield is another term for a mouthpiece gun
hamHam is an incompetent boxer
handlerHandler is a person who trains and acts as a second to a boxer
hang up one’s glovesHang up one’s gloves is to retire from the sport
haymakerHaymaker is colloquial term for a wild swinging punch
heavyweightHeavyweight is the professional weight category of maximum 91kg (201lb)
holdHold is a grip of the opponent that prevents him from throwing punches
hookHook is a swinging blow with the elbow bent
in chanceryIn chancery is (of ) a combatant’s head held under his opponent’s arm
infightingInfighting is engaging at very close quarters, so that it is impossible to throw full-length punches
jabJab is a short straight punch
judgeJudge is one of the three ringside officials who keep a record of the scoring hits in a bout
juniorJunior is lighter than the standard for a particular weight
junior bantamweightJunior bantamweight is the professional weight category of maximum 52kg (115lb)
junior featherweightJunior featherweight is the professional weight category of maximum 55kg (122lb)
junior flyweightJunior flyweight is the professional weight category of maximum 49kg (108lb)
junior lightweightJunior lightweight is the professional weight category of maximum 59kg (130lb)
junior middleweightJunior middleweight is the professional weight category of maximum 70kg (154lb)
junior welterweightJunior welterweight is the professional weight category of maximum 63.5kg (140lb)
kayoKayo (KO) is a knockout
killKill is a knockout
knockoutKnockout is a blow that renders the opponent unconscious or incapable of recovering before the end of the count
KOKO is the abbreviation of knockout
leadLead is the first punch of two or more from the same fist
lead with one’s chinTo lead with one’s chin is to adopt an awkward stance that makes one vulnerable to punches [a boxer normally leads with his fists]
leftLeft is a punch with the left fist
left crossLeft cross is a punch delivered from the left side
left-handerLeft-hander is a punch delivered with the left hand
light flyweightLight flyweight is another term for junior flyweight
light heavyweightLight heavyweight is the professional weight category of maximum 79kg (175lb)
light middleweightLight middleweight is another term for junior middleweight
light welterweightLight welterweight is the professional weight category of maximum 63.5kg (140lb)
lightweightLightweight is the professional weight category of maximum 61kg (135lb)
Lonsdale BeltLonsdale Belt is the trophy in the form of a belt awarded for winning the same title three times in succession [presented in 1909 by Lord Lonsdale (1857–1944), president of the National Sporting Club]
man who beat the manMan who beat the man is a way of defining a champion, as the man who beat the previous champion
markMark is the pit of the stomach
matchmakerMatchmaker is a person who arranges matches
middleweightMiddleweight is the professional weight category of maximum 73kg (160lb)
mini flyweightMini flyweight is the professional weight category of under 48kg (105lb)
mittensMittens is colloquial term for boxing gloves
mouthpieceMouthpiece is the piece of plastic placed in a boxer’s mouth to protect his teeth and prevent him from biting his tongue
neutral cornerNeutral corner is one of the two corners in the ring where neither boxer sits
noble artNoble art is another term for boxing [short for “the noble art of self-defense”]
on pointsOn points is reckoned by the number of points scored rather than by a knockout
on the ropesOn the ropes is forced against the ropes by an opponent’s attack, and thus in danger of defeat
one-two / one-two comboOne-two / one-two combo is a jab with the leading hand followed by a cross with the other hand. In boxing, the "one-two combo" (also called "the old one-two") is a nickname of a jab and cross combo. It is so named because, in boxing parlance, the jab is often referred to as a "1" and the cross as a "2". Boxers usually learn this combination before any other[citation needed]. The jab is designed to get the fighter in range while effectively blinding the opponent and hiding the cross, which is a longer punch that will be slipped if thrown on its own. Generally, the jab is thrown with 60% power while stepping forward into range, and the cross follows at full power as the lead hand is retracted back to the guard. A drawing of a cross. Many boxers use this combination of punches to weaken their opponents during the beginning of a fight before any other combinations.
out for the countOut for the count is failing to beat the count of the referee when down on the canvas
outclassedOutclassed is judged by the referee to be taking undue punishment from an opponent, in consequence of which the bout is stopped
palookaPalooka is an inexperienced or incompetent boxer [from the comic strip Joe Palooka by the U.S. artist Ham Fisher, first published in 1930]
passbookPassbook is the record of a boxer’s matches, including injuries sustained, medical procedures applied, and the like
Peek-a-BooPeek-a-Boo is Peek-a-Boo is a boxing style where the hands are placed in front of the boxer's face, like in the baby's game of the same name. It offers extra protection to the face and makes it easier to jab the opponent's face. Peek-a-Boo boxing was developed by legendary trainer Cus D'Amato. Peek-a-Boo boxing utilizes relaxed hands with the forearms in front of the face and the fist at nose-eye level. Other unique features include side to side head movements, bobbing, weaving and blind siding the opponent. A fighter using the peek-a-boo style is drilled with the stationary dummy and on the bag until the fighter is able to punch by rapid combinations with what D'Amato called "bad intentions". The style allows swift neck movements as well quick duckings and bad returning damage, usually by rising uppercuts or even rising hooks.
postman’s knockPostman’s knock is colloquial term for two successive punches
prize ringPrize ring is a ring where prizefights are held
prizefightPrizefight is a boxing match fought for a prize in the form of money
prizefighterA prizefighter is a contestant in a prizefight
promoterA promoter is the organizer of a boxing match
promotionPromotion is the staging for profit of a boxing match
propProp is the extended arm of a boxer
pugilismPugilism is a formal alternate name for boxing [Latin pugil, “boxer”]
pugilistPugilist is an alternate term for a boxer
pull a punchPull a punch is to hold back the full force of a punch
punchPunch is a blow with the fist
punch and retreatPunch and retreat is a strategy of gradually wearing down an opponent by delivering a series of individual punches while otherwise avoiding any direct engagement or action
punch drunkPunch drunk is suffering from cerebral concussion inflicted by past blows in the sport [the sufferer moves as if drunk]
punchbagPunchbag is a large stuffed bag for boxers to practice punching
punchballPunchball is a suspended ball for boxers to practice punching
punching bagPunching bag is another term for a punchbag
Queensberry RulesQueensberry Rules is the standard rules of the modern form of the sport [introduced in 1867 under the patronage of the 8th Marquis of Queensberry (1844–1900)]
rabbit punchRabbit punch is an illegal punch to the back of the neck [like that used by hunters and farmers to kill a rabbit]. A rabbit punch is a blow to the neck or to the base of the skull. It is considered especially dangerous because it can damage thecervical vertebrae and subsequently the spinal cord, which may lead to serious and irreparable spinal cord injury. A rabbit punch can also detach the victim's brain from the brain stem,citation needed which can kill instantly. The punch's name is derived from the use of the technique by hunters to kill rabbits with a quick, sharp strike to the back of the head.
rallyRally is a sustained exchange of blows [French rallier, “re-ally,” “bring together again”]
reachReach is the distance between the fingertips of the outstretched arms of a boxer; (cricket) the extent to which a batsman can play forward without moving his back foot
refereeReferee is the official stationed in the ring with the boxers who regulates the bout, intervening if necessary to stop a fight and administering the count to a boxer down on the canvas
right crossRight cross is a punch delivered from the right side
right-handerRight-hander is a punch delivered with the right hand
ringRing is the roped rectangular area on a raised platform in which a match takes place [originally the space for a match surrounded by a circle of spectators]; (2) the sport itself as a profession
ring rustRing rust is staleness of performance shown by a boxer who has been out of the ring
ringsideRingside is the area immediately surrounding the ring
ringside physicianRingside physician is the doctor who checks the physical condition of a boxer before the start of a bout and who determines whether a dazed boxer is fit enough to continue
ringside seatRingside seat is a seat immediately next to the ring
ringsiderRingsider is a spectator at a prizefight
roll with the punchesRoll with the punches is to move the body away to lessen the impact of an opponent’s blows
rope-a-dopeRope-a-dope is a tactic in which a boxer pretends to be trapped on the ropes in order to incite his opponent to tire himself out with punches [an expression popularized in the 1970s by heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, a noted employer of the tactic, the “dope” being the baited opponent]
ropesRopes is the cords around the ring; (cricket) the cords marking the boundary of the field
roundRound is a subdivision of a bout in the form of a period of action over a given number of minutes, separated from the next period by a rest
round heelsRound heels is colloquial term for a poor boxer [who might easily fall]
roundhouseRoundhouse is a wild swinging punch
savateSavate is a form of the sport in which both feet and fists are used [French savate, originally a type of shoe]
scoring hitScoring hit is a fair hit which, if the judges agree, earns the boxer one point
secondSecond is an assistant who helps a boxer before a bout and during the rests between rounds
set-toSet-to is a renewed attack
set-upSet-up is a boxer who can be easily defeated by a particular opponent and who is selected for this very reason
shadow boxingShadow boxing is sparring practice with an imaginary opponent
shortarmShortarm is (of ) a punch delivered with a bent arm rather than an extended one
sidewinderSidewinder is a blow struck from the side
slug nuttySlug nutty is colloquial term for punch drunk
slugfestSlugfest is colloquial term for a hard-hitting contest
southpawSouthpaw is a left-handed boxer, who leads with his right hand [when right-handed batters faced east to avoid the afternoon sun in their eyes, pitchers faced west, but if left-handed would throw with their south-side hand]
sparSpar is to exchange light blows by way of practice or demonstration
sparring partnerSparring partner is a boxer chosen to spar with another
speed bagSpeed bag is a small punchbag used for practicing quick punches
speedballSpeedball is a type of small fast punchball
split decisionSplit decision is a decision made by a majority of the judges but not by all of them
stanceStance is the position adopted by a boxer in readiness to land or receive punches
stand-upStand-up is a fight in which the contestants stand up fairly to each other without any special moves or maneuvers
standing countStanding count is a count of eight taken by a boxer who although not knocked down appears unable to continue fighting
stopStop is a guard or attack that prevents a punch from landing on its mark; it also means 'to defeat an opponent with a knockout'
strawweightStrawweight is the professional weight category of under 48kg (105lb)
stun and be goneStun and be gone is another term for punch and retreat
sucker punchSucker punch is a punch that takes advantage of an opponent’s momentary lack of concentration
super bantamweightSuper bantamweight is the professional weight category of maximum 55kg (122lb)
super featherweightSuper featherweight is the professional weight category of maximum 69kg (130lb)
super flyweightSuper flyweight is the professional weight category of maximum 52kg (115lb)
super heavyweightSuper heavyweight is the amateur weight category of above 91kg (201lb)
super lightweightSuper lightweight is the professional weight category of maximum 63.5kg (140lb)
super middleweightSuper middleweight is the professional weight category of maximum 76kg (168lb)
super welterweightSuper welterweight is the professional weight category of maximum 70kg (154lb)
sweet scienceSweet science is a byname for boxing
swingSwing is a punch made with a sweep of the arm
take a diveTake a dive is to feign a knockout [by a dive to the canvas]
targetTarget is the part of an opponent’s body to which an attack is directed
technical knockoutTechnical knockout is a decision by the referee that one of the combatants, although not losing to a physical knockout, is too badly beaten to continue the fight, so that his opponent is the winner
Thai boxingThai boxing is a form of boxing practiced in Thailand, using not only gloved fists but feet, knees, and elbows
third manThird man is colloquial term for the referee
throwTo throw is to deliver a punch
timeTime is the end of a round in boxing
title fightTitle fight is a match held to decide a championship
TKOTKO is the abbreviation of technical knockout
undercardUndercard is a contest placed second on the billing
unloadUnload is to deliver a forceful punch
uppercutUppercut is an upward punch that comes from underneath the opponent’s guard
warningWarning is an official admonition from the referee, three of which lead to a disqualification from the bout
weaveWeave is to dodge punches by making twisting and turning movements
weigh inWeigh in is to be weighed as a boxer before a match
weightWeight is the standard amount that a boxer should weigh [categorized by a defining prefix, as flyweight, heavyweight]
welterweightWelterweight is the professional weight category of maximum 67kg (147lb)
windWind is a point on the body covering the stomach, a blow on which causes winding
work out / workoutTo work out / workout is to fight a practice bout
AIBAAIBA is Association Internationale de Boxe Amateur (International Amateur Boxing Association)
IBFIBF is the shortened form of International Boxing Federation
WBAWBA is the shortened form of World Boxing Association
WBCWBC is the shortened form of World Boxing Council
WBOWBO is the shortened form of World Boxing Organization
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