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Accidental Butt

Nice Hematoma: An accidental butt by Holyfield caused Rahman to lose this fight. From Baltimore Sun

A butt, or head butt, is an intentional use of the head to inflict damage on your opponent.  An accidental butt lacks the intentional part that equation.  In other words, the head butt is an accident.

So who cares about an occasional butt?  Well, head butts both accidental and intentional are the causes of a lot of stopped fights due to the cuts that get opened up because of them. 

Your noggin is hard and if you slam it against a nice soft fleshy eye, crushing the tissue above your eye against the eye socket, a deep gash can be opened up instantly.

Then you not only have an accidental butt, but you also get to see what is referred to as a bleeder.  Where an intentional head butt is illegal, a butt that is ruled accidental can actually win you the fight.  Just ask Holyfield about it in his fight against Hasim Rahman.  In that fight, an accidental butt by Holyfield led to a referee stoppage forcing them to go to the scorecards and low and behold Holyfield was in front. Who says using your head doesn't work?


Also known as the ring name, a boxer's alias is a nickname that usually describes the type of boxer he is.  Usually, the boxer will choose his own alias or ring name, but more often than not, it is a name that the press or others have attached to him or her that has stuck.

The origin of aliases and ring names in boxing may go back to the early days of boxing when boxers would assume an identity to fight in other states and places sooner than the allowed time limits following a loss or knockout.  Once federal IDs were put in place, it thwarted efforts to do this obviously due to the unique identification that could easily reveal a boxer's true identity.

Examples include:

  • Bernard Hopkins - "The Executioner"
  • "Sugar" Shane Mosley
  • Antonio Margarito - "Tijuana Tornado"
  • Oscar De La Hoya - "Golden Boy"
  • Kelly Pavlik - "The Ghost"
  • Ricky Hatton - "The Hitman"
  • Wladimir Klitschko - "Dr. Steelhammer"
  • Floyd Mayweather - "Pretty Boy"
  • Manny Pacquaio - "Pac Man"
  • Jermaine Taylor - "Bad Intentions"
  • Felix Trinidad - "Tito"

Know of any other ring names of note? What do you think is the most appropriate or inappropriate ring name of all time?

Alphabet Soup

Once upon a time in a land far, far away, boxing associations and weight divisions were simple.  There was only a few sanctioning bodies and 8 weight divisions with one champion per division.  It was very clear who was the reigning champion.

Then the 1980's came and everything changed.  Sanctioning bodies sprung up all over the place.  All it took was a manager or promoter with the fee and their boxer could be fighting for the XYZ world title.  Hence, fans and the media started to dub all of these dubious titles a mixture of letters - or alphabet soup.

Today, there are still over 50 sanctioning bodies, however the boxing whos who generally recognize four as the sanctioning bodies each with their own weight divisions.  They are:

WBA - World Boxing Association - originated from the National Boxing Association and is the oldest surviving, still active world sanctioning body.  17 weight divisions.

WBC - World Boxing Council - originated around 1963 and is based in Mexico.  17 weight divisions.

IBF - International Boxing Federation - Created in 1983.  17 divisions.  It's had a shady history with its founder - Bob Lee being sent to prison for taking bribes and tax evasion.  Hit mainstream when Larry Holmes defended the title a number of times.

WBO - World Boxing Organization - Created in 1988.  17 divisions.

As you can see, this results in 17 x 4 = 68 possible champions - 4 possible world champions per weight division depending on which sanctioning body you talk to.  It is also the reason you hear the term unified belts or fights billed.  To be undisputed world champion, you have to unify the belts - winning them from all 4 sanctioning bodies.

Back to back, the abbreviations of every sanctioning body would be nothing more than a jumbled array of letters - or alphabet soup.


The term amateur is not unique to boxing.  Most professional sports you can think of also have amateurs.  What distinguishes them from the professionals is that they do not get paid for what they do.  The highest honour in the amateurs is an Olympic Gold. 

In boxing, depending on the country, a boxer has a set amount of time they can stay in the amateurs.  At some point they reach a certain age or skill level and they have one of two options - quit or turn pro.  You can look at a good proportion of professional boxers and dig up their amateur careers.

Take Mike Tyson for example, he had an outstanding amateur career (and a professional career as well).  The clip above is from a 1982 Junior Olympic Championship.  Mike is defending his title from the previous year. 

Rules in the amateurs are different than in the pros.  The scoring system is different - often under dispute, and safety is enforced above anything else.  As a result, there are very few injuries in the amateurs compared to the pros.  It is more common for a fight to be stopped by the referree than it is to see a knockout. (unless of course you're fighting Tyson as in the clip above).

There are some who propose to make the amateurs more like the pros, removing things like requirements for boxing headgear and changing the points system.  The argument against headgear is that it doesn't protect against knockouts, only cuts and scrapes.  While true, the amateur powers that be have made it pretty clear that isn't going to happen anytime soon.

There is a perception that headgear prevents brain injuries.  While not necessarily true, the perception is beneficial in helping parents get over the initial shock of young Jimmy or Suzie coming home and saying they want to start boxing.  The perception is that headgear somehow makes it safer.  In reality it's the rules and attention to safety amateur refs enforce.

What are your thoughts - should the amateurs more closely resemble the pros in both scoring and conduct?

Bolo Punch

Once you've mastered the basic boxing punches, you may want to consider adding some other more advanced boxing techniques and punches into your repertoire.  The bolo punch is just such a technique. It is not used very often and for reasons you'll soon learn, but if mastered can give you options in the ring. You'll be pretty hard pressed to find a lot of professional boxers who use it and probably even fewer amateur boxers. But, if you look hard enough...

Kid Gavilan
A Famous Bolo Puncher

Kid Gavilan is one of those professional bolo punchers.  One of three famous bolo punchers (the other two being Ceferino Garcia and Sugar Ray Leonard), Gavilan said he developed the wide sweeping uppercut motion working in the sugar cane fields as a youth.  The machete he would carry was swung in an underarm fashion which he developed into a boxing punch later in life.

While the bolo punch can be an effective punch, it is more commonly used as a distraction.  By dropping the back hand and pretending to make an obvious wide sweeping throw, your opponent's eyes gravitate to the dropped hand, leaving you free to throw your front arm.  Often you'll see variations of the bolo punch where the boxer will drop the right hand and make circular motions - basically showboating, before throwing a stiff jab or hook with the lead hand.

Over time, your opponent will obviously figure out what you are doing and may then focus on the lead hand.  That's when life gets really good for you as you are free to follow through with the bolo punch.  Because of the distance and torque you can put into it, it can be a devastating blow when it lands.

The bolo punch is an advanced technique and leaves you wide open, so be aware of that if you plan on using it. 

The Left Bolo Punch

Most boxing fans will agree that the monster left handed bolo punch that Ike Ibeabuchi gave to Chris Byrd is one of the most famous bolo punches. See the video above. It resembles a very obvious uppercut. Notice how Ike kind of faked a right - threw it but with very little on it. That transferred his weight to the left which he put every ounce of into that knockout punch.

For more examples of the bolo punch, watch any of Sugar Ray Leonard's fights, in particular his second fight against Roberto Duran and the rematch against Thomas Hearns.

Buckshot Punch

The buckshot punch was introduced to boxing in the 1930's by William Lawrence "Young" Stribling Jr, a Georgian heavyweight.  Consisting of a left jab, then the slightest hesitation to feint a right, immediately followed by a full blown right cross, it became a trademark punch that earned him over 100 KOs.

Stribling had 290 fights over his professional career and wasn't finished when he was killed in a motorcycle accident.  According to BoxRec biograhies, Stribling was travelling about 35mph on his bike, waved to a friend in a passing car but failed to see a following car.  Reacting, but too late, he struck the car where the bumper crushed and nearly tore off his left foot (later to be amputated) sending him crashing to the pavement smashing his pelvis.

He was taken to the same hospital where, coincidentally, his convalescing wife and third child were already admitted, where he clung to life for another two days.  Friends and reports say he remained in excellent spirits throughout the ordeal, even after losing his foot, cracking jokes and remaining conscious, until finally after reaching a temperature of 107.5 and a pulse of more than 175, he spoke to his wife for the last time and died.  After being picked up off the road with the mangled left foot - reports say he said to his friend "well, looks like more roadwork."

The buckshot punch goes to show the effectiveness of a good feint or deception plan.  If you can prevent your opponent from seeing what's coming, you can expect outstanding results.  While I was unable to find a good example where Stribling was using this punch, this match between Stribling and Jack Sharkey gives you some idea of what kind of fighter he was.  (Stribling is the skinnier of the two)

His excellent defensive skills and tendency to run in and clutch meant he never received a permanent scar throughout his career.  One unverified story reports that Stribling would use inexperienced black men to practice his knockout punches.  He would put them in the ring and practice knocking them out using punches like his buckshot punch.  One day, he met laborer, 25 year old John Linwood Fox as a sparring partner who had figured out how to defeat his buckshot punch.  Fox stepped into the jab delivering a straight left of his own which knocked out Stribling and earned him a shot at a professional boxing career.  (although it promptly had him kicked out of Stribling's camp).

Low Blow

A low blow is any punch that falls below the beltline.1  In other words, if you punch someone in the gonads, the privates, the family jewels, the place where the sun don't shine, etc... you have just given a low blow.

In boxing, you get three hits before a point is deducted.  It is an illegal hit and when it happens, your opponent has up to 5 minutes to get himself ready to fight again (at least in professional boxing).  This is at the discretion of the referree who makes the decision based on what he thinks is the severity of the blow.

It is also up to the ref when a point is deducted.  If it is obviously intentional, he may not wait for three before you issuing the penalty.  In a normal match though, the first hit to the groin is generally considered an accident.  The second will receive a warning and the third results in the point loss.

It may seem all fun and good to nail someone where it hurts and risk the penalty, but if it is late in the fight, 5 minutes of rest may be just what your opponent needs to break your rhythm, recuperate and come back at you even stronger - especially if he was out of breathe.  He may even welcome the hit.

Check out the low blow Hatton gave Tszyu in 2005.

Pivot Blow

The pivot blow is an illegal strike in boxing.  Last time it was used "legally" was in the 32nd round of an 1889 fight between the original Jack Dempsey and George LaBlanche.  LaBlanche actually used the pivot blow twice in this fight, first time in the 26th round landing a whipping right onto the neck of Dempsey.  Then in the 32nd round, Dempsey let his guard down after believing LaBlanche was ou1t of steam, when LaBlanche again did the big pivot and landing a crushing right on the bridge of Dempsey's nose sending him to the floor and winning LaBlanche the title.

Shortly after that, the New York Boxing Commission made the blow illegal.  Their reasoning apparently was out of respect for Dempsey and to prevent another poem from being written -- as one appeared in this case.  From what I can find, following is an excerpt of that poem on his unmarked grave, but doesn't seem overly "disrespectful" to me. 

I believe the decision was based on the lines "Tis strange New York should thus forget its bravest of the brave."  Google Jack Dempsey - Nonpareil - for a better history on this phenomenal fighter and you may understand New York's interest in maintaining the dignity of this man.  If anyone has the full version, please post in the comments.

Jack Dempsey - Nonpareil

Far out in the wilds of Oregon,
On a lonely mountainside,
Where Columbia’s mighty waters
Roll down to the ocean side;
Where the giant fir and cedar
Are imaged in the wave,
O'grown with firs and lichens,
I found Jack Dempsey's grave.

O Fame, why sleeps thy favored son
In wilds, in woods, in weeds,
And shall he ever thus sleep on,
Interred his valiant deeds.
‘Tis strange New York should thus forget
Its bravest of the brave
And in the fields of Oregon,
Unmarked leave Dempsey’s grave

The pivot blow is a right thrown after a complete turn/pivot on heel of one foot.  The boxer turns completely around often delivering it like a backhand, or even an elbow.  Basically, tremendous force is generated from the acceleration of the spinning motion and there is very little control - they just let it swing.

Rabbit Punch

A rabbit punch is an illegal punch where one of the boxers hits the other boxer in the back of the head. Hits to the kidneys/back are also sometimes referred to as rabbit punches.

These are very dangerous hits and it makes perfect sense that they are illegal. Not only is the victim unaware of the incoming punch (as it is occurring behind them), but think for a moment of where they are hitting - base of the head where it attaches to the spine. Wouldn't take much to snap the brain off the brain stem or cause irreparable damage to the spine.

As tempting as it may be sometimes, don't do it. The one above stopped the fight for three minutes so Hopkins could recover. Don't feel too sorry for BHop though - he's given his own share of rabbit punches in his career.