Boxing Terms

Entering a boxing gym can be an intimidating experience even when you know the basics of what you're doing.  It becomes far more intimating when you feel like everyone in there is speaking a completely different language than you.  These are some basic terms to help you start off on the right foot and avoid feeling like you're an outsider.  To know what your coach is even asking you to throw or do, see the page called "Basic Skills"

Amateur boxer: means any Boxer who participates in a competition and who is registered by USA Boxing; the term Boxer referring to Boxers of both genders; (USA Boxing, 2014) Need to register? Click Here

Bag gloves: a type of glove that is lighter than what is necessary to use when having contact in practice with another person.  For example, while most gyms require people sparring to use at least 14 oz gloves to spar, bag gloves could be lighter than this.  They also often have a free moving thumb instead of a stitched one, and are loose compared to being bound or laced at the wrist/lower arm. Click Here to learn more about gloves.

Belt: Can mean the ornate belt that are traditionally awarded to championship boxing matches, or can mean the point on the waist line that separates a legal body shot from a punch labeled "below the belt"--which is illegal.

Bladed: the body should be slightly sideways, rather than "square", with only the face turned toward the opponent.

Body fat percentage: reference to what percentage of the body is made up of fat versus muscle or vital organs, fluids, bone, tendons, etc.

Body shot: A punch to the opponent's body that are above the waist or belt and below the shoulders. These are only allowed to the front and sides of the body.

Bout: means a boxing contest between two Boxers taking place as part of a competition; also referred to as a “match” (USA Boxing, 2014)

Chest Protector: A thick protection that covers the chest and abdomen, strapping on across the back, which allows freedom of movement of the arms and legs while giving the coach or athlete maximum protection of the body.  More about Chest Protectors Here.

Clinch: lean on and hold one's opponent instead of fighting (Errey, n.d.) How Do I Do That? 

Combination: series of punches thrown in sequence (Errey, n.d.)

Contender: A highly-ranked boxer who is not the champion but is of top quality (iSport Boxing, n.d.)

Counter punch: A counterattack, begun immediately after an opponent throws a punch. A "counter-puncher" typically waits for his opponent to throw punches, then blocks or slips past them and exploits the opening in his opponent's position. (James, n.d.)

Cornerman: means Coaches or Trainers who are certified by USA Boxing and who are allowed to act in the corner of the ring; Also referred to as “Seconds” (USA Boxing, 2014)

Cross: also known as a "straight".  The cross is delivered with the back hand, across the body, and is accompanied by a pivot.  While the term "cross" is used in cardio boxing gyms, a word of advice is to not use this term in a competitive boxing gym.  This punch will only be referred to as a "straight" or "2" in most competitive boxing gyms and for the duration of this website's text.  

Double end bag: Double-end bags are used by some boxers to quicken their reflexes and to develop short, accurate punches. It also helps a boxer to learn defense tactics. (The Rules UK, n.d.)

Decision: At the end of a Bout, the winner will be determined on the basis of the total score of the Judges and will be declared the winner of the Bout on points in accordance with the Scoring System by either unanimous or split decision (USA Boxing, 2014)

Dynamic stretching: sport specific movements to prepare the body for exercise.  Dynamic stretching involves movement, as opposed to static stretching which involves holds of certain positions in order to stretch muscles.

Eight count: When a Boxer is knocked down as the result of a blow, the Bout must not continue until the Referee has reached a mandatory count of eight (8), even if the Boxer is ready to continue before then or the round has come to a close (USA Boxing, 2014)

Elite boxer: A boxer with five (5) or more Bouts can elect to compete in the Elite Division (USA Boxing, 2014)

Feint: Faking a punch to induce the opponent to open up into a vulnerable position. (James, n.d.)

Gloves: means equipment that is worn on the hands in order to protect them during the competition (USA Boxing, 2014) Click Here to learn more about gloves.

Groin protector: For all Men’s competitions, a cup protector must be worn by the Boxers during all Bouts and a jock-strap may additionally be worn. The cup protector must not cover any part of the target area. Female cup protectors are optional. (USA Boxing, 2014)

Guard: when a boxer's hands and gloves are positioned to quickly protect the body.  A coach may reference a "high guard", which often means that the athlete is leaving the body unprotected by keeping the gloves very raised to better protect the face.

Hand pads: Circular pads worn on the hands, primarily used by coaches to catch punches of boxers.

Hand wraps: Cotton wraps worn under the gloves of boxers for knuckle and wrist protection. During competition most boxers replace the cotton wraps with gauze and medical tape (iSport Boxing, n.d.) Click Here to learn more about hand wraps.

Head-butt: foul of hitting an opponent with the head (Errey, n.d.)

Headgear: means equipment that is worn on the head in order to protect it during the competition (USA Boxing, 2014) For more information about headgear and regulations regarding headgear, click here.

Heavy bag: A boxing heavy bag is a long, cylindrical bag suspended by a chain, covered with leather, and filled with either a fibrous material or water. They weigh from 50 to 150 pounds. It is used by boxers to practice their punches, footwork, and stepping.  It helps to build muscles in the upper body, wrists and hands. It also helps build endurance. Boxers punch it, move around it, and push it back, just as they would an opponent. (The Rules UK, n.d.)

Holding: foul of preventing an opponent from punching by holding their arms against their body (Errey, n.d.)

Hook: a semi-circular punch, often referred to as a "3"

Jab: A punch where the fist of the lead hand moves directly from the face to the target that is accompanied by a simultaneous step with the lead leg and push off of the back foot, creating a springing motion with the legs.  This is often referred to as a "1".

Judge: means the person who allocates points during a Bout based on each Boxer’s performance on the ring in respect of the USA Boxing Technical Rules and of these AOB/USA Boxing Competition Rules (USA Boxing, 2014)

Knock down: A Boxer will be considered to be knocked down if the boxer does any of the following as a result of a blow or series of blows: touches the floor with any part of the body other than the Boxer’s feet; hangs helplessly on the ropes; is outside or partly outside the ropes; is in a semiconscious state and cannot, in the opinion of the Referee, continue the Bout. (USA Boxing, 2014)

Knockout (KO): If a Boxer is knocked down and fails to resume boxing before that Boxer is counted up to ten (10), the opponent will be declared the winner of the Bout by KO (USA Boxing, 2014)

Low blow: foul blow to the area below the stomach, including the genitals (Errey, n.d.)

Mouthpiece: Gumshields worn by Boxers during all Bouts; no red or partially red colored gumshield may be worn (USA Boxing, 2014)

Match: means a boxing contest between two Boxers taking place as part of a competition; Also referred to as a “bout” (USA Boxing, 2014)

Neutral corner: corner of the ring a boxer must go to after knocking down an opponent (Errey, n.d.)

Novice boxer: A boxer with zero (0) to ten (10) Bouts (USA Boxing, 2014)

Open boxer: means a Boxer who has competed in more than ten (10) USA Boxing Bouts. Said Boxers eleventh (11) Bout will be in the open class. Participants transferring from other striking combat sports will begin competition in the open class. (USA Boxing, 2014)

Orthodox: A right-handed boxer or right-handed boxing style (iSport Boxing, n.d.)

Passbook: A book containing the record of the boxer. Acts as a form of identification and is taken to the medical check-up prior to a bout. (iSport Boxing, n.d.)

Punch count: The number of clean punches that a boxer can throw per minute

Qualifying event: A tournament or championship that the winner of each class/division will be invited to the Olympic trials for their country.

Reach: the range a boxer has due to the length of their arms

Referee: means the person who ensures that the USA Boxing Technical Rules and these AOB/USA Boxing Competition Rules are followed by the Boxers during their Bouts in the ring (USA Boxing, 2014)

Ring: the field of play in the sport of boxing (USA Boxing, 2014)

Ring Generalship: This refers to the ability of a boxer to dictate the pace, style and tactics of a bout (The Rules UK, n.d.)

Round: One of a series of periods in a match. Each round is separated by a one-minute rest period. In most situations professional bouts have rounds lasting three minutes while amateur bouts have rounds that last two minutes (iSport Boxing, n.d.)

Sauna suit: A plastic shirt worn under the athlete’s clothes to induce sweating.

Seconds: means Coaches or Trainers who are certified by USA Boxing and who are allowed to act in the corner of the ring; Also referred to as “Cornerman” (USA Boxing, 2014)

Shadow boxing: a practice technique in which the boxer practices fighting an imaginary opponent using all shots, combinations, footwork, and defensive techniques.

Southpaw: Opposite of the orthodox fighter. A left-handed fighter who leads with the right foot in his/her stance (iSport Boxing, n.d.)

Sparring: practice fighting in which both boxers wear a significant amount of protective gear including, but not limited to, mouthpiece, headgear, heavier gloves, and groin protection

Sparring Gloves: a heavier sized glove that often fastens further up the wrist/lower arm and has the thumb stitched to the body of the glove.  A boxer often reserves these gloves solely for sparring to insure they are in the best possible condition in order to not accidentally injure a teammate while sparring.

Speed bag: A small, hanging, circular bag hit in sequence to improve a boxer’s rhythm and speed. (iSport Boxing, n.d.)

Straight Punch: A punch where the fist of the back hand moves directly from the face to the target that is accompanied by a simultaneous pivot of the back foot, engaging the muscles of the leg, buttocks, and abdomen.  This is often referred to as a "2".

Stance: how to stand when boxing.  See also: southpaw and orthodox

Static Stretching: part of the warm-up or cool down, this form of stretching involves holding one position for extended periods of time in order to stretch the muscle, as opposed to dynamic stretching which involves active movement in order to stretch the muscle.

Technical knockout (TKO): A Boxer will be declared the looser by technical knockout if any of he or she commits any of the following: retires voluntarily due to injury or if the Coach throws the towel into the ring or appears on the apron, however not while the Referee is counting; fails to resume boxing immediately after the rest period between rounds; is being outclassed or is receiving excessive punishment or hard blows; is unfit to continue and fails to resume boxing after a Knockdown; does not recover after ninety (90) seconds concerning a low blow; is knocked out of the ring and unable to return into the ring within thirty (30) seconds without any help; is unable to continue due to sustained injury from correct punches (USA Boxing, 2014)

Tournament: a competition where winners advance to another level, i.e. state, regional and national tournaments.  Also called an “Advancing competition” (USA Boxing, 2014)

Three-knockdown rule: A rule requiring that a boxer who is knocked down three times in the same round be declared knocked out. (iSport Boxing, n.d.)

Turtle cups: Women’s breast protectors must be constructed to protect the soft tissue of the breast up to the point that the breast protrusion merges with the chest wall. Breast protectors may not shield any other target area of the body except the protrusion of the breast. Right and left breast protectors, if connected, must be done so by a thin material that does not protect the breastbone. (USA Boxing, 2014) Click Here to learn more about turtle cups.

USA Boxing: means the National Governing Body of the USOC and National Federation of AIBA which governs all Olympic and international boxing in the United States of America (USA Boxing, 2014)

Weight class: competition divisions based on weight, such as "heavyweight" (Errey, n.d.)

Weight cut: A process of losing primarily water weight in order for an athlete to qualify for a certain weight class that is lower than their normal weight.

Weigh-in: means the checking of documents, medical status and weight of any Boxer to ensure that any Boxer meets registered Weight Category prior to the tournament draw (USA Boxing, 2014)