Popular Boxing Idioms

The split-decision of the Pacquiao vs. Bradley fight sure caused a lot of drama in every single sports bar last weekend. Whether or not you agreed with the BS call, you’d be surprised to learn just how many boxing phrases we use in our everyday lexicon. Here are explanations of the most common boxing idioms used outside of the ring.

1. “On the ropes” – doing badly and likely to fail
Boxing scenario – In boxing, this means that a fighter is literally on the ropes. Usually this happens because a fighter is hurt, or trapped in a bad spot by the opponent. Therefore, a fighter on the ropes is often in trouble.

Real world scenario – If there’s a damaging scandal about a celebrity, that would hurt and possibly end his or her acting career. That would mean that “his or her acting career is on the ropes.”

2. “Roll With The Punches” – to adjust to difficult events as they happen or deal well with criticism.
Boxing scenario – This phrase applies to when a boxer rolls his shoulder forward as to avoid the full force of the opponent’s punch. The fighter is still getting hit, but adjusting to the attack.

Real world scenario – When the Wright brothers were working on the first airplane, people probably made fun of them and criticized them, thinking their idea was crazy. However, the brothers were able to “roll with the punches”, eventually inventing the first successful airplane.

3. “Down But Not Out/Down For the Count” – struggling but not completely finished / totally finished.
Boxing scenario – “Down but not out” refers to a fighter being knocked down, but being able to get up and continue with the fight. Therefore, he wasn’t knocked out. “Down for the count” means a fighter is knocked down completely and can’t get up.

Real world scenario – If a local business is doing poorly with their sales and struggling to stay open, it is “down but not out”. However, after struggling, if it goes out of business and closes its doors, they are “down for the count.”

4. “Puncher’s Chance” – having a small chance at success; not impossible, but unlikely
Boxing scenario – Even if the opponent has won 11 out of 12 rounds and it doesn’t look like he can win, if the fighter has just one punch that can knock the opponent out, they still have a chance to win the whole fight.

Real world scenario – If a presidential candidate has been doing poorly in the polls and throughout their whole campaign, on Election Day, the candidate still has a “puncher’s chance” of pulling out the win if citizens vote for him.

What are some other examples you can use boxing idioms in your everyday life? Let us know on Facebook!