While everyone may not follow the sport of boxing, there’s no denying that it has influenced both, our culture and even the way we talk. Yes, the way we talk. You may not know it, but some of today’s most common phrases come from the history of boxing. Here are some of the Top Ten Boxing Terms that have become a regular part of everyday language.
“You’d better toe the line.” Telling someone to essentially, “get their act in order,” or “straighten-up,” was taken from Jack Broughton’s original Seven Rules of Boxing. In 1743, in an effort to “civilize” the sport, this former bare knuckle fighter crafted seven rules for combatants to follow. Rule #4 clearly states: “That no champion can be deemed beaten, unless he falls coming up to the line in the limited time.” Subsequently, “placing one’s toe on the line,” has become a common phrase and has since taken on its own meaning in the English language.
“Well, that was really below the belt.” Sometime after 1810, when King George III awarded bare-knuckle fighter, Tom Cribb, the first title belt for his accomplishments in the squared-circle, the term, “hitting someone below the belt” became popular. Even though it originally meant hitting someone in, or around their “private parts,” it has since become commonly used to mean “verbally taking a cheap shot at someone” or doing something underhanded. It’s actually not very positive in any case.“Sometimes you just have to roll with the punches.” In training, fighters learn early-on to anticipate incoming punches and, instead of embracing for impact, moving with them, to lessen the force. This boxing technique is known as “rolling with punches” and has worked its way into common terminology. It has become a phrase used to encourage people to “go with the flow,” to not get caught up in the details, and to be adaptable. It’s good advice, inside the ring and out.
“He was saved by the bell.” Before it was the title of a popular TV sitcom or meant that you “got a lucky break,” it originated from early boxing rules. It means that when one boxer is knocked down by a punch and the referee isn’t able to reach the count of 10 before the bell sounds, signifying the end of the round, the fighter can stumble, be helped, or crawl to his corner and have time to recover. The count doesn’t continue. He is, in essence, “saved by the bell.” Beyond boxing, it has come to insinuate that you were somehow “let off the hook” or that you, somehow, defied fate.
“You really beat them to the punch with that one.” Although it’s obvious what this common phrase means, in terms of boxing, now it’s used to describe anytime someone “gets the upper hand” on someone else or makes the first move, rather than actually getting hit first.
Charles "Kid" McCoy
“Is that the ‘Real McCoy?” Norman Selby, or better known in the ring as Charles “Kid” McCoy, was a boxer in the 1920’s and 30’s, who had the reputation for being eccentric, outgoing, but also wildly unpredictable. This was even displayed in his outings in the boxing ring, when spectators and sportswriters would wonder which version of the fighter would enter the ring on fight night, the real fighter or the guy just making a show of it.
“It’s time to throw in the towel." Although today this term is used to describe someone surrendering when facing imminent danger or admitting defeat, this practice actually first occurred around 1913. Corner men began tossing their towels into the ring to prompt the referee to stop a fight when their fighter was getting badly beaten. Soon after that, “throwing in the sponge” (also a common tool used by corner men) started taking place. Oddly enough, this practice never quite caught on and, obviously, didn’t make it into the mainstream vernacular.
“He really knows the ropes.” Almost everyone knows that boxing matches take place in a square ring, between four ropes and the fighter’s on that stage display a high level of skill, intelligence, and employ a high-level of strategy. They know-their-way-around-the-ring, so to speak, or “know the ropes.” Today, it is said that, anyone who fully understands a situation or knows a lot about what they do, that they “know the ropes.”
“He has that killer instinct.” This phrase was first used in the 1930’s to describe fighter, Jack Dempsey, who brought an unprecedented, unbridled rage, and an aggressive approach into the ring. In a society where boxing had previously been referred to as a Gentlemen’s Sport and Manly Art, Dempsey’s “take-no-prisoner’s approach” created a newfound excitement, captured everyone’s attention, and shed light on the real brutality of the sport. The “killer instinct” term has since become synonymous with businessmen who make decisions to win at-all-costs and individuals who have an unrelenting desire to succeed.“Give ‘em the ole’ One-Two.” Although now this means to “teach someone a lesson” or get straight to the point, in boxing vernacular, it refers to a very specific boring technique. As early as the 1900’s, boxing trainers used numbers to symbolize specific combinations. It was a way to identify exact punches quickly and efficiently. In essence, a ONE is a Left Jab and a TWO is a Straight Right Cross. These are two of the most basic and effective punches in boxing. Basic, effective and straight-to-the-point. Today it means being very direct or avoiding “formalities.”
We oftentimes adapt certain phrases or slang terms, not really even knowing what their true meaning is or where they came from. Now that you have the real story, you can turn those everyday phrases into some tough talk and put more punch in your punctuation.
You never know where your inspiration may come from. And as the saying goes, “timing is everything.” That could not be truer, especially for Anne Chow. Anne is extremely busy, to say the least. Anne is passionate about the people in her life: family, friends, community, and company. She is a wife, mother of two daughters, good friend to many, and sits on several boards including the Girl Scouts of the USA. Oh, and by the way, she is the president of AT&T National Business where she leads a team of more than 12,000 business professionals supporting AT&T’s more than 3 million business customers nationwide. Just this year alone, Anne was named the 2018 Most Inspiring Woman in Comms by Light Reading, voted as one of thirty top Women in Business by the Dallas Business Journal and was recognized as CRN’s Women of the Channel: Power 100. She’s also a foodie, a music buff and now loves boxing!
About a year after relocating from New Jersey to Dallas, Anne realized that she needed to make some major changes – to take charge of her physical, mental, and spiritual health. It was her discovery of the TITLE Boxing Club* in Southlake, Texas that became her inspiration and the timing could not have been better for the multi-faceted executive at AT&T.
Here’s a blog that Anne wrote back on May 3, 2017, discussing her journey as a Founding Member at the Southlake TITLE Boxing Club. The discovery of this outlet and her newfound boxing life provide a certain balance to her busy professional and personal life. She finds many parallels between her boxing workouts and the challenges she sees daily in business and in life.
“Rhythm is everything in boxing. Every move you make starts with your heart, and that’s in rhythm or you’re in trouble.” – Sugar Ray Robinson
This month marks a full year since I realized that I had lost myself and seriously needed to do something to find my way back. It started about a year after we relocated from New Jersey to Texas, uprooting two teenage daughters and leaving the multi-decade comfort of our lives on the East Coast. New job, new boss, new home, new everything – and to top it all off, I was rapidly approaching a major milestone birthday (yes, the big one) and was in the worst shape of my life. Indeed, to my dismay, everything was bigger in Texas, including me! So I went searching…
Then, through a little science and a bit of serendipity, I discovered TITLE Boxing Club. Though at first, my body reminded me every day of how far I had fallen, my mind was motivated to keep going. My journey over the past year has only just begun, involving body-mind-heart-and-soul in a way that I never thought possible. And while the choice of boxing may seem arbitrary, I’m finding that there are numerous similarities to business which continue to drive me forward – in more ways than one. I’d like to share my top six lessons with you:
1) Watch Your Position – I have a tendency, whether it’s versus the heavy bag, or versus my trainer, to get caught up in the heat of the moment punch or move, opening myself up, losing my form… becoming exposed. This is not dissimilar to actions and moves we make in the market – sometimes we can get so focused on what we’re doing that we lose sight of those around us, including our competition. Be sure you position yourself to always see the forest from the trees.
2) Protect Your Moneymaker – No doubt you’ve heard this one before and of course in boxing, this refers to your face. But how about in business? Where are your margins coming from? How do you think about your core businesses and yes, while you must protect them at all times, you must keep an eye on what the future moneymakers will be – or you’ll be left in the dust as the pace of change and innovation accelerates. If you don’t protect your moneymakers and your existing customers, you won’t be able to fund your growth and pursue innovation as aggressively as needed.
3) Train (and Re-Train) Your Muscle Memory – Turns out that the tennis topspin forehand I trained so hard on when I was younger works hugely against me when I’m throwing a right hook! No question in today’s world we have to often break old habits/assumptions and form new ones. This can be challenging especially if we’ve been doing something the same way for a while. In fact, key requirements for success in the 21st century are adaptability and agility – and this is especially applicable when it comes to our own skills, knowledge, and experiences.
4) Engage Your Core – In fitness, your core is a collection of muscles that stabilize and move your spine. A strong core is vital for balance and stability. The broader life analogy here is obvious. Our core = our values, our integrity and our character; and without it, we are lost. Every moment of every day with every single action – whether it be in your personal life or professional life – your core is engaged. Hopefully it’s strong. Thanks to the media we know what can happen when it’s not - the results can range from embarrassing to bad to catastrophic.
5) You’re Gonna Have to Sweat – Self-explanatory. Do you believe that anything worth doing or achieving is going to take work?
6) It Takes a Village – While boxing may seem like a solitary thing, the surprise for me at TITLE Boxing Club is how much the “village” matters. Whether it’s the trainers, owner, staff, or fellow members, the support and camaraderie are wonderful. As I’ve said many times before, life is all about relationships…be sure to seek and foster meaningful ones. It’s the people in your life that really matter, wouldn’t you agree?
Sound familiar? Do these parallels across boxing, business, and life make sense to you? Anyone care to share their own personal journey of discovery? I’m very fortunate to have found a path that’s helping me to become my most fit self – body, mind, heart and soul. Proof positive that it’s never too late to become your own champion and to champion others. After all, if we are to fully enable the greatness in those around us, we must first find the greatness in ourselves.
Anne was kind of enough to dive deeper into her TITLE Boxing Club experience and perhaps be that inspiration for others on their own personal journey.
Would you say TITLE Boxing Club was a “game changer” for you after your first year in Dallas, both personally and professionally? And if yes, in what way?
TBC was absolutely a game changer for me after moving to Dallas and remains one of the big positives of the move here. Moving to a different part of the country with family in tow, leaving friends and family, getting a new job, trying to establish yourself in a new community you’re completely unfamiliar with were all major life stressors. After the first year in Dallas, I knew I had to make a change in my life as I was buckling under the stress and becoming increasingly unhealthy. I searched for and tried different workouts for several months, but nothing really “clicked”. Through a bit of fate, a new TBC was opening up in my town of Southlake, and I went to check it out during their grand opening. While I couldn’t do a full class, I could tell that this was going to be the workout which would challenge me in many ways – so I signed up (on a bit of an impulse) on the spot to be a founding member at the club. Not only did it challenge me, but it changed me – for the better, personally and professionally. I am healthier than I have ever been – not just physically, but mentally too. TBC has become my passion, and I love the community of people I’ve met – from fellow members to the trainers to the owner and staff. I’ve developed friendships and relationships with people whom I would have never crossed paths with had I not joined.
You mentioned your journey had just begun involving body – mind – heart – and - soul. What specifically did you learn about yourself that you didn’t realize before starting the “journey” with TITLE Boxing Club?
When I first started with TBC, I couldn’t get through a class. I was in the worst shape of my life and it was not only affecting me physically, but mentally and emotionally too. I knew I had to change so despite struggling for weeks and months, I kept with it. I had bought a full year's membership as a birthday present to myself, and I was determined to get an ROI. In the past, my attention span and commitment would wane. In the case of TBC, the big difference for me was the connection of focus required to get through class. Not only did I have to work physically, but I had to focus intensely on what the trainers were saying to get the most out of the workout. And what turned out to be a bonus was the emotional release I was getting as well, whether it was through boxing or kickboxing. I fell in love with the sport – which incorporates both art and science – and as a workout it’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.
What were the challenges you had at the beginning with your TITLE Boxing Club experience and what advice would you give someone just starting out?
The challenges I experienced in the beginning were largely physical in nature – but this time, the fact that I couldn’t do everything served as fuel for me to push on. In the past I would have let my physical state drive my psyche, but with TBC, I was in it for the long run, so I focused on the little steps and small progress made vs. being held hostage to a number on a scale. I also started working with my favorite trainer one-on-one to ensure that my technique and form
was right - this helped motivate me immensely. To someone just starting out, I’d say – stick with it! Focus on you – on how you feel – on being the fittest you can be – mind, body, and heart. Boxing is a sport that connects these dimensions of yourself as a matter of course…so approach it that way to get the most out of the experience. And I’d also say, take it at your own pace. You’re not trying to beat anyone (unless you’re punching your trainers mitts!) – you’re working to become your very best self. And – you can do it! You’re never too old, and it’s never too late to start.
Jeff has been in the fight game, both boxing and mixed martial arts, for well over a decade. He has learned the ropes from Hall-of-Fame Referee Richard Steele promoting shows in Nevada and Texas where he has covered all aspects of an event from PR, sponsorships, site coordination to negotiations with venues and appearances with stars such as UFC legend Chuck Liddell. Jeff has also been a writer for several years for one of boxing's most popular sites, Fightnews.com, where he continues to cover the Texas fight scene. Jeff has interviewed and covered fights for some of the biggest names in the sport including Manny Pacquiao, Canelo Alvarez and Terence Crawford. He also has covered and interviewed rising superstar Errol Spence Jr. on multiple occasions. Jeff gives many hours of his time to support two outstanding non-profits, Richard Steele Foundation & Boxing Club and Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame, serving as a special advisor and leading their social media efforts.
TITLE Board of Advisors:
A running series of blog posts collected by TITLE Boxing through our relationships with individuals inside the sport. Fighters, trainers, managers, dieticians, referees and more have offered their words, and we bring them to you here.
*Please note, TITLE Boxing and TITLE Boxing Club, while having a close working relationship, are separate companies. The TITLE Boxing brand is seen in boxing gyms, both competitive- and exercise-focused, and on fighters, coaches, trainers and fitness enthusiasts around the world. TITLE Boxing Club is a corporation that operates 100% independently/franchise-owned fitness boxing gyms. This article is not an endorsement by the TITLE Boxing brand of one TITLE Boxing Club location over the other.