Week of August 16, 2020

Don’t Box Me In


It violates the rules of boxing to hit an opponent below the waist, so both the terms “low blow” and “below the belt,” indicating unfair conduct, come from this sport.


A bell marks the end of a boxing round but can also stop a knockout count, so the term “saved by the bell” indicates being rescued from a bad situation.


A boxer’s trainer can throw a towel into the ring to stop the fight if it is too dangerous for the boxer to continue, so “throw in the towel” means quitting or surrendering in an endeavor.


“Down and out” means a knocked-out boxer, or a destitute or defeated-feeling person, as opposed to being “down but not out,” when you’ve taken hits but may still recover.


“On the ropes” initially referred to a boxer who has been forced back against the ropes by an opponent with his or her movement also restricted, and was likely in trouble.


Each boxer has a designated corner where they recover between rounds with their trainer and any other support team members. Hence the origin of “to have someone in your corner.”


Boxing gloves offer some cushion for both puncher and punched, but when “the gloves are off,” it’s raw, bare-knuckle brawling.