March 06, 2008

#01-081: Boxing Idioms - Part III: A Heavyweight

portrait of a young black man (Muhammad Ali), with close-cropped hair and a serious look on his face
Muhammad Ali, three-times heavyweight champion of the world

Note: A final lesson on terms used in boxing, the so-called "sport of kings." Here's a mixed bag of various idioms. See Lessons #01-079 and #01-080 for more boxing idioms.

Get Ready: Why do you think a brutal sport like boxing was called "the sport of kings"?

Let's finish off our boxing idioms with a miscellaneous selection.

Read the dialogue, taking note of the underlined words. Then do the Practice below, check your answers in the first Comment, and read the Explanations.

Mel and Bob wrap up their meeting, using a few more miscellaneous boxing idioms.

Mel: Hey, Bob, have you thought of throwing your hat into the ring for the new management position?

Bob: I'm not sure. I may need to stay in my current position for another round.

Mel: Well, I just want you to know, if you decide to go for it I'm in your corner.

Bob: Wow! It's great to have a heavyweight like you on my side!

Mel: Seriously? Nah, I'm kind of a lightweight compared to some of the other execs around here.

Bob: Come on! I've seen you take off the gloves in a meeting, and I wouldn't want to square off with you.

Mel: Let's hope it never comes to that! I don't think either of us is ready to take one on the chin!


Read more:

Practice: Match the idiom to its meaning. After you check your answers in the first comment, read on for Explanations about each one.

  1. heavyweight
  2. in your corner
  3. lightweight
  4. round
  5. square off
  6. take off the gloves
  7. take one on the chin
  8. throw one's hat into the ring

  1. someone or something with a lot of influence
  2. someone or something with little influence
  3. declare one's availability for something
  4. on your side
  5. period of a series of events
  6. prepare to fight
  7. be hit in a very damaging way
  8. get serious about something

Answers are in the first comment below.

Explanation of the Answers: After you check your answers in the first comment below, read on for more information on these idioms.

  • heavyweight: someone or something with a lot of influence. Boxers fight in various weight classes; we often use the names of two of these categories to describe people or companies: "Microsoft is a heavyweight in the software industry." (see "lightweight" below)
  • in your corner: on your side, have someone's support. As mentioned below, the boxers take a rest between rounds in opposite corners of the ring. Naturally, a boxer's coach, trainer, and others might be there with him. You would never see one boxer's coach in the other's corner! "My boss really likes me; it's good to have him in my corner."
  • lightweight: someone or something with little influence: "No one listens to my boss; he's a real lightweight."
  • round: This is one of the (usually ten) short periods of a boxing match. We now use the term for any of a series of events: "Bruvver Limited may have beat us in the first round of sales, but we'll catch up next quarter." It can also be slightly more literal: "I had to go several rounds with my boss before he agreed to give me the day off."
  • square off: to face in preparation for a fight. At the beginning of the fight, the boxers position themselves ("square off"); when the bell rings they start. So it can carry the connotation of "challenge": "KFC and McDonalds are squaring off for a price war."
  • take off the gloves: get serious about something. Boxing with the gloves on is somewhat gentlemanly; bare-knuckle boxing is brutal. In the days of informal fights, one boxer might get angry, take off his gloves, and start fighting out of control. So in business we might say, "I finally took off the gloves and told my boss what I really thought of him."
  • take one on the chin: be hit in a very damaging way. A boxer may take blows in many places on his body; but to take one on the chin could cause a knockout. "Whoa! Look how low these sales figures are! We really took one on the chin last quarter." Also "take it on the chin"
  • throw one's hat into the ring: Boxing is now a highly regulated sport. But as you can imagine, in the early days things were rougher and often more spontaneous. A "champion" would ask who wanted to fight him; a "challenger" would throw his hat into the ring to signify his willingness. These days we often use the term in politics: "Mr. Breen threw his hat into the ring yesterday, announcing his candidacy for mayor."

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for March 6, 2008

This lesson received 513 visits on my old site between March, 2012, and July, 2021.

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. a; 2. d; 3. b; 4. e; 5. f; 6. h; 7. g; 8. c