There are a lot of rules in boxing, governing everything from where you’re allowed to punch your opponent, to your gloves and even the punching technique you are allowed to use.
There are many reasons for these rules, but the primary reason is to create a safer means for boxers to fight without risking serious injury to particularly vulnerable areas of the body, such as the back of the head, neck, and other regions of the body.
This may sound strange, after all, boxing is a combat sport, right? Shouldn’t you be allowed to throw whatever punch you need to in order to win?
This was the case in early boxing before the Marquess of Queensbury rules were introduced in 1867, which outlawed certain practices in boxing to make fights fairer, more competitive, and reduce the instances of death and injury for fighters.
The modern rules of boxing are derived from these early rules.
Boxing is an incredibly popular sport and arguably the most popular combat sport in the world, however, it’s amazing how little people know about the rules of boxing, or certain forbidden practices and techniques.
In this guide, we’re going to look at what rabbit punches are, as well as how to make sure you don’t use them, why they’re banned, and other important things to know about this dangerous punch.
What Is A Rabbit Punch?
A rabbit punch is a blow to the back of an opponent’s head, near the base of the skull where there are a lot of delicate vertebrae, arteries, nerves, and of course the spinal column.
This is an incredibly vulnerable part of the body, and even seemingly minor damage to this area can cause life-changing or life-threatening injuries which can lead to paralysis, brain damage, and a host of other devastating outcomes.
While boxing is a brutal sport and naturally comes with many risks to fighter health, the rules have developed over time to help reduce the risks to boxer’s health as much as possible.
No one wants to see elite athletes and gifted fighters get permanently hurt, and so certain punches and techniques are banned, with stiff and serious penalties and legal consequences for anyone who repeatedly or maliciously breaks these rules.
The term ‘rabbit punch’ is derived from the name of a technique used by game hunters to quickly kill rabbits and small creatures with a quick, hard strike to the back of the head.
The rabbit punch is banned from almost all striking-related combat sports, from boxing to MMA and other disciplines that involve some form of striking, which indicates just how wary officials and fighters are of this lethal and dangerous technique.
Some people have been confused or misled about the meaning of the term rabbit punch, and believe that it is a term used for weak punches or punches thrown with incorrect technique, however, this is incorrect and the only true definition is the one highlighted above.
Why Is The Rabbit Punch Banned?
Because it’s too dangerous and poses a serious risk to athlete health. Many boxers have been seriously injured and killed by rabbit punches over the years.
Some may argue that boxers have also been killed by other punches, or just by taking too much punishment in a fight.
While this is technically true, the modern game is very closely monitored, and the standard of officiating as well as medical assistance is much higher than it has been previously, which makes these sorts of health risks far less common.
The rabbit punch is banned because it doesn’t work by accumulating damage that can be monitored and prevented.
Rabbit punches are capable of dealing instant and catastrophic damage to a person, and it can happen too quickly for a referee to prevent it from happening, which is why it’s banned outright, and fighters are trained rigorously to avoid this technique.
The History of the Rabbit Punch
Before the Marquess of Queensbury rules were implemented, rabbit punches were likely far more common, but in these brutal days of unlicensed and often bare-knuckle fighting, rules were few and far between and deaths and serious injury were all too common, and people didn’t understand the full extent and seriousness of the rabbit punch and its risks.
How to Avoid Throwing Rabbit Punches
The best way to avoid throwing rabbit punches is to ensure that you only aim your punches for the front or sides of an opponent’s head, their body, and use the correct technique when targeting both.
Hooks and looping punches are often the biggest cause of rabbit punches, as they can end up hitting opponents in the vulnerable base of the skull due to unfortunate head movement, timing, or just bad luck.
As a defender, keeping your guard up, always facing your opponent head-on, and keeping your head in motion are the best ways to avoid getting hit in the back of the head, or at all.
What is the Penalty for Throwing Rabbit Punches?
Rabbit punches are one of the most controversial aspects of boxing and have serious consequences for those who use them.
In the ring, penalties can vary from having points deducted all the way to disqualification depending on the nature of the punch, whether it was thrown intentionally or unintentionally as well as the severity of the effect the punch has on the victim.
Sometimes a warning may be given in accidental circumstances where no bad effects were caused.
For more serious offenses, point deductions and disqualification are used, however, there may also be cases where a boxer may be sued outside of the ring depending on the extent of the damage a rabbit punch causes.
If a boxer is killed or permanently injured by a rabbit punch, serious legal proceedings can see boxers disgraced, banned from the sport, or even taken to criminal court.
Thankfully, cases of injury from rabbit punches are rare, as most boxers are schooled against using them, and so boxers frown upon their use.
There are still accidents that occur, however, and the fight business has inherent risks that can never be fully avoided, so never take up boxing or even sparring lightly, as it could have life-changing consequences for you or your opponent.
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