A sucker punch, also known as a king-hit or coward-punch, is a punch made without warning, allowing no time for preparation or defense on the part of the recipient. The term is generally reserved for situations where the way in which the punch has been delivered is considered unfair or unethical. In practice, this often includes punches delivered from close-range or behind.
In boxing, a sucker punch thrown outside of the rules is illegal. For example, when James Butler knocked Richard Grant unconscious after losing a fight to him on points, his license was suspended. Because sucker punches come unexpectedly, people at risk of such blows must be alert to the proximity of potential opponents.
During 2013 and 2014 there was significant media attention in Australia on two violent killings involving king-hits. Noting that 91 people had died in Australia in the previous four years from brain trauma as a result of being king-hit, a media campaign was launched to refer to king-hits as coward punches. This campaign was supported by the New South Wales Government.
The sucker punch has been adapted into many films, video games and other forms of media. It can be used to show the antagonist's vileness, the low moral of an anti-hero, betrayal of someone close to the protagonist, etc., but it also can be used as a weapon of the protagonist to deal with an unfair situation. A sucker punch is a major dramatic element in the 2004 film Million Dollar Baby.