Peek-a-boo (boxing style)

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Peek-a-boo is a boxing style which received its common name for the defensive hands position, which are normally placed in front of the boxer's face,[1][2] like in the baby's game of the same name. The technique is thought to offer extra protection to the face whilst making it easier to jab the opponent's face. The fighter holds their gloves close to their cheeks and pulls their arms tight against their torso. A major proponent of the style was trainer Cus D'Amato. The style was criticized by some[by whom?] because it was believed that an efficient attack could not be launched from it.[3]


Peek-a-boo's key principles are built upon the "Bad intentions" concept, which emphasize the D'amato philosophy. The general idea is that the Peek-a-boo practitioners are counterpunchers, who contrary to accustomed ways of counterpunching perceived as constantly backing-up and jabbing from the safe distance, move forward and do it with a lot of aggressiveness by constantly charging at the opponent, provoking him into throwing punches to counter, and subsequently into making mistakes to capitalize on, by creating openings and dominant angles of attack.

Hands and upper-body movement[edit]

Peek-a-boo boxing utilizes relaxed hands with the forearms in front of the face and the fist at nose-eye level.[4] Other unique features include side-to-side head movements, bobbing, weaving and blind siding the opponent.[5]

A fighter using the peek-a-boo style is drilled with the stationary dummy and on the bag until the fighter is able to punch by rapid combinations with what D'Amato called "bad intentions". The style allows swift neck movements as well as quick duckings and bad returning damage, usually by rising uppercuts or even rising hooks.[citation needed]


Peek-a-boo footwork and pelvic position are largely neglected by observers, who usually note only the upper-body and head movement, which are the most impressive features of the style, and are easily recognized visually. Peek-a-boo footwork is not that frequently noted by observers, which usually focus on the upper-body movement and striking, but it sets the base for both the effective upper-body movement and punching with leverage. The footwork is aimed to close the distance, crowd the opponent, cut-off his escape routes, negate his reach advantage, and create dominant angles for attack simultaneously. To be able to slip and counter the opponent's punches, the practitioner should be able to do it from a neutral or near-neutral stance, with his pelvis squared-up in parallel against the opponent's pelvis, for it creates more room for the lateral upper-body movement side-to-side with more amplitude, and places conventional boxers in an unfamiliar position relatively to the Peek-a-boo practitioners. Peek-a-boo pelvic movement also sets the momentum for uppercuts. As the Peek-a-boo footwork requires shifting and occasional stance-switching, ambidextrous boxers prevail over both orthodox and southpaws, gaining the ultimate advantage by constantly and deliberately changing their stance.

Known practitioners[edit]

In alphabetical order (with their respective trainees):

  • Teddy Atlas, was trained as a fighter, shown considerable initial success winning every subsequent fight by knockout, but after his spinal illness was discovered, D'Amato tutored him to be a trainer (Atlas actually became a trainer and cornerman for both Kevin Rooney and Mike Tyson in 1979-1982, while aging D'Amato relieved of his everyday training duties to be a mentor and resolve managerial issues.[6])
  • Joey Hadley, 1973 top U.S. middleweight amateur boxer.
  • Floyd Patterson, the first fighter to use the peek-A-boo effectively, becoming Olympic gold medalist and two-time Heavyweight Champion of the world. Also, the first man to ever win back the heavyweight championship.[7]
  • Kevin Rooney, Mike Tyson's former trainer, is an expert in peek-A-boo boxing, having once been a Golden Gloves champion.[8]
  • José Torres, who was trained and managed by D'Amato, won the silver medal in the 1956 Melbourne Summer Olympics, and won the Light Heavyweight world title by defeating Willie Pastrano.[9]
  • Mike Tyson, whose use of the style is probably the most famous example, was notorious for his amazing punching ability and excellent defense.[10]


  1. ^ "What is the peekaboo actually?". SugarBoxing. 2014-02-01. Archived from the original on 2015-09-26. Retrieved 2017-09-07.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  2. ^ "Tight-Defence Cus D'amato". YouTube. Retrieved 2014-05-07.
  3. ^ "Boxing Manager Cus D'Amato Dies at 77". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 23 December 2012.
  4. ^ Boyle, Robert (1967-01-16). "Cus Is Back Aboard A Big New Bus". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2012-10-27.
  5. ^ "The Science of Mike Tyson and Elements of Peek-A-Boo: part II". SugarBoxing. 2014-03-06. Archived from the original on 2015-09-25. Retrieved 2017-09-07.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  6. ^ Watch Me Now: A Documentary by Michael Marton (1983).
  7. ^ February 4, 2016, Floyd Patterson Biography
  8. ^ Simon Traversy, July 22, 2015 Cus D’Amato’s Boxing Gym: 30 Years After the Founder’s Death: Chapter II
  9. ^ Bill Gallo, January 19, 2009, A fine fighter and fellow, Jose Torres won a title and lots of friends
  10. ^ Slack, Jack (February 20, 2015). "Mike Tyson: The Panic, the Slip, and the Counter". Fightland. Retrieved 7 July 2015.