Sucker punch

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This article is about the fighting move. For other uses, see Sucker punch (disambiguation).

A sucker punch, also known as a coward punch, one hit punch, king hit (Australian English), or cold-cock (American English), is a punch made without warning, allowing no time for preparation or defense on the part of the recipient. The term is generally used in situations where the way in which the punch has been delivered is considered unfair or unethical. In practice, this often includes punches delivered from 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.[1] Because sucker punches come unexpectedly, people at risk of such blows must be alert to the proximity of potential opponents.[2]

During 2013 and 2014, there was significant media attention in Australia on two violent killings involving one hit punches.[3][4] 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.[5][6] This campaign was supported by the New South Wales Government.[6][7]

Culture and media[edit]

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 morals 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.[8] A sucker punch is a major dramatic element in the 2004 film Million Dollar Baby.

The term "sucker punch" was widely discussed after the New York Jets' starting quarterback Geno Smith was "sucker punched" by a fellow player, IK Enemkpali on August 11th, 2015. The altercation was in the locker room, and pertained to compensation regarding a $600 airplane ticket.


  1. ^ Mitch Abramson (4 December 2001). "The Anatomy of a Sucker Punch". Village Voice. 
  2. ^ Lawrence A. Kane, Kris Wilder (2005). "Physics, physiology and other considerations". The Way of Kata. p. 165. ISBN 978-1-59439-058-6. 
  3. ^ Dale, Amy (12 January 2014). "Police charge builder who allegedly coward-punched Daniel Christie with murder". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 
  4. ^ Hills, Brenden (16 November 2013). "Thomas Kelly murder case: timeline". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 
  5. ^ Tarr, Sophie (3 January 2014). "NSW cops, pollies, docs call out 'cowards'". The Courier-Mail. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 
  6. ^ a b "Push to refer to king hit attacks as 'coward punches' after teen left in coma". ABC online. 3 January 2014. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 
  7. ^ Needham, Kirsty (11 January 2013). "Sydney teen dies following king-hit punch". The Examiner. Retrieved 16 January 2014. 
  8. ^ In the Lucas Arts 1992 game Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, page 7 of the game manual states that "In most cases, you can 'sucker punch' your opponent and win the fight. Keep in mind that you don't get IQ points for using this option."