Boxing Champions and When to Throw in the Towel

Nate Boyle
throw in the towel

Deontay Wilder, the now former WBC heavyweight champion, is no stranger to being knocked down. After all, he was knocked down twice before losing his title to Tyson Fury when a trainer decided to throw in the towel during their rematch.

Yet Wilder has never been knocked out. His tenacity and perseverance are a testament to his grit and determination. His mindset is that he will never give up, no matter how many times he falls.

Meaning of throw in the towel

Throw in the towel is a common expression used in English. It is often used in reference to a trainer or cornerman literally throwing a towel into the ring, signifying that the fight should end. This may be due to the boxer being overwhelmed by his opponent, being knocked down, or because of some other circumstance.

The phrase is also used metaphorically to refer to someone facing reality, particularly in the face of a difficult situation. To throw in the towel is to surrender, giving up, or admit impending defeat. And is now commonly used in sports and politics.

Boxing is the likely origin of throwing in the towel

Towels have been used in boxing since at least the late 19th century. They were initially used to protect the boxer’s hands, which were wrapped in bandages, but they also served to soak up sweat.

The practice of throwing a towel into the ring began with a 1920s match between Jack Dempsey and Luis Firpo. Dempsey knocked down Firpo three times in the first round, and the fight was stopped. When Firpo’s manager threw a towel into the ring, the referee interpreted this as a signal of surrender and declared Dempsey, the winner.

In his fight against Rocky Marciano, Jersey Joe Walcott was knocked down six times in the first round. Walcott’s trainer, Joe Pascale, threw in the towel to stop the fight. However, Marciano’s manager said that he had never heard of a towel being thrown in to stop a fight, and Walcott continued. He was knocked down a seventh time, and the fight was stopped.

In his fight against Marvin Hagler, Sugar Ray Leonard was knocked down five times in the first round. Leonard’s trainer, Angelo Dundee, threw in the towel to stop the fight.

During the match between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Márquez, Márquez’s cornerman, Rafael Ramos, threw in the towel in the middle of the sixth round. Márquez was ahead on points at the time, and his corner claimed that the towel was thrown in because Márquez had a shoulder issue.

No shame in second shots

In his second fight with Fury on April 13th, 2019, Wilder delivered a knockout in the 12th round, successfully defending his WBC heavyweight title belt. He did so by using his signature power. A left hook that knocked Fury down twice before finishing him off with a right uppercut.

But now Wilder stands defeated. No doubt questions in his mind from that night. Truth and reasons as yet to be defined. And his future very much in doubt.

Wilder’s “never say die” attitude is an inspiration for those in the crowd. The rest of us who struggle with life choices and consider throwing in the towel.

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