"I'm guessing head trauma."
"Boxing has nothing to do with logic. It is sport taken to its purest nut. It is muscles, sweat, guts, torque, load...I mean, you ever meet a
logical person who would bite off another man's ear?"
— Ray Kowalski
, Due South
("Mountie and Soul")
Largely associated with Mystery of the Week
television series, this is an episode that is wholly or in part structured around the sport of boxing. These episodes tend to crop up most often in action/adventure
and crime solving series
, but they can also be played for laughs in sitcoms
For the purposes of the episode, one of the show's regular characters will usually be revealed as a boxing aficionado
. This can serve one of two purposes: providing a reason for the characters to attend or take part in a boxing event (when the course of the show normally wouldn't take them there), or allowing the character in question to offer some key piece of information that would only be known to someone who is familiar with the ins and outs of the world of boxing. The character's boxing savvy will rarely if ever be revisited outside the confines of The Boxing Episode.
Mixed Martial Arts
may be used as a substitute for boxing. May involve an element of Fight Clubbing
or Gladiator Games
. Often this will be the result of a former boxer falling on hard times
and entering a world of underground fighting
to make ends meet
, provide for his ailing child/wife/etc
, or as an attempt to hang on to the limelight
Compare with Pro Wrestling Episode
and the Forced Prizefight
. For films and other works that are actually about boxing, see Sports Stories
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Anime & Manga
- One of the early episodes of Digimon Savers involved the Monster of the Week interfering with Touma's idol's boxing matches. However, he had been shown to be a proficient boxer before this episode, and his Digimon partner wears boxing gloves, so this didn't come entirely out of nowhere...
- An episode of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex involved Batou investigating a famous boxer suspected of criminal activity.
- Gokusen has a boxing episode, as part of a Save The School plotline.
- One Piece has the main character box against someone too, against exactly one person... Afro Luffy is the result.
- An early chapter of Shaman King had Yoh use the ghost of a boxing coach to help out his pupil. At the end of the chapter, after getting all kinds of bruises during the fight, Yoh decides that he doesn't want to partner with the ghost of a boxing champ anymore.
- The first episode of Kill la Kill had Ryuko Matoi take on Takaharu Fukuroda in a boxing match, though she was allowed to use her sword.
- Superman vs Muhammad Ali. Incredibly enough, Muhammad Ali wins, in a Justified case, Superman didn't have his Yellow-sun strength.
- Marvel Two-in-One Annual #7: A famous story where The Thing and several other Marvel heroes fight the Champion of the Universe in a series of boxing matches. This comic was later made into a Wrestling Episode of Dial M for Monkey.
- In an issue of Justice League the Blue Beetle challenges Guy Gardner to a boxing match when he gets sick of Guy calling him out of shape and useless. Beetle wins, which would be surprising considering that Guy was one of the team's heavy hitters and Beetle was the comedy relief and tech-support guy ... except for the fact that Guy was a Green Lantern without his Power Ring in a fistfight with a Badass Normal.
- There was a boxing-themed Hellraiser comic called "The Sweet Science". It was kind of stupid.
- Batman #371 is a boxing story that scarcely features Batman at all.
- Daredevil at one point had a Heroic BSOD / Easy Amnesia combo, and in a new guise of ... some guy who's name isn't important, he started boxing. This makes him for his own experience a bit of a Legacy Character because his father was a boxing champion as well. This happens for a few issues so it's not an "episode" per se more of an arc, but still goes.
- Cazador: The title character had to take on a cybernetics-enhanced zombie Mike Tyson in one issue, as a homage to Superman vs Muhammad Ali mentioned above.
- Max Linder's Boxing Match.
- "Any Old Port" is a Laurel and Hardy short where Ollie agrees to enter a boxing match for some quick money - he agrees to enter Stanley.
- The Three Stooges' second Columbia short, Punch Drunks. Also, Shemp's first Columbia Stooge short, Fright Night (along with its remake, Fling in the Ring).
- A Tom Swift book features Tom facing off against an evil kickboxing contender and developing an exoskeleton that allows him to face the kickboxer in the ring.
- The Ellery Queen stories Mind Over Matter and A Matter of Seconds involve boxing.
Live Action TV
- Ally McBeal, with kickboxing.
- Are You Being Served?: Captain Peacock is challenged to a boxing match, but backs out. Mr. Humphries is chosen to take his place in a wrestling match and loses. Then Mrs. Slocombe enters the ring.
- The A-Team, episode 3x16, "Champ!" Face wants to invest a substantial portion of the Team's money in a boxer named Billy Marquette, but in the process they discover that a local sleaze named Sonny Monroe is rigging boxing matches. B.A. goes undercover as an unbeatable boxer so the team can take Monroe down.
- One of Babylon 5's episodes, "TKO", has an old friend of Garibaldi's (a boxer named Walker Smith) come back to Babylon 5 for an alien boxing match. This is also remarkable as one of the only episodes of the show in which almost nothing is important to the overall arc of the show.
- The 1960s Batman show had an episode where Batman had to fight The Riddler with a silly accent in a boxing match.
- Battlestar Galactica uses this as a premise to let the main characters beat the tar out of one another over recent goings on midway through season 3.
- Bones and Booth fly to Las Vegas to investigate a murder, and discover a women's underground MMA fighting ring.
- Cold Case: "Yo Adrian", doubling as a Whole Plot Reference to Rocky.
- Criminal Minds had "The Bittersweet Science". A borderline psychotic wannabee boxer starts beating to death anyone who mocks him ("So I'm a punching bag, huh?!")
- CSI, episode 3x07, "Fight Night." Grissom investigates the death of a boxer in the ring that appears to be murder.
- CSI: New York, episode 6x20, "Tales from the Undercard." In the course of the episode it's revealed that Mac (Gary Sinise) is a boxing fan, which helps him identify the victim as a boxer due to certain injuries.
- Diagnosis: Murder: "Standing Eight Count". A boxer whom Dr. Jack Stewart idolized was framed for the murder of the boxer who beat him and turned down a rematch due to health issues.
- The Dick Van Dyke Show: in one of the many Flashback episodes Rob is in the Army, where everyone has to learn boxing and have at least three fights.
- As mentioned in the intro quote, the third season Due South episode "Mountie and Soul" focused on boxing. Detective Stanley Ray Kowalski is identified as not only a boxing fan, but also a layman coach for a young boxer implicated in a fellow boxer's death.
Kowalski: Yeah, how'd you know?
- The first season episode "Diefenbaker's Day Off" also featured boxing, since Fraser and Ray Vecchio help a former boxer.
- Ellery Queen: "The Adventure of the Sunday Punch". During a practice bout, a lucky shot knocks champion boxer Kid Hogan unconscious. He revives enough to sip some water from his manager's "swill bottle," then falls comatose and is soon pronounced dead. An autopsy reveals he was poisoned, and the "swill bottle" was loaded with poison.
- Family Matters: In the episode "Requiem for an Urkel," the series' main protagonist Steve Urkel (a nerdy, 98-pound weakling) has problems with a bully and the two get into a scuffle at school, a teacher has the two settle their differences in the ring. Urkel winds up receiving a beat down… but the others who were threatened by the bully declare their intent to fight the bully after he finishes off Urkel, causing him to run off.
- A boxer (Ben Murphy) arrives on Fantasy Island to clobber an opponant who beat him in the past.
- The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: Will gets beat up by Nicky's female boxing instructor.
- Friday the 13th: The Series had "Shadow Boxer", which naturally revolved around a pair of cursed boxing gloves.
- Friends: "The One With The Ultimate Fighting Champion", where Monica's millionaire boyfriend wants to be the Ultimate Fighting Champion.
- An early episode of The Fugitive had Richard Kimble working as a boxing cut man.
- The George Lopez Show: George signs Max up for a children's boxing class in order to boost Max's self-esteem. Laila Ali (daughter of Muhammad Ali) guest stars.
- Hilariously subverted in one episode of Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., where Sgt. Carter challenges an obnoxious Navy officer to a boxing match, claiming to have once been known as "Killer Carter." Turns out that was in high school and the guy he challenged was a reigning fleet champion. Carter spends the whole episode training, the squad engages in a Zany Scheme to help him...and he goes down with one punch.
- Happy Days: Ralph boxes another boy for the hand of a girl. Only one problem: he doesn't know how to box. Link. In a much later episode we see Chachi in the ring too.
- Hell on Wheels featured an episode in season one where two characters duke it out in a boxing match, both representing the morale between the white and black workers.
- Somewhat justified in the Highlander TV series, since Mac seems to obsessively study every form of combat he comes across (with good reason).
- In the Hogan's Heroes episode "The Softer They Fall", Kinchloe boxed against a German (Those Wacky Nazis') as (naturally) part of a scheme to divert attention from a heist.
- There was more to it than that. Early in the episode, Kinch agreed to spar with the German boxer, Battling Bruno, and knocked him out. General Burkhalter told Klink that Hitler would be furious to find out that a German was defeated by a black man, bringing up Jesse Owens' performance at the 1936 Olympics. A rematch is slated - with a German referee, German judges and with Bruno wearing horseshoes inside his gloves. Kinch knocked out Bruno again but with their heist completed, Hogan threw in the towel, making Bruno the winner.
- The Honeymooners: In "The Bensonhurst Bomber", Ralph Kramden inadvertently challenges a much tougher person to a boxing match.
- Human Target - "Corner Man", where Chance poses as a star prize-fighter, to con a billionaire who's threatening his client into betting everything against him in a championship tournament.
- iCarly: the one-hour special "iFight Shelby Marx", in which Carly watches MMA fighter Shelby Marx (played by Victoria Justice) on TV and, as a joke, challenges her to a match. Shelby accepts.
- I Dream of Jeannie: "The Strongest Man In the World".
- The Incredible Hulk got this one out of the way. In the first single-hour episode, "The Final Round", David befriends a boxer who is unwittingly delivering drugs and then is supposed to suffer a fatal heart attack during a fight. This was the first instance of Banner being conveniently being knocked out so that he doesn't Hulk out until later.
- It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: the episode "Hundred Dollar Baby" centers around Dee taking boxing for self-defense and Charlie training for an underground fighting ring.
- Just Shoot Me!: Dennis goes out with a female boxer, but is challenged by her ex-girlfriend, also a boxer.
- The Jeffersons: George boxed in the Navy, and puts the equipment on again after he gets in a disagreement with another man at the gym. Louise tried to plead with the man to go easy on George:
Louise: He only has one kidney!
Other Guy: Really? Which one? I'd hate to waste a good kidney punch.
- Then Louise bribes the other guy to throw the fight; meanwhile George decides to throw the fight himself, so they spend the entire fight not hitting each other, waiting for the other to hit them so they can fall down. Link.
- In Kamen Rider OOO, one two-parternote has the Victim of the Week be a boxer who's being forced into retirement for health reasons, while the villains try to expoit his desire to get back in the ring.
- Knight Rider ep 4.16 "The Redemption of a Champion," in the original series.
- Law & Order: Criminal Intent, episode 7x18, "Ten Count." Logan and Wheeler investigate the death of an amateur boxer, who happens to be the brother of a young man (also a boxer) who Logan used to mentor.
- Leverage - "The Tap-Out Job", where Eliot poses as a MMA fighter as part of the heist, and the plot eventually leads to a (sort of) Forced Prize Fight.
- Life On Mars investigated a boxing crime which led to Gene being implicated as the perpetrator.
- Little Mosque on the Prairie: "Gloves Will Keep Us Together" revolves around a boxing match between Amaar and Rev. Thorne.
- Lois and Clark had "Requiem for a Superhero", which featured the Daily Planet investigating why several boxers appeared to have strength beyond mortal men. They're cyborgs.
- MacGyver, episode 7x10, "Split Decision." Earl Dent, an ex-con from previous episodes, enlists MacGyver's help as a boxing coach so he can get back in the ring and maintain custody of his daughter. (MacGyver, being the good little Technical Pacifist that he is, is deeply unenthusiastic about this, but it is for a good cause.)
- An episode of Martin has the titular character facing off in a charity boxing match with fearsome Lightning Bruiser and former welterweight/middleweight/light heavyweight champion Tommy "The Hitman" Hearns.
- Trapper John (a surgeon!) is the 4077th's boxing champion; he takes on the champ of the 8063rd, a heavyweight enlisted man ("Requiem For A Lightweight").
- Another episode has Frank Burns setting up a boxing match to settle a dispute between Klinger and Sgt. Zale ("End Run").
- The Mighty Boosh episode "Killeroo" has Howard Moon duking it out against a face eating kangaroo. Being an Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist, Howard is thoroughly outclassed, and only prevails when Vince crushes the kangaroo's balls. Also significant in that The Boxing Episode is also The Mighty Boosh' first broadcast episode.
- Mission: Impossible has the "The Contenders" as a set of two episodes. The plot revolves around eliminating a mobsters, and Barney takes the role of a another boxer, having been revealed to have been a successful one before.
- The Monkees: "Monkees in the Ring"
- A Monty Python's Flying Circus sketch had Britsh and Empire heavyweight champion Jack Bodell in a match against Sir Kenneth Clark. Guess who won.
- Part of the Moonlighting episode "Symphony In Knocked Flat", in which they attempt to knock out a punch drunk fighter in his locker room. After they hit him on the head with a weight he suddenly becomes (temporarily) lucid, saying things like "I intend to aggressively attack my opponent at the outset to achieve a sudden victory." Then they hit him again.
- The Murder, She Wrote episode "Death Takes a Dive" in which Jessica's old friend Harry McGraw is implicated in the death of a boxing manager, and manages to talk Jessica into taking over the role while she investigates.
- For a 1890s take, see the third episode of Murdoch Mysteries, "The Knockdown".
- NCIS, episode 6x18, "Knockout." Director Vance uses the NCIS team to investigate the death of a boxer who is an old friend of the director's. We find out that, in his youth, Vance himself was a boxer, and his wife first met him at one of his matches.
- NCIS: Los Angeles, episode 1x19, "Hand-To-Hand." Sam Hanna goes undercover at an MMA gym, and ends up fighting one of the guys there who is actually an undercover LAPD detective: future main character Marty Deeks.
- New Tricks: In "Gloves Off", the gun used to murder a talented young boxer 11 years ago surfaces in an armed robbery and UCOS is drawn into the darker side of professional boxing. Jack, Gerry and (perhaps most surprisingly) Strickland are all revealed to be boxing fans, with Gerry and Strickland having boxed in their younger days.
- NUMB3RS, episode 3x16, "Contenders." One of David's old friends is involved in the death of an MMA fighter (the boxing of the present).
- NYPD Blue a couple of times: Martinez decides to enter the Smoker and gets trained by Lieutenant Fancy (who beats him up pretty good during a friendly sparring match); several seasons later Detective Clark enters it too.
- Oz: Several episodes in series 3 centre around a boxing tournament organised between the various gangs in Oz. Ryan tries to fix the fights so his brother Cyril wins.
- The Pinkertons episode "The Sweet Science" is centered on "pugilism", as it was called in 1865, complete with the male protagonist getting in the ring for the climactic fight.
- The Police Squad! episode "Ring of Fear (A Dangerous Assignment)" plays this for laughs.
- The Power Rangers Zeo episode "Challenges", in which Tommy had to out-box Prince Sprocket's monster Punchabunch at both normal and giant size to free Adam. Tommy had already been established to have boxing skills in the previous seasons, and his special Zord this season was the Red Battlezord, which has boxing-glove fists (and Gatling laser cannons for cuffs, but those aren't used in the boxing match).
- Super Sentai has "hero gets beaten up by boxing monster and must learn boxing" as one of its stock plots.
- An episode of Punky Brewster had boxing champion Marvin Hagler showing Punky how to defend herself after a bully at school beats her up.
- Quantum Leap, "The Right Hand of God": Sam leaps into a boxer "owned" by a sisterhood of nuns. The episode reveals Al as something of a boxing aficionado, but it doesn't do Sam much good since holograms make poor boxing trainers.
- Racket Squad: in 'The Knock-Out' a con game group stages boxing fights that are said to be rigged. During the fight the victim attends, one of the fighters fakes his death in the ring. Then the victim is convinced that going to the police or Boxing Commission will result in everybody being indicted for manslaughter.
- In a Remington Steele episode a baby is found in a boxer's locker and he asks the Steele agency for help. Hijinx ensue as the boxer readies for a match and Remington is revealed to be a very competent boxer.
- The Rockford Files had an episode where Jim and Rocky had invested in some boxer, and there was a fair amount of corruption surrounding his manager.
- Skippy The Bush Kangaroo has an episode where boxers set up a training area in the part. It ends up in showing Skippy wear boxing gloves though she never actually boxes.
- Star Trek: Voyager had a late-season episode, "The Fight", centering around Chakotay's recreational boxing, which apparently was causing brain damage—but actually something else was going on that explained his weird visions and blackouts. Even the writer has no bloody clue what this plot was supposed to be about. Also another episode, "Tsunkatse", where Seven and Tuvok are kidnapped to become gladiators.
- Taxi: Tony is a semi-pro boxer who trains kids at a youth center, so boxing comes up a few times as a main plot.
- A couple of The Three Stooges shorts. One early example is "Punch Drunks", when Curly becomes a boxer because of his Unstoppable Rage when he hears the tune "Pop Goes the Weasel".
- Time Trax featured a temporal fugitive from 3 centuries in the future who uses his superior physical development to win bouts.
- The Twilight Zone TOS episodes "The Big Tall Wish" and "Steel".
- The Wayans Bros..: Marlon is taunted by Hector Macho Camacho who challenges him to a boxing match.
- Wings: "Raging Bull%$%#". Joe signs up for an amateur boxing tournament, expecting to get some revenge on a childhood bully, while Brian signs up as an alternate in case Joe backs out. However, when the other fighter backs out instead, the brothers find themselves pitted against one another.
- "The Set Up", a Vice case in L.A. Noire revolves around an over-the-hill boxer refusing to drop a fight. Cole and Earle then have to hunt him down.
- One of the jobs The Three Stooges can take in the PC/console game is boxing, which functions like the "Punch Drunks" example from above: Larry has to get a radio playing the "Pop Goes the Weasel" tune before the fight ends.
- Bully has a boss fight that starts in the boxing ring. Outside the storyline, it's still fun, earns cash, and unlocks a Save Point.
- A common practice in Team Fortress 2 trade servers is for two Heavies to challenge each other to a melee weapon-only 'boxing match', seeing as how all of the Heavy's melee weapons are variations on his fists.
- The Simpsons season eight episode "The Homer They Fall," in which Moe coaches Homer into becoming a boxer after Homer is found to have an anomaly that allows him to take multiple hits without falling.
- On King of the Hill, Luanne takes up boxing to prove to men that she's not a sex object. Unfortunately, the boxing she takes up is foxy boxing and one of George Foreman's daughters challenges her to a real match to prove that she's untalented at the sport. She isn't, but the sheer determination she shows during the match is enough to get the men who were previously harrassing her to start cheering her.
- In Family Guy episode "Baby, You Knock Me Out", Lois becomes a boxer.
- On The Flintstones, Fred takes a challenge to stay one round with the champ for prize money.
- Looney Tunes, "Rabbit Punch": Bugs Bunny has to take on the heavyweight champ after heckling him.
- Also there's "To Duck or Not to Duck": With Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd.
- As well as Country Mouse (1935), When I Yoo Hoo (1936), Porky And Daffy (1938), and Count Me Out (1939).
- Paramount's Modern Madcap stars Jeepers and Creepers had a cartoon called "Busy Buddies," in which Creepers had to make some money to pay an outstanding IRS debt. He unwillingly becomes a boxer offering a $1000 cash prize. Thanks to Jeepers, he wins and pays off his immediate debt (but now he owes for the money he just won).
- In an episode of The Oblongs the mother quits smoking and become an adrenaline junkie. She tries boxing but is so vicious and dangerous she keeps moving to deeper and deeper sub-basements pummeling more and more people - including (by mistake) the "simple kid who fills the soda machines".
- There have been a few Disney cartoon shorts about boxing:
- The Mickey Mouse cartoon Mickey's Mechanical Man (1933).
- Two Silly Symphony cartoons: Cock o' the Walk (1935) and Toby Tortoise Returns (1936).
- The Goofy cartoon The Art of Self Defense (1941).
- The Donald Duck cartoon Canvas Back Duck (1953).
- The Total Drama All Stars episode "Suckers Punched".
- A Justice League Unlimited episode sees Wildcat - a former pro boxer who had turned his skills to crimefighting - get involved in an underground fighting circuit out of a need to indulge Blood Knight tendencies, while Black Canary and Green Arrow try to convince him to get out before he seriously hurts someone or vice-versa.
- This is one way Canadian politicians settle their differences between elections.
- As seen in a few above examples, many police departments (at least in North America) include boxing as part of rookie training. The ostensible point of which is to get the recruits used to taking a punch. Rare is the officer on regular patrol who doesn't get swung on, eventually.