If, like me, you’ve ever taken a blow to a kidney, you’ll know that these are sensitive organs! Kidneys are vital to our health but are also fragile. So, are kidney punches illegal in boxing or are they fair game?
Yes. Kidney punches are illegal in boxing. You are not allowed to target kidneys or punch your opponent in the back. However, it is not always obvious where a punch has landed. So, unless it is clear and deliberate, referees will often ignore a punch that may partially hit the opponent’s kidney.
Are kidney punches illegal in boxing? 🛑
The rules of boxing differ slightly depending on the boxing association, but they all agree that there are certain parts of your opponent that you cannot punch. This includes anywhere below the belt, back of the head, neck, and back.
Kidneys are located in the lower middle of the back, so to hit them directly, a punch would need to target the opponents back, making the punch illegal.
Of course, in the heat of a fight it may be difficult for a referee to determine whether a punch has hit the opponent’s side or back.
Kidneys are located close to where boxers would aim side body shots so punches may partially hit an opponents’ kidney and still be considered legal.
You might wonder what the problem is with punching your opponent in the back. Well, kidneys are vital but fragile organs.
Boxing is dangerous enough as it is without the threat of permanently damaging these crucial body parts that would not only end a boxers career but cause them serious health risks. More on this below.
Despite all the usual pre-fight hype and confrontation, no true boxer wants to inflict any long-term damage on his opponents. There is usually huge amounts of respect between fighters and once the final bell has rung, you wish the best for your opponent.
So, to ensure that permanent damage isn’t done to kidneys, which would be in neither fighter’s interest, aiming punches here is illegal.
Why are kidneys important? ❓
Kidney strikes are singled out as being illegal because the kidney is a vulnerable but vital organ that has a limited capacity to heal. Read more about our kidney’s here.
Minor kidney damage will heal over time, but more serious damage to the microscopic structures vital to kidney function, is permanent.
Kidneys are some of the most important organs in the body. They filter our blood, remove waste, and regulate our body’s fluid levels.
On top of this they release hormones that regulate blood pressure, produce vitamin D that promotes strong, healthy bones, and control the production of red blood cells. In other words, they are very important to our long-term health!
What happens when you get a kidney punch? 🚑
Firstly, it will hurt! The extent of the damage will depend on the power of the punch, but usually a punch will bruise the kidney.
This may cause some internal bleeding in the kidney, which could result in blood in your urine. There will also likely be discoloration of the skin as well as tenderness in the area. Don’t worry, the pain should subside within a few days.
As mentioned above, more serious damage to kidney could be permanent, though, limiting its ability to perform those vital functions.
At worst, a very damaging blow could cause your kidney to rupture. In this instance there would be a serious risk of death without immediate medical assistance.
In this video, George Forman clearly punches his opponent Ladislao Mijangos in his kidney during their bout in 1988. The punch sent Mijangos to the floor but Foreman only got a warning for it at the end of the round.
Mijangos was able to continue the fight, although the ref stopped it in the next round. Thankfully the punch didn’t do any serious damage to Mijangos’ kidney but it sure would have hurt for several days afterwards!
What is the punishment for punching an opponent’s kidney? ❌
As mentioned above, it is very hard to determine whether a punch was deliberately aimed at an opponent’s kidney. And, as the kidneys are located near to the side of the back, it’s hard to tell to what extent the kidney has been hit.
Sometimes, an opponent may turn his body at the last minute, meaning that a punch hits his back. In this case, it wouldn’t be fair to punish the puncher.
Kidney punches can also often happen during clinches when the boxers are so close and have no other part of their opponent that they can aim for.
So, the reality is that kidney punches, both accidental and deliberate, happen quite regularly and are overlooked.
In the rare event that a referee decides a punch was deliberately aimed at a kidney then the referee will either warn the offender, deduct points (the amount depends on the severity of the foul), or disqualify the fighter altogether.
When did kidney punches become illegal in boxing? 📅
Due to all the different historical boxing associations, it isn’t entirely clear. Some archives suggest that New Jersey Boxing commission had banned both the rabbit punch and kidney punch just after Luis Firpo knocked out Joe McCann with a rabbit punch in 1922.
What other punches are illegal in boxing? ✋
- The rabbit punch: a rabbit punch is a punch to the back of the head or back of the neck and is illegal for the risk it poses to a boxer’s spine.
- You cannot strike an opponent with an open glove, backhand, or using a hammer fist.
- Low blow: you cannot punch a boxer anywhere below his belt. For obvious reasons!
- You also cannot throw a punch while holding onto the ropes.
- And, obviously, things like biting, headbutting, using your knee etc are all highly illegal!
12th Round 🔔
Don’t be dick. Don’t try and punch someone in the kidney. You may get away with it during the fight but it’s not worth the risk of doing serious damage to your fellow fighter.
Happy fighting! 🥊🥊
“It’s like someone jammed an electric light bulb in your face, and busted it. I thought half my head was blowed off…When he knocked me down I could have stayed there for three weeks.” – James J Braddock