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Why Do Boxers Hug? Clinching In Boxing

You may have witnessed the two boxers clinch, or hug while watching a match. You may have also pondered why they act in this manner. Does it offer them any advantages? Is this a wise move? Look no further, my buddy, as this post will cover all there is to know about the boxing clinch. Why do boxers clinch, then?

A crucial yet annoying component of the "sweet science" that goes into a great bout is the iconic boxing clinch. Casual boxing spectators generally dislike the clinching phase of a fight because it saps the action's adrenaline. Others, however, see clinching as a necessary rest period to stop boxers from slapping one other's skulls into oblivion in the opening moments of the bout.

Whether you love it or hate it, clinching is an essential component of the sport and, when done properly, may alter the course and result of a bout. Even if you don't intend to utilise the clinch, you should learn how to do it as a boxer so you can stop your opponent from utilising it against you.

However, many times during the clinch, fighters will attempt to use dirty boxing, which doesn't get points from the judges but still deals significant damage, to land some strikes on the inside.

Even if the clinch is a forbidden technique, it is crucial to study it after mastering the fundamentals of boxing to understand how it can improve your overall technique.

Boxers clinch or "hug" to slow down the action and avoid being struck in close quarters. Additionally, many boxers clinch to gain a little moment of relaxation during the battle. Boxers use less energy and take a brief break from being hit while in the clinch. Additionally, clinching is an effective strategy to stop an adversary from closing the gap if they attempt to do so.


Suppose a "clinch" – a defensive move in which a boxer wraps their opponent's arms and holds on to create a pause – is broken by the referee. In that case, each fighter must take a full step back before punching again (alternatively, the referee may direct the fighters to "punch out" of the clinch).


No, it is legal to strike anywhere on the body above the belt, arms, neck, or head at the front or side. It is illegal to strike the back. However, some punches are not effective wearing gloves, just as some are inadvisable if not wearing gloves - bare-knuckle and gloved boxing are two different things.


No points are lost in the clinch, but a lack of attack hurts you in the scoring. Clinching is regarded as a natural progression to protect yourself. Boxers are not robots. You can not legislate against clinching in as much as it will stop just because of the rule.


"Why is clinching allowed in boxing?" – Clinching – an efficient boxing defensive technique allows boxers to stop the momentum of their opponents. Before the referee stops the match, clinching allowed for a short period is like an energy-saving defence.


Clinching can effectively disrupt your opponent's rhythm and stop momentum building which forces boxers to reset combinations and offensive moves. Unfortunately, this reset can feel like a state of inactivity, leaving their offensive strategy greatly ineffective.

Clinching In Boxing Explained

One of the most tactical combat sports in the world, boxing offers a variety of manoeuvres and strategies that can be used to your benefit. So, if you're new to the sport, you may be wondering why fighters embrace during a fight.

In boxing, the embrace is known as a clinch. By strategically trapping your opponent's arms under your own, you halt the play and force a break. Boxers frequently squeeze their hands together for a variety of reasons, which can make it appear as though they are hugging.

If you want to become a successful boxer, you must grasp clinching: when to clinch, how to clinch, what to do in a clinch, and how to get out of a clinch. Clinching is a crucial component of your competitive game.

What Even Is The Clinch?

To begin, let's clarify what the clinch actually is. When the two boxers are close enough to wrap their arms around one another, it is called the clinch. Clinching is an effective strategy to escape a strong punch because it puts you just inside a hook's range. Once in the clinch, the boxer either attempts to break free, holds the clinch, or strikes while still in the clinch.

Since a boxer cannot throw, trip, or knee their opponent while in the clinch, unlike in MMA or Muay Thai, it is advantageous to lean on them once they are there.

Why Do Boxers Clinch?

In boxing, clinching is a crucial technique to master and comprehend. Correct usage of the clinching manoeuvre can impact how a bout turns out. The reasons for employing this defensive technique in the ring, though, can vary. Sadly, not all of these are advantageous:

The following justifications for clinching could be mentioned:

  • There will be time for you (injury)
  • Put an attack in its place
  • Alter an adversary's rhythm
  • Last but not least

Why Should You Clinch?

Let's talk about why it is good to clinch. Boxing contests, as you are surely aware, can go for up to 36 minutes in actual flight time. This means that while strength and stamina are crucial, so are strategy and efficiency. One tactic used to conserve energy and recover during a battle is clinching.

The clinch can be used to slow down an opponent's assault in addition to offering a brief window of opportunity for rest. This is advantageous in two circumstances: when an adversary is active and when they hit you hard with a shot.

Clinching for Strategy

When employed properly, the clinch is, first and foremost, a tactical move. It can be employed to slow down an aggressive or offensively inclined opponent and make it tough for them to launch an attack.

This might be frustrating for a fighter who is pinned down in a clinch and is unable to score any hits. Some boxers find the clinch to be mentally and physically taxing and detest it.

When you clinch, you can successfully break your opponent's rhythm and prevent momentum from building, which compels boxers to rethink their attacking combinations. However, this reset might sometimes resemble a state of immobility, rendering their attacking tactic largely useless.

Since aggressive boxers tend to like to hit in a rhythmic manner, using the clinch effectively might deflect heavy blows coming your way. You can defuse a situation and even stop an attack by completing a clinch right before your opponent starts his combination or in the middle of an attack.

Lennox Lewis, Guillermo Rigondeaux, and Floyd Mayweather Jr. all practised the strategic clinch and used it successfully.

How To Clinch?

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As soon as your opponent completes their combination, it would be best if you swiftly close the gap between you by moving with your lead leg. However, always remember to stay vigilant.

Slide your arms over his back as soon as you are close enough for your forearms to touch.

Two techniques exist for performing a clinch:

  • Without letting up their guard, tie your arms around your adversary.

This manoeuvre does not take any initial power to tie your opponent, but because of his persistent inside push with his arms, it is more difficult to maintain the clinch.

  • Put weight on your elbows and forearms to bring your opponent's hands down while you break his guard by pushing your gloves between his arms. You can also wrap your arms around his back.

Gaining an upper strategic position with your arms where your opponent has less leverage and strength to apply from breaking free demands using some initial force in this motion.

You must constantly attempt to put your head on the collarbone of your opponent and press hard enough to maintain that position. You run the risk of accidentally headbutting your opponent or striking them in the face directly from the shoulder if there is even the smallest gap between your head and their shoulders. A cut around the eye or cheekbone with a single strike at such a close range from a strong bone like the human skull is unavoidable.

When Should You Use Clinching in Boxing?

While some fighters only clinch in certain circumstances, the majority of top-level boxers are adept at using the clinch tactically. For instance, if you're battling an aggressive, fast-paced boxer, clinch every time they try to close the distance and begin to flow.

It will enable you to control the match's tempo and force your opponents out of their comfort zone. Floyd Mayweather executed the plan flawlessly.

The clinch should also be used when you have the advantage of height and reach. The only thing your adversary can do is tuck, shoot in, close the distance, and engage in a close-range exchange if you can maintain them at a safe distance from you from which you may inflict damage.

Is Clinching Legal?

The Marquees of Queensberry Rules, a set of generally acknowledged boxing regulations created in the 19th century, state that clinching is prohibited, albeit to what extent it is permitted ultimately relies on the referee.

There is no mention of wrestling or bear hugs in the Marquees of Queensberry rules for boxing. Today, the majority of commissions and sanctioning boxing bodies still adhere to this guideline (with minor changes in the degree).

The amount of clinching a referee permits during a fight varies greatly. For instance, a referee might let you box your way into and out of the clinch, allow you to land some sneaky dirty punches to your opponent's kidneys while they're clinched, or disallow any suggestion that you might tie your arms around them. Unsurprisingly, all of these things could happen in the same fight under the same referee.

As a general rule, the referee will allow the fight to continue as long as at least one boxer is engaged in active work when in a clinch.

How To Clinch Effectively

You want to begin applying the clinch, then. But how can we make the most of it? It would be best if you first went into the clinch, of course. How to time the clinch safely is covered in the following section. Let's focus on what to do when you're in the clinch for the moment.

To Disrupt an Opponent's Rhythm

Some rivals enjoy positioning themselves. Thus, they want the rhythm to carry out their offence and combinations. Clinching can throw off your opponent's rhythm and momentum, making them repeatedly have to restart.

Opponents are returned to a state of inactivity when they have to reset. They repeatedly engage in this behaviour, considerably diminishing the impact of their offence. Because of this, the clinch can be a useful tactical tool.

Try gripping in various positions, such as along the ropes, in the corner, in the middle of the ring, and whether your opponent is attacking or defending, in order to perfect a disruptive clinch. Avoid establishing predictable patterns or habits by mixing things up.

An effective clinch game requires knowing when to use a clinch to disrupt your opponent's thought process.

Keep The Referee From Breaking Your Clinch

In a boxing match, clinching is never permitted for an extended period of time, but you can make it last longer by appearing occupied. The referee is not allowed to intervene if one of the boxers is fighting while having an arm free.

Fighting in a clinch consumes a lot of energy and negates any opportunity for a rest period.

Feed it to your opponent if you're up against someone who likes to tie you up as he clinches you, frees one arm and slams it into his side and liver. Occasionally revert a little and hook the head.

If you want to get dirty about it, the clinch provides a good view of your opponent's kidneys, and you can always throw a few rabbit punches. I caution you against using unlawful methods, but a warning shot can get an excessively dependent foe to back off.

Clinching in a Self-Defense Scenario

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Boxers are permitted to clinch, but one of the main problems with the sport as a means of self-defence is that they rarely engage in it (like Muay Thai fighters or MMA guys). Instead, boxers typically do one of those three things in the clinch:

  • Get double overlooks if you can. (crushing the hands of both of their opponents to stop their punches)
  • Obtaining over-under hooks while awaiting the referee's separation. When you embrace your opponent with your arm beneath his armpit, it's called an underhook. When both boxers have one victory and one undertaking, the outcome is 50/50.
  • Getting a headlock.  A taller fighter can surge forwards and lock his lead arm in a headlock against a more aggressive shorter opponent. That was Volodymyr Kiltscko's prefered method of tying the knot.

While all those clutching techniques work well for blocking blows, the other person can still knee, headbutt, and take you down. For instance, if you take double overlooks in self-defence, the assailant can still headbutt you in the face, grab you by the body, lock his hands, break your posture, and knock you to the ground. This strange lead arm headlock has the same effect.

How Can A Boxer Get Out Of The Clinch?

Breaking out from your opponent's hold could be disastrous if you don't do it correctly. From the proper guard position, your hands are normally dropped and spread apart in the clinch, leaving your face vulnerable.

The first fighter to release his arms from the clinch has the advantage since they can quickly land a full-fledged combo. If the referee won't release you from the boxing clinch and you want to, you can either spin out or shove out.

Refrain from deciding on the spur of the moment to move rearward in a straight line. When you take a step back, any fighter with enough experience will seize the opportunity to land a decisive punch to your chin. Stepping backwards offers the other fighter the room he needs to fully extend his arm and land more potent hits, which is why this happens.

Spinning Out

Choose the side you want to spin out on. Typically, the lead hand is used. So, if you're orthodox, you should grab your opponent's arm directly above the elbow with your left hand or palm. As you step left and around your opponent, control it and shove it over your chest and downward at a 45-degree angle. He is effectively spun away from you by this. Throwing a straight right or left hook now is a great idea.

Unbalance The Opponent And Step Back.

Push your opponent hard on the chest with your forearms and gloves. When off balance, the fighter won't be able to punch you. Stepping aside at this time is the proper move. Make sure your shove is forceful enough to knock your opponent off balance for a moment. You might even find it preferable to utilise the shove as a springboard for a fast jump backwards. As you release the clinch, you must make sure he is not in a position to deliver a jab or any other punch.

This can be done more safely by leaving your lead hand, tying up your opponent's lead arm and starting the shove with your rear hand. Then, as you shove off, you may direct your opponent's lead to ensure a successful and secure break from the clinch.

If a referee breaks you up, simply move back and don't try to sneak in a cheap shot or cheat. However, keep in mind that this is boxing and that there will undoubtedly be many cheap shots, so you must always protect yourself.


The legacy of boxers like Volodymyr Klitschko and Floyd Mayweather Jr. may have been based on hugging fans, according to some boxing enthusiasts. The truth is that while the boxing clinch alone won't give you the win, it can definitely spare you a knockout.

Practice it during your sparring sessions, develop evasion skills, and make it impossible for your adversaries to utilise against you.


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