"Fight a boxer and box a fighter” (or “box a fighter and fight a boxer") is a boxing adage that means a boxing match should be a contrast of styles. The French boxer Georges Carpentier (1894-1975) was matched up against the heavy hitting Jack Dempsey (1895-1983) in July 1921. In October 1920, Carpentier said, “I fight a boxer and I box a fighter.” Dempsey won the fight.
A similar boxing adage is “Styles make fights.”
20 October 1920, The Ledger (Columbus, GA), pg. 10, col. 3:
“My fight always depends upon what the other fellow has or hasn’t. The best way is the effective way. I have no set scheme. I fight a boxer and I box a fighter.”
(Georges Carpentier, a French boxer—ed.)
21 October 1920, Evening World-Herald (Omaha, NE), “Sandy’s Dope,” pg. 17, col. 5:
SPEAKING of Carpentier’s chances against Jack Dempsey, Jack Curley says:
“Carpentier has twenty styles of fighting. He can fight a boxer and box a fighter.”
30 July 1922, Sunday Oregonian (Portland, OR), “Fans Says Leonard Is Losing Steam” by Sparrow McGann, sec. 2, pg. 3, col. 1:
Hammer says that his motto is “Box a fighter and fight a boxer.”
(Ever Hammer, a lightweight boxer—ed.)
27 May 1930, Richmond (VA) Times-Dispatch, “Schmeling Is Changing Tactics To Crowding Style of Fighting” by Benny Leonard (Retired Undefeated Lightweight Champion of the World), pg. 15, col. 4:
The fundamental principle of the game is “fight a boxer and box a fighter.”
Google News Archive
28 May 1934, Saskatoon (Saskatchewan) Star-Phoenix, “Principals In Fight Issue Statements; Everyone Confident” (Canadian Press), pg. 14, col. 7:
Jimmy McLarnin: I am going out to fight from the start. I don’t intend to be outsmarted. The old saying, “fight a boxer, box a fighter,” is all right with me.
Google News Archive
18 March 1978, The Financial Post, “A sensational Canadian export” by Peter Brimelow, pg. 7, col. 1:
He follows the old pugilistic adage: fight a boxer, box a fighter.
28 April 1985, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “Some Hither, Others Yon” by Blackie Sherrod:
Perhaps the oldest and truest boxfight axiom has always been: Fight a boxer and box a fighter. Epitome of this rule was Gene Tunney’s two masterful maneuvers past tough guy Jack Dempsey.
Box a fighter, fight a boxer
Posted on May 16, 2009
“Box a fighter, and fight a boxer.”
This old saying isn’t only limited to boxing – you can use the very same principle in grappling, jiu-jitsu and MMA. In a competition, or a ‘serious’ match you DON’T want to play the other guy’s game. His game is what he’s good at. Your goal, instead, should be to change the rules of the duel.
Very true adage. I love these old saying that still hold true today.
The box a fighter and fight a boxer can be reworded into wrestle a fighter and fight a wrestler.
This saying also reminds me of the old baseball saying, hit’em where they ain’t. Almost a “no really?” saying.