"Everyone has a plan/strategy until they’ve been hit/punched (in the face/mouth)” is a boxing adage meaning that brutal reality can change even the best of prepared plans. A similar saying exists about military planning—“No plan survives contact with the enemy.” The boxing/military saying has also been used in business, government and other fields. “Everyone has a plan until they’ve been hit” has been credited by Wikipedia to the boxer Joe Louis (1914-1981), but there is no documentary evidence that he ever said it.
Brooklyn-born boxer Mike Tyson is most frequently credited with the saying. The Los Angeles (CA) Times reported on August 28, 1987:
“Heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, after challenger Tyrell Biggs told reporters that he has a plan for beating Tyson: ‘Everybody has plans until they get hit for the first time.’”
In October 1987, HBO’s Barry Tompkins quoted Mike Tyson as saying, “They all have a plan...until they get hit.”
Wikipedia: Joe Louis
Joseph Louis Barrow (May 13, 1914 – April 12, 1981), better known as Joe Louis, was an American professional boxer and the World Heavyweight Champion from 1937 to 1949. He is considered to be one of the greatest heavyweights of all time. Nicknamed the Brown Bomber, Louis helped elevate boxing from a nadir in popularity in the post-Jack Dempsey era by establishing a reputation as an honest, hardworking fighter at a time when the sport was dominated by gambling interests. Louis’ championship reign lasted 140 consecutive months, during which he participated in 27 championship fights, 26 championship fights during his reign; the 27th, against Ezzard Charles, was a challenge to Charles’ Heavyweight title and so is not included in Louis’ reign. All in all, Joe was victorious in 25 successful title defenses, a record for the heavyweight division. In 2005, Louis was ranked as the #1 heavyweight of all-time by the International Boxing Research Organization, and was ranked #1 on The Ring‘s list of the 100 Greatest Punchers of All-Time.
In all, Louis made 25 defenses of his Heavyweight title from 1937 to 1948, and was a world champion for 11 years and 10 months. Both are still records in the heavyweight division, the former in any division. His most remarkable record is that he knocked out 23 opponents in 27 title fights, including 5 world champions. In addition to his accomplishments inside the ring, Louis uttered two of boxing’s most famous observations: “He can run, but he can’t hide” and “Everyone has a plan until they’ve been hit.”
Wikiquote: Mike Tyson
“Iron" Mike Tyson (born 1966-06-30 in Brooklyn, New York) is a former American heavyweight boxing champion.
Every fighter’s got a plan until they get hit.
19 August 1987, The News (Frederick, MD), “Biggs Confident He Can Beat Tyson” (AP), pg. D-3, col. 2:
Tyson, 21, scoffed at Biggs’ fight plan.
“Everybody has plans until they get hit for the first time,” he said.
Los Angeles (CA) Times
28 August 1987, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “James Has a Notion Where Blame Belongs,” Sports, pg. 2:
Heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, after challenger Tyrell Biggs told reporters that he has a plan for beating Tyson: “Everybody has plans until they get hit for the first time.”
20 October 1987, Atlanta (GA) Journal-Constitution,"TV-Radio," pg. F2:
HBO’s Barry Tompkins during a discussion with analyst Sugar Ray Leonard on a fight plan for challenging Mike Tyson: “I was talking earlier in the week with him about that and Tyson said, ‘They all have a plan...until they get hit.’”
1 January 1988, The Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA), “Boxing” by Mario Cruz, pg. D2, col. 3:
Quote of the Year. “Everybody has a plan. Until they get hit.”—Mike Tyson
12 September 1988, Computerworld, pg. 23, col. 1:
“Everyone has a plan...until they get hit”
Mike Tyson, Undisputed heavyweight boxing champion of the world
22 July 1989, The Times (Trenton, NJ), pg. C9, col. 5:
Before the bout, Williams talked about how he was going to beat Tyson and take his title away. It sounded nice. But as Tyson said: “Everyone has a plan—until they get hit.”
20 January 1990, New Mexican (Santa Fe, NM), “No bull, Knicks deserve victory” by John Marino, pg. B1, col. 1:
As Tyson himself once said, “Everybody has a game plan until I hit them.”
New York (NY) Daily News
No Doubt, This Is A Tyson Bout And Holyfield Likes Mike In This Match
BY VIC ZIEGEL
Saturday, June 08, 2002
The line would have produced another smirk from Holyfield. “Everybody has a plan until they get hit,” he said.
5 February 2008, Philadelphia (PA) Inquirer, “Giants succeeded where others failed,” pg. E1:
“As Mike Tyson would say, ‘Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.’”
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Just to put planning on a positive side....maybe people that didn’t plan got hit bigger!