Rabbit punch

A rabbit punch is a blow to the back of the head or to the base of the skull.[1] It is considered especially dangerous because it can damage the cervical vertebrae and subsequently the spinal cord, which may lead to serious and irreparable spinal cord injury. A rabbit punch can also detach the victim's brain from the brain stem,[2] which can kill instantly.

The punch's name is derived from the use of the technique by hunters to kill rabbits with a quick, sharp strike to the back of the head.[3]

Combat sportsEdit

The rabbit punch is illegal in boxing,[4] MMA,[5] and other combat sports[6] that involve striking. The only exceptions are no-holds-barred events such as the International Vale Tudo Championship (prior to rule changes in mid-2012).[7] On October 17, 2015, Prichard Colón, a well known boxer, was struck on the back of the head multiple times by his opponent, Terrel Williams by using the rabbit punch. During the match, Colón experienced dizziness as a result of the illegal punches. After the match ended, Colón began to tremble from his legs and started to vomit. He was rushed to the hospital where he was diagnosed with brain bleeding and underwent surgery. He was in a coma for 221 days (7 months, 1 week) until he was transferred to his mother's house. As a result of the injuries he sustained, Colón fell into a persistent vegetative state where he no longer could move or talk. As of July 2021, 6 years after the fight, Colón is doing much better, making more progress and is getting treatment for his condition.[8]

Amateur sportsEdit

On June 29, 2014, soccer referee John Bieniewicz was punched in the neck by Baseel Abdul Amir Saad, an upset player in an amateur match he was officiating in Livonia, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. Bieniewicz died two days later of his injuries, and Saad was charged with second-degree murder.[9] Bieniewicz's autopsy showed that the force of the impact on the left side of his neck just below the base of his skull had resulted in a rare injury with twisted and torn arteries around the base of his skull, knocking him out before he hit the ground. [10] In 2015, Saad pled guilty to manslaughter and received a sentence of 8 to 15 years in prison.[11]


  1. ^ Lee, Matthew. "What Is Rabbit Punching in Boxing?". AZCentral.
  2. ^ "The medical effects of one punch on the human body". www.health.qld.gov.au. Queensland Health. 22 August 2017. Retrieved 24 November 2019.
  3. ^ Langer, Richard. "Extract from "Grow it!"". www.motherearthnews.com. Archived from the original on 2004-05-01.
  4. ^ Brown, Clifton (November 15, 2004). "Lots of Fighting, but Little Resolution for Boxing's Heavyweights". The New York Times.
  5. ^ "NJ State Athletic Control Board – Proposed Rules – Rules Governing Boxing, Extreme Wrestling and Sparring Exhibitions and Performance Bond Procedure". Nj.gov. Retrieved 2013-07-21.
  6. ^ "USMTA Briefing on Muay Thai Rules for Competitive Fighters, 2006 – 2010 Edition" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-05-31.
  7. ^ "Sergio Batarelli's IVC to return – Mixed Martial Arts News". Mixedmartialarts.com. Retrieved 2013-07-21.
  8. ^ McManus, Leigh (August 2021). "Where is Prichard Colon in 2021? Will the former boxer recover?". The Focus. GRV Media Ltd. Archived from the original on 12 September 2021. Retrieved 14 May 2022.
  9. ^ "Man accused of fatally punching Mich. referee due in court". Associated Press. July 30, 2014. Retrieved August 4, 2014.
  10. ^ "Judge: Man should've known punch could kill soccer ref". Detroit Free Press. July 31, 2014. Retrieved November 17, 2014.
  11. ^ "Bassel Saad, Soccer Player, Sentenced in Killing of Referee". NBC Nightly News. NBC News. March 13, 2015. Retrieved 24 December 2018.