Rules are funny things. I’ve recently been looking closely at the rules governing boxing matches. Under those rules, there’s a special case carved out for low blows, which are treated more leniently than any other foul. This might be a little inside-baseball, but I think it’s kind of funny.

The Basics

Under the rules of boxing, there are legal and illegal blows. Legal blows include blows to the body and head, while illegal blows, or “fouls”, include blows to the back of the head, kidneys, or anything landing below the navel.

Fouls are divided into intentional and unintentional fouls. Intentional fouls are treated harshly; the infringing fighter will, at a minimum, lose points, and if the fight is stopped as a result of the foul, he can do no better than a technical draw, and may be disqualified outright. Unintentional fouls are treated as accidents; if they cause the fight to be stopped, a decision is (usually) rendered based on the progress of the fight to that point. If the fight can continue, after an optional rest period during which the injured fighter may attempt to recover, it does, with no points deducted from or awarded to either fighter.

Low Blows

For every unintentional foul except an unintentional low blow, the injured fighter may be given up to 5 minutes to recover; if he cannot do so, the fight is decided by the scores of the rounds fought to that point. For an unintentional low blow, however, if the injured fighter cannot continue after a 5 minute rest period, he loses.

I presume this was done because too many fighters were using low blows to force early decisions, but it’s still an amusing exception. Why should one particular foul be treated differently from all others? It’s a reminder that programmers aren’t the only ones who hack special cases into our code.

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