Discover more from Rerun Rewind
Every sitcom has a boxing episode. Prove me wrong.
The boxing episode is one of the most prevalent sitcom tropes. Whether the characters themselves are boxing, they’re attending a boxing match, or they’re trying to watch a bout on TV, every sitcom ever made features at least one boxing-related episode. Here are some examples from some of my favorite sitcoms.
Are You Being Served? - Humphries & Slocombe vs. Franco
In the season seven episode of Are You Being Served?, “The Hero,” Captain Peacock (Frank Thornton) challenges Mr. Franco (professional wrestler Jackie Pallo) to a boxing match after Franco tells the whole store that Peacock has a boil on his ass. Of course, when the time comes to face Franco in the ring, Peacock makes up some excuse about a doctor telling him not to box, and the gang nominates Mr. Humphries (John Inman) to fight in his place.
Unfortunately, Mr. Humphries gets knocked out, despite having spent some time on the wrestling circuit, where he was known as “Hugger Humphries” (“They had to pull me off of people!”). Frustrated by all the “weak as water” men around her, Mrs. Slocombe (Mollie Sugden) jumps into the ring and whoops Franco’s ass.
The Dick Van Dyke Show - Petrie vs. Bailey
In the season five episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show, “Body and Sol,” Rob (Dick Van Dyke) recounts a story of his boxing days in the Army, when he was known as “Pitter Patter Petrie,” the middleweight champion of Camp Crowder. In a flashback, peer pressure makes Rob get into the ring with “Boom Boom Bailey” (Paul Stader), despite Laura’s protests.
After being knocked down twice, Rob staggers around the ring, flailing blindly, until one of his swings hits Boom Boom right in his bad appendix and sends him to the hospital. Unfortunately, Rob lost on a technicality because the appendix is “below the belt.”
Fun Fact: The referee is played by a young Garry Marshall in one of his first acting roles.
The Golden Girls - Pepe vs. Gonzales
In the season four episode of The Golden Girls, “Fiddler on the Ropes,” Sophia (Estelle Getty) invests the gang’s money in a prize fighter named Pepe (Chick Vennera) and expects to make a killing. When the gang meets Pepe, they discover that he’s a talented actor and violinist, and they don’t want him to fight because he could damage his hands. However, if he doesn’t fight, Sophia won’t get the gang’s money back. Blanche (Rue McClanahan) comes up with a compromise, suggesting Pepe take a dive.
During the match, Pepe lets himself get knocked out right away. Later, he gets accepted into an acting school and quits fighting for good.
Sanford and Son - Sanford & Sanford vs. Louis
In the season four episode of Sanford and Son, “Golden Boy,” Fred (Red Foxx) spends all his money to co-sponsor a boxer named “Junior Joe Louis” (Barry Wright), thinking he’ll make a bundle. Unfortunately, Fred talks his way out of Junior’s first big fight by demanding too much from the promoter. Now Fred needs a way to make his money back, so he holds a boxing match at the junkyard and volunteers to fight Junior himself.
To save his dad from getting his ass kicked, Lamont (Demond Wilson) offers to take Fred’s place in the ring. Junior, who’s not the brightest crayon in the box, hits Lamont before the bell rings, instantly knocking him down. Fred gets angry and jumps into the ring, where he tricks Junior by telling him there’s a glazed doughnut on the floor, then knocks him out with one uppercut.
Spin City - Bondek vs. Jones
In the season three episode of Spin City, “Politically Incorrect,” Carter (Michael Boatman) dates an up-and-coming boxer named Bennet (Clayton Prince), who doesn’t want the public to know he’s gay. When Carter accidentally outs Bennet, Mike (Michael J. Fox), holds a meeting at the gym to discuss a way to save Bennet’s career.
Stuart (Alan Ruck), being Stuart, relentlessly taunts Bennet for being a gay boxer, and challenges him to a match, claiming he used to box in college. Of course, Bennet wipes the floor with Stuart, prompting Stuart to say, “You’re not gay.” Bennet replies, “Oh, yes I am,” before kissing Stuart on the head and knocking him out.
Welcome Back, Kotter - Horshack vs. Carvelli
In the season two episode of Welcome Back, Kotter, “Horshack vs. Carvelli,” a big high school boxing match is coming up, and the Sweathogs have to decide which one of them is going to fight “Killer Carvelli” (Charles Fleischer). Horshack (Ron Palillo) is upset because the rest of the gang won’t even consider him as a contender for the match, and they even imply that he’s less of a man than they are. To prove his manhood, Horshack challenges Carvelli, and Carvelli accepts.
Of course, Carvelli knocks Horshack out with one punch, but the other Sweathogs develop a new respect for Horshack because he had the balls to get in the ring.
Wings - Hackett vs. Hackett
The Wings season eight episode, “Raging Bull*&@!,” is an homage to the Robert DeNiro film, Raging Bull, complete with black-and-white scenes and narration. Joe (Tim Daly) signs up for an amateur boxing tournament, and he’s scheduled to fight his old school bully, Mac O’Malley. When O’Malley finds out he’s fighting Joe, he laughs so hard he throws his back out and has to drop out of the match. Brian (Steven Weber), who apparently signed up for the tournament as an alternate, is scheduled to fight Joe in O’Malley’s place. Helen (Crystal Bernard) begs Joe and Brian not to fight each other, but the two brothers get into a heated argument and decide to go through with it.
When they get into the ring, Joe and Brian see flashbacks of each other through the years and remember how much they love each other. Instead of fighting, they spontaneously hug and make up.
The Odd Couple - Unger & Madison vs. McCullough
In the second episode ever of The Odd Couple, Oscar (Jack Klugman) comes home with a black eye and tells Felix (Tony Randall) that he was hit by a hockey player named Splint McCullough (Richard X. Slattery) in a bar. Felix goes to the bar to confront Splint and ends up challenging him to a boxing match.
Just before the fight starts, Felix’s back goes out, but Splint still wants to fight him. Oscar gets between them, and Splint gives him a second black eye.
Car 54 Where Are You? - Antoine vs. Robinson
In the second-to-last episode of Car 54 Where Are You?, “Puncher and Judy,” Toody (Joe E. Ross) and Muldoon (Fred Gwynne), want to convince a hairdresser named Antoine, played by real-life boxer Rocky Graziano, to give up his dream of being a prize fighter because his girlfriend, Judy (Shari Lewis), is afraid he’ll get hurt. They decide to trick him by having him fight Sugar Ray Robinson (himself) disguised as an elderly man. When Sugar Ray knocks out Antoine, Antoine believes he can never be a fighter and quits.
However, Toody and Muldoon soon discover that without boxing as an outlet for his rage, Antoine turns into a total asshole, so they have to convince him to get back into it by revealing that the old man who knocked him out was really a champion fighter.
Just Shoot Me! - Finch vs. Maria
In the season five episode of Just Shoot Me!, “Finch and the Fighter,” Dennis (David Spade) dates a fighter named Kelly “The Big Hurt” Corrigan (Sami Reed), who warns him about her aggressive, jealous ex. Kelly’s ex turns out to be a woman named Maria (Elizabeth Rodriguez), who’s also a fighter, and she challenges Dennis to a fight for Kelly’s honor. Dennis is terrified, but agrees to the fight because Jack (George Segal) tells him that if you stand up to a bully, they’ll back down.
For the first few minutes, Dennis makes a weak effort, expecting Maria to back down, but when Maria questions his manhood, he becomes enraged and knocks her down. He thinks Kelly will be impressed that he beat Maria, but instead, she’s angry, saying, “If I wanted to date a macho jerk, I would’ve stayed with Maria.”