SHARE: There is nothing noble about a 'king hit'.

Daniel Christie, the most recent victim of a ‘King hit’

If you’re like me, you’ve had a gutful of innocent people being ‘king hit’.

In fact, Professor Gordian Fulde, Director of Emergency at Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital, was quoted in The Sydney Morning Herald as saying that on some nights at least twice an hour they treat a patient who’s been knocked unconscious.

Perhaps most disturbing is the common theme of victims having no idea that a punch was coming.

These assaults are surprise attacks on the unprepared and vulnerable, including innocent bystanders or passers-by. The assaults achieve the maximum possible injury with the least possible risk to the assailant. In other words, they’re the acts of cowards.

And what have we been calling these vile acts? We call them king hits.

So what’s a king hit? The term generally refers to a single, massive blow, intended to knock someone out quickly so they can’t defend themselves.

They’re usually (but not always) delivered without warning. They’re often done by approaching an unsuspecting victim, with the goal of surprising the target with the most powerful punch they can muster.

Those kinds of attacks don’t sound very kingly to me.

Now, I’ve heard stories about the term king hit originally being derived from an attack on a real king. But does a thug strutting towards some unsuspecting victim care much about linguistic history? Is he even aware of the implications of cowardice? I doubt it. That’s why I prefer the new term, ‘coward punch’.

What can we gain by calling these attacks ‘coward punches’?

For starters, I believe it’s a clearer description of the crime. Some people have to ask what a king hit is, but a coward punch is, well it’s a punch done by a coward.

Secondly, there exists within the immature minds of some young men – thankfully a minority – a belief that their masculinity is somehow enhanced by acts of violence. As though sneaking up behind someone and punching them is supposed to make women swoon. Even thugs want to be cool but if they earn a reputation for ‘coward punches’ instead of ‘king hits’, then their coolness is going to take a battering. Cowardice is the opposite of cool. Doing coward punches does not make you sound like a tough-guy.


Thirdly, I’ve been hearing reports of a fad, where morons earn bragging rights for how many people they can knock down. Sometimes they film the acts on their mobile phones. So I’ll go back to my original assertion, which is that no one will find bragging rights in doing coward punches.

Now, I don’t want to suggest that simply playing with the language is going to bring an end to violence. There are lots of causes of violence, and so dealing with it requires many approaches. But don’t underestimate the power of language either.

Take away the cool factor and you remove a big chunk of the ‘appeal’ for the kinds of idiots carrying out of these assaults.

Shaun McNeil the alleged attacker of Daniel Christie. A King or a Coward?

After 18-year-old Daniel Christie was assaulted in Kings Cross on New Year’s Eve, his parents heard of this expression ‘coward punch’ and asked that it be adopted as the term to replace ‘king hit’.

The NSW government soon jumped on board, putting its support behind the idea. State Police Minister Mike Gallacher, was quoted by the ABC as saying he agreed with the term ‘coward punch’.

‘It’s a coward, gutless punch, and that’s exactly what it’s got to be called from this moment on,’ he said.

He claimed it could help embarrass and shame attackers.

I agree with Mr Gallacher.

I mentioned earlier that that there are lots of causes of violence.

I’d suggest that in places like Kings Cross on a weekend night, there’s a perfect storm of contributors to violence, including a binge-drinking culture, a powerful hotel industry pumping as much alcohol as possible down as many throats as fast and as long and as late as possible, steroid-fuelled narcissism and body building, the bright lights of Kings Cross attracting large numbers of revellers, combined with the dysfunctional belief among some young men with zero anger-management skills that knocking someone unconscious is somehow a manly, justified and cool thing to do.

We can’t fix all of those issues just with a change of term. I sure wish we could but that’s just not going to happen. But I’d damned well like to finally put an end to that perception of ‘cool’.

Mark David used to be a cartoonist and lived in Sydney, but now he lives in south-east Queensland. He runs a nature and photography website teaching beginners how to make sense of their complicated SLR cameras. Visit his website here.

Do you think king hitting should be referred to as a cowardly punch?