With powerful legs, tails and upper bodies, kangaroos are well-equipped for self-defense -- when it comes time to defend himself, a kangaroo puts up his dukes much like a human boxer. His style of fighting is generally characterized as boxing because of the way he punches and jabs at an opponent, but there are no referees here -- he also uses his tail, legs and other natural defense mechanisms to fight off foes.
Boxing in Nature
Because the kangaroo has a strong tail, excellent sense of balance and developed upper body, he's well-suited for boxing. The marsupial swipes at and punches at other animals, notable other kangaroos. Generally, males engage in this type of boxing as a way of determining who "wins" a particular female as a mate. Not restricted to using just their hands, they will also lock arms at points and wrestle back-and-forth while balancing on their tails.
Kangaroos can leap up to 25 feet in a single bound, and they won't hesitate to use that formidable leg strength in a fight. During a "boxing" bout, a kangaroo can actually balance his entire body on his tail, kicking forward with his powerful legs. Because kangaroos can't control their legs independently, this means that anyone on the receiving end of a kangaroo kick is taking two strikes at once.
While humans box wearing padded gloves, kangaroos have an extra advantage in the wild. These animals are equipped with large, sharp claws on their hands and feet, which can do devastating damage to a would-be attacker. Though kangaroos have thick stomach skin that protects them from serious injury during fights with each other, when a kangaroo tangles with another species, such as a dingo or human, a swipe from his claws can be deadly.
The stereotype of the boxing kangaroo has long been perpetuated by humans. For example, during World War II, the boxing kangaroo was an official symbol of the Royal Australian Air Force. While some unwitting humans have attempted to capitalize on this stereotype by actually fighting kangaroos in a boxing ring, this is widely considered to be animal cruelty, and the practice is neither advisable nor socially acceptable.
Tom Ryan is a freelance writer, editor and English tutor. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English writing, and has also worked as an arts and entertainment reporter with "The Pitt News" and a public relations and advertising copywriter with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.