On Sunday night, at the MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles, Kanye West announced that he is planning on one day running for president. This article summed up the announcement by saying West will “throw his hat in the ring” in 2020.
I know very little about pop culture or politics, so it should come as no surprise that I was more interested in the wording of the above phrase than anything else. Where did that phrase come from? What hat must one throw and and what ring must one hit in order to become president? Let’s find out in today’s edition of Wonder Why Wednesday…
Origin of the Phrase: Throw Your Hat in the Ring
According to Phrases.org.uk, people have been throwing hats in rings since the early 1800s. Boxing rings, that is.
In old-time boxing rings, onlookers would crowd around the ring to watch the action. Anyone who wanted to be the next one up to box, would take his hat off of his head and physically throw it into the ring. This was the 1800s way of “calling next.”
The earliest use of the phrase is found in the 1805 issue of The Sporting Magazine:
Belcher appeared confident of success [in a boxing match], and threw his hat into the ring, as an act of defiance to his antagonist.”
Theodore Roosevel, an avid boxing fan, was the first to use the phrase in the political context. In 1912, Roosevelt announced his intention to challenge William Howard Taft for the U.S. presidency by saying:
My hat’s in the ring.”