''Let's Get Ready To Rumble'' And Sport's Great Catchphrases

Looking back at some of sport's most iconic soundbites
14:35, 22 Nov 2021

Legendary boxing announcer Michael Buffer has been announced by Betfred as a lead figure in their new marketing campaign, bringing one of sport’s greatest voices to our screens. You will have to have been living under a rock to have never heard his infamous “Let’s get ready to rumble” line because it is beautifully timeless.

The witty and infectious phrase was debuted by the 77-year-old back in the 1980s, and his enunciation, voice and tone are what makes the catchphrase so special. As Sugar Ray Leonard once told him: “When you introduce a fighter, it makes him want to fight.”

Sport has always been the perfect platform for individuals to bring words together and make them unforgettable, and Buffer is the best at it. Yet he is not the only one to have a memorable catchphrase in the sporting world, here are just a few other legendary lines.

“And it’s live” – Martin Tyler

The veteran football commentator has had his voice heard for decades and he has detailed some of football’s finest moments, but in terms of recurring lines there is one standout for him and that is when he is covering matches for Sky Sports. It is always the perfect set-up for the big clashes just before kick-off to whet the appetites of the supporters glued to their screens at home.

Martin Tyler
Martin Tyler

When asked about the origin of the line by FourFourTwo in 2010, Tyler answered: “I’ve always had to link to a break and for 15 years or so I tried to come up with something original every time. It was originally more to just emphasise the live-ness of it than to be a catchphrase.”

“Gentlemen, start your engines” – Mary Fendrich Hulman

This is one of the hardest-hitting catchphrases in sport and it captures the moment before a rally brilliantly. Its origin can be traced to 1946 at the Indy 500 when the event was owned by Tony Hulman. His wife, Mary Fendrich Hulman, was the first person to ever echo those words to drivers and did so until her husband’s death in 1977. The legacy is carried on through their daughter Mari Hulman George.

“You cannot be serious” – John McEnroe

The American tennis legend’s famous line was first heard on court at Wimbledon in 1981 as he was on course to his maiden triumph in SW19. He screamed the line at the umpire for ruling a serve to be out in his first-round match against compatriot Tom Gullikson. This outburst is still remembered and watched around the world to this day, and McEnroe can’t go anywhere without it being bellowed at him.

“It ain’t over til it’s over” – Yogi Berra

The late Major League Baseball legend Yogi Berra first uttered these words in 1973, and it is safe to say they have stuck. It was a National League pennant race and Berra’s team, the New York Mets, were a long way behind when he uttered those prophetic words and they rallied to win the division title. The line holds such a position in society that it will likely stand the test of time.

“Unbelievable, Jeff” – Chris Kamara

The former-footballer-turned-pundit has blessed our screens with hilarious goofs and lines over the years, but his most famous is the aforementioned in which he links back to Soccer Saturday presenter Jeff Stelling. Countless people use the phrase in daily life as a nod to ‘Kammy’.

“Squeaky bum time” – Sir Alex Ferguson

The Manchester United legend is the man behind this iconic phrase, dubbed as part of his mind games when he was in charge at Old Trafford and it came into existence in 2003. Not only a legend in the game for his unbelievable (one for you, Kammy) achievements as a manager, but now a wordsmith for blessing the world with this little phrase which is widely used across the game and around the world.

“It’s a funny old game” – Jimmy Greaves

The late goalscoring genius that is Jimmy Greaves dropped this sensationally accurate phrase when he was on ITV alongside Ian St John for Saint and Greavsie. The show ran from 1985 to 1992 on Saturday lunchtimes and drew a huge audience, which is why the catchphrase is still remembered, but mainly because of its wonderful way of summing up football.

“He could go all the way” – Chris Berman

The NFL commentator’s arguably most famous line comes whenever a player is bursting through, seemingly unopposed to score a touchdown. It was a phrase that summarised Berman’s excitement at a darting run and it is so popular in the sport now that people imitate the ESPN legend whenever a similar scenario crops up in a match. But if a player was unsuccessful, Berman would jokingly add, “but he doesn’t.”

“If you smell what the Rock is cooking” – Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson

Arguably the most famous scripted line to come out of WWE saw legendary wrestler-turned-Hollywood-star Dwayne Johnson speak those words in a bid to spice up a fight and excite the crowd. The line itself personifies Johnson’s background and how hard he had to work to become “the most electrifying man in sports entertainment”.

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson

He can run, but he can’t hide - Joe Louis

Incredibly, this popular catchphrase was created in the world of boxing by Joe Louis, the heavyweight champion between 1936 and 1948. Ahead of his 1941 title fight with Billy Conn, it was suggested that Conn, a light-heavyweight champion and therefore the much lighter man, would adopt a ‘hit-and-run’ approach to fighting, to which Louis famously declared, “he can run, but he can’t hide.”

He was right, too. After being behind on the cards to Conn after 12 rounds, Louis knocked him out in the thirteenth.

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