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Dear Mr. Alice:

My friends and I were watching a boxing match the other night and we came to the collective realization that we are all at odds as to the source of that strange Kung Fu-like "wisping" sound that only happens when a boxer throws a punch. I always assumed it was the fighter himself forcefully blowing through his mouthpiece as he swings, like a martial arts yell at the moment of exertion. My friends think that it is either the audio crew heightening the sound of the gloves through the air or that the gloves themselves are letting out air like a cushion as they make contact. Can you clear up this mystery?

-- Doug Morrison, Ocean Beach

Wrapping up our all-mayhem-all-the-time programming this week, we dialed up Antonio "Canvasback" Alice, a cousin of somebody in the family, though he can't remember exactly who anymore. He also can't leave the house these days because he can't remember his address. But ask him a boxing question, ring the bell, and he comes out sparring and wisping. Tony says the sound you hear is the fighter exhaling with the exertion of throwing the punch. Your friends may have taken too many to the gourd; the glove makes no noise in the air and a satisfying splat when it hits flesh. The clever boxer, Tony says, is not above making the noise to psych the judges; throw a three-punch combination but add an extra grunt so maybe it seems like they're delivering more. A technique the elves and I have adapted to great effect in this column, by the way.

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