hold the ring

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Probably from "keep the ring" in the early days of ring fighting, when "pugilists" were employed to keep spectators in order.

  • 1828 (October), The Sporting Magazine, page 448: 
    Eight pugilists were engaged specially to keep the ring, and everything went off as it should do.


hold the ring (third-person singular simple present holds the ring, present participle holding the ring, simple past and past participle held the ring)

  1. (UK, idiomatic) To oversee a situation while attempting to remain uninvolved in it.
    Police held the ring during the protests.