Banned In America: A Bare-Knuckle Breakthrough


Article courtesy of Shane Donovan (@ShaneDonovan321) of MMA Freaks.

The greatest trick prizefighting ever pulled was convincing the world bare-knuckle boxing didn’t exist.

Banned since 1889, unsanctioned fisticuffs forged through the 20th century underground and recently has made a breakthrough into the modern 21st century. It was the great prohibition of combat sports for more than a century and happened during our lifetimes. However, now that it’s back, sanctioned fistfights are the hottest thing to hit the sports market since Mayweather vs. McGregor.
Like “they” say, the original is always the best and this is considered to be the oldest form of combat in the modern world. Pioneers of this sport have been pivotal by creating an atmosphere where it could succeed during that great prohibition of combat, such as John L. Sullivan and Bobby Gunn. Sullivan is the historical figure we all have come to associate with the bare-knuckle brawler. He is widely recognized as one of the original and last great bare-knuckle boxers, until now. Gunn, who holds a 72-0 record and also the John L. Sullivan belt, helped legalize an event in America for the first time since sports has been broadcasting in color at Scottsdale, Ariz. in 2011.

“It’s a completely different atmosphere. A bare-knuckle boxer is a certain (type of) fighter,” said Gunn. “I’m excited to see how they will make the transition (into bare-knuckle boxing). I was bred into it through boxing.”

Other fighters previously known from various promotions are expected to compete Saturday night, Aug. 25 at Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship 2 in Biloxi, Miss. on pay-per-view. The bare-knuckle style of fighting is becoming more popular and accepted by each and every event, with an uptick in name recognition as well. Fans get what they pay for and deserve, leaving their seats entertained. Also, fighters are potentially saved from the long-term effects of second-impact syndrome, because that ban had plenty of consequences too.
There was never a single ring fatality during 100 years of bare-knuckle fighting in America, including an epic 75-round affair of John L. Sullivan vs. Jake Kilrain. That final bare-knuckle heavyweight battle was also held in Mississippi, but under the scorching sun on July 8, 1889. Meanwhile, an average of 10 deaths per year has happened in boxing since 1900, according to research accumulated by Hans Forstl, M.D. and his team in Germany. The second-impact syndrome has proven to cause permanent brain damage and death.

It all started with the introduction of boxing gloves. Padded gloves weren’t made to protect the brain, however, gloves were made to protect the hands. During the Roman-Gladiator period, gloves were used to pierce and/or shred through the skin. Intentionally, padded fists are meant to keep fights going on longer and their hands intact to throw harder punches, which causes more concussions. Gunn mentioned how he punches with 80% of his power to the body while using only 40% to the head. This component of fighting has been hidden from mainstream fight fans for decades. SIS, aka second-impact syndrome, has put its footprint on contact sports and what was supposed to be used as protection for athletes has turned into more harmful weapons used against them, ironically.

What else is being hidden from us within a new, yet old concept of combat sports entertainment?

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