Tuesday, May 22, 2018  |


Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship debuts on June 2


Since 2009, David Feldman has been working on bringing his concept to the execution stage: Bare knuckle fighting. He’s long thought that this old-school style of combat could and should have a place in the combat sports realm today. So he knocked on doors, rang phones, sent emails and politely stalked anyone and everyone he thought could help bring Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship to the finish line.

On June 2, Feldman’s wish comes true; we heard on the Everlast “Talkbox” podcast that the first sanctioned event will unfold in Wyoming, and be broadcast on pay-per-view.

The founder Feldman and fighter Bobby Gunn, purportedly 73-0 on the underground circle and known to pro boxing fans for having fought Tomasz Adamek, James Toney, Glen Johnson and Roy Jones, came to Manhattan and clued us in on what the rules and regulations are, and lobbied us as to why they think this brand of fighting will resonate with the masses.

For starters, Feldman said, they ran a bare knuckle event back in 2011, sort of an outlaw outing, in that it wasn’t sanctioned by a state commission. It was held on an Indian reservation and the response was startling to him. Over a million attempts were made to purchase the card on PPV, on an internet stream. But that system crashed and Team Feldman wasn’t able to collect on purchases. This time, the card will run on PPV, on the usual outlets, so he’s thinking that’s one huge leap forward toward success.

“We’re bringing back the old into the new,” he said. “Just like anything that’s been around awhile, you modify it, and you bring it back into a new perspective.” Feldman grew up in a fighting family; dad Marty fought pro and trained boxers, like Frank “The Animal” Fletcher and Prince Charles Williams. Brother Damon is also a promoter.

At times, Feldman says, “We had eight to 10 fighters living with us in the house,” in Pennsylvania, and he enjoys the memories. “Two guys that lived with us are on death row right now,” he shared.

And yes, BKFC will indeed feature bare knuckles. No gloves allowed. You can wrap your wrist but knuckles are bare. Gunn explained that rather than being more brutal, the lack of padding will mean there will be less sustained pummelings, the sort which most often lead to brain trauma.

The ring is actually a “squared circle,” 22 feet, and the fighters start out toeing a line and start scrapping right away. Clinching will be discouraged, and fights are five, seven and nine rounds, at two minutes each round.

Names you might know taking part include Paul Spadafora, the ex-lightweight titlist, who is 42 year old, and holds a 49-1-1 (with 19 knockouts) pro pugilism record. He’s had missteps in the law-and-order realm and he thinks he can make a late-inning splash in this new endeavor. Also, ex-UFC heavyweight champ Ricco Rodriguez, age 40, an imperfect vessel seeking the maintained willpower to stay on the narrow path of righteousness, will try this new outlet.

Gunn explained further that hand wraps and gloves have fighters seemingly punching with casts on their fists. He doesn’t punch as hard in bare knuckle, throws usually at maybe 50 percent, because he doesn’t have that padding to keep his hands un-injured. The fighter, who told us he comes from Traveller, or “gypsy” stock, said, “We love the Lord, our wives and fighting.”

“Travellers are like pit bull dogs,” he said, and are bred for fighting. Gunn’s a distant cousin to former world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, he shared, and I noted that Fury is superior in the talking realm as much as in the fighting one. “A fight is a fight but you gotta sell yourself,” Gunn said. “I’d rather die on my feet than lay down.” If he fought the Adameks, Toneys, Johnsons and Joneses in bare knuckle, he believes he’d beat them all.

Feldman said he’s been knocking on doors for soooo long. He tried to get UFC boss Dana White involved, and jumped a fence at an event. “You’ll never get it done,” White told him. “See you at the top,” Feldman said.

Twenty-six states told him they would do it but none wanted to be first, Feldman said. “Wyoming is the wild, wild west,” he said, and gives props to its officials for having the courage to jump in.

“I tried to force it on a couple states and then I took a step back,” he said, and realized that his sport will be safer. Football sees helmet-to-helmet contact causing more brain trauma. The padding makes for more repetitive punishment and, in bare knuckle, one blow will render a fighter all done. He’s been able to hone his pitch and more people are seeing this wisdom.

On June 2, there will be 14 fights, 12 on TV and a three-hour window for the PPV. Yes, there will be hitting, tons of it. This won’t be a kind and gentle session. When asked why he was entering, one fighter told Feldman, “I love violence.”

Gunn hopped in and said, “This isn’t barroom brawling.” No one has ever died from bare knuckle boxing, which dates back to the 1800s.

He comes from an underground circuit, and has dealt with surprising turns in fights, like the time he had an underground fight in New York City. “Guy put a hard bite on me, like a vampire,” and said the “fair play fight” went into “rough-and-tumble” mode. Down in the murky fight zone, literally and figuratively shady, Gunn was worried he wouldn’t walk out alive. “I’ve been stabbed, everything you can imagine.” But he walked away, with some moolah and scrubbed the bite with alcohol, living to fight another day.

That’s what this is all about. Certified characters, and some folks who could use a second or third chance in life, will take part. Many will do it because they have a fighting spirit; fighting is in their blood and they can’t quit that addiction. And yes, making money will be a consideration. Our age harkens back to the earlier 1900s, with the haves and have-nots being a gulf apart. People need to feed their families and not everyone invents an app or learns coding. Some people fight to satisfy their desire for combat, and others to raise money for the monthly car payment. Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship is for and about those people, and I appreciate the honesty in acknowledging that reality.

Here is the “Talkbox” archive.

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  • Chris Stans

    It seems like the only thing it’ll have over regular boxing is the amount of blood shed.

    • Turner Wednesday

      And far smaller pay checks, of course.

  • Turner Wednesday

    Can’t see this making a splash in terms of revenue and growth. If it hasn’t taken off by now, it never will. As the world develops and gets more progressive, this kind of sport is going to be harder to launch. Underground it will stay.

    • ceylon mooney

      i think youll have a formalized, profitable network above ground.

    • Julio

      It could be profitable to a degree. Certainly they won’t make anything remotely close to seven figures, but it might be an asylum for old heads like Liddell who I heard wants to return to MMA. He could be a good fit for this.

    • D. Gambino

      If what Feldman is true about a million buyers (I find that suspect) then there is a market for this type of event. If they even get 10% of that – I’d wager that would be a success for them.

  • TNT

    Had Gunn had fought all those guys bare knuckle he’d either be a vegetable or deceased.

  • PrinceGian

    Hand wraps serve mainly to protect the wrists and hands and gloves to minimise damage to the opponents face. Would hate to imagine the injuries and damage these fighters will be carrying around in later life.

    • Julio

      I think the probability of long term brain damage is not as high as you think. Bare knuckle fighting has no history of deaths (or brain damage for what has been documented for that matter) unlike its more refined cousin. Most dudes will not withstand the same amount of punishment you can dish out with gloves with just the bare knuckles.

      • PrinceGian

        Thanks for the reply. What I meant was the damage to their hands and the scars they will be carrying around on their faces. I have seen pictures and videos of some bare knuckle fighters and they are not a pretty sight.

  • Stefano Fazzari

    Never say never; there’s even possible future scenarios where this takes off and fighters can also take PEDs. Everybody and their moma talks about not wanting to see this type of graphic violence. And the very same peps luv to rubberneck on the freeway. Running man here we come

  • chickenstock

    I’d only watch this is the fellas are drunk and its staged in a car park, in the cold, with the girlfriends screaming ‘leave it, Dan, leave it.’

    • Here’s Barley!

      Lol. Leave it out, chickenstock – it ain’t worth it’

  • philoe bedoe

    This is my sort of thing…………..

    • Here’s Barley!

      Me too. And all those posters endlessly dissing BJS and Tyson might more appreciate the defensive skills they showcase – had they ever been punched in the head repeatedly with a bare fist.

      • philoe bedoe


  • Tony Nightstick

    Very good article, I have to say, on what should (but probably won’t) be a trend. A lot of broken noses and the like in bare-knuckle fighting, but not much in the way of brain damage or ring deaths.

    • philoe bedoe

      That’s what you find in bare knuckle fights, not many punches to the side of the head or under the elbows.
      The hands break a lot easier without gloves so you aim for the face……….

      • IanF69

        But by a quick dip of the head the puncher will connect with your forehead and ouch…knuckles crushed…..v dangerous sport and it will be banned eventually.

  • ceylon mooney

    paul spadafora


    • Julio

      Yeah, they are bringing up the cream of the crop to this new venture.

  • Giuseppe

    i tell you one thing that puts me off bare knuckle boxing… the sound. the sound of a bare fist hitting flesh is chilling. a boxing glove sounds kinda cool, and how you think a punch ‘should’ sound, in comparison. So if i were staging this… i’d turn down those ringside mics.

  • AuntieRachel

    Corey Williams made BKB a reality in the US, not Feldman. Feldman is a conniving opportunist with multiple civil suits for screwing other promoters, trademark/copyright infringement, etc., and he took an 80% commission on one boxers pay. It’s disgusting. As far as Paul Spadafora, he’s on parole and can’t leave the state of Pennsylvania. How are you going to put him on a card in WY? This whole article if FAKE NEWS because the source is a delusion sociopath.

  • Bar Kokhba

    Two things stand out to me:

    1) “At times, Feldman says, ‘We had eight to 10 fighters living with us in the house,’…and he enjoys the memories. ‘Two guys that lived with us are on death row right now.'”

    ??? Sounds enjoyable…

    2) “No one has ever died from bare knuckle boxing, which dates back to the 1800s.”

    That’s one hell of a declaration to make without citing a source. Am I to believe that during the height of the bareknuckle era – when hundreds, perhaps thousands of bouts were deliberately held in remote, often seedy locations to avoid the police, with no medical aid on hand, and sporting practitioners who often had no fighting credentials beyond the occasional barroom brawl – there was never a SINGLE death involved? Strains credibility. (And bare-knuckle boxing goes back well beyond the 1800’s; first acknowledged bareknuckle champ was James Figg, in the 1720’s. Though I’m sure it was much safer back then.)

    • Here’s Barley!

      Gypsy’s and travellers the nation over engage in thousands of bare knuckle fights in fields, car prks and on cobblestones. Futhermore, it’s that early grounding in watching/engaging in bare knuckle contests that tends to create such skilfull, technical fighters from gypsy’s and travellers.

      When unprotected bone slams into flesh the damage rendered can be appalling – hence fighters like Billy Joe Saunders, Tyson and Hughie Fury – and hundreds of gypyies in the professional game before them – have already long understood the value of hitting without being hit back too much oneself. Smilarly, when a knock-out results in your head cracking off tarmac or cobblestone, then not taking punches for the fun of it/bravado is drilled into all gypsies when very young indeed. (NB: Take note all those who habitually/ignorantly whine every time one of the Fury’s or BJS fights). Good to talk after so long, Bar.

      • Bar Kokhba

        Hey, I can dig it! I’d follow bareknuckle boxing for sure; I can see where artistry wouldn’t just be an aesthetic preference, but a necessary tool for survival.

        But is this the REAL Barley? You understand there have been scores of impostors…

        • Here’s Barley!

          Lol. Yeah, It’s Barley. I haven’t posted on here – other than the odd once or twice – since February last year after largely by-passing social media whilst living and working with a mate in South London. But – whether for better or worse – it is me.

          Indeed, so many others seem to have vanished in that year – hence I’m just glad the continued presence on this site of yourself, TNT and Philoe mean I don’t feel like the stranger in the room all of a sudden. Kudos pal.

          • John Swan


    • Here’s Barley!

      Agreed. When you go down like this on tarmac/cobblestones then death will always be a constant risk. And many gypsies HAVE died bare-knuckle fighting – many of those deaths going unreported due to the segragation of the communities they come from.https://youtu.be/MZs7uZxk_4w

      • Bar Kokhba

        Damn! Keep your hands up, man!

        What are the rules? Is it all just fisticuffs, or do they do throws as well?

        • Here’s Barley!

          Mostly stand-up – ‘straighteners’ are considered the ‘manly’, honourable way to settle disputes (particularly between families/clans). But you do get ‘all-ins’ in the bare-knuckle world – where biting, eye-gouging, stomping, indeed ANYTHING can and does go down (many traveller fighters are missing part of an earlobe or the tip of a nose). Delicate stuff.

      • philoe bedoe

        Have you seen Elias Smith vs Wayne Mason?
        One of the best Gypsy fights recorded…………

        • Here’s Barley!

          I hadn’t done before. But I have just now you’ve pointed me towards it mate. Thanks. Tasty stuff indeed. https://youtu.be/n2yPbLHbu8M

          • philoe bedoe

            A good scrap, one of the fellas watching FairPlay is former British lightheavy weight, champ Hosea Burton………….

          • Here’s Barley!

            Is it really ? Possibly future British champion too – Hosea should never have lost to Buglioni like that in the 12th round.

          • philoe bedoe

            It was his dad who was seeing FairPlay and Hosea and his brothers filming and the watching………..

  • RingTV

    Not to make light of the men who do this in the real world, but… nostalgia triggered


    • philoe bedoe

      This was one of my best fights ah ah………….

      • Here’s Barley!

        Lol. ‘Right turn Clyde’. The sequel – ‘Every Which Way You Can’ – had even more exciting bare knuckle scenes. Actually preferred both to ‘Rocky’ back then.

        • philoe bedoe

          A big fan myself when I was younger, the end fight with the actor William Smith, was better than the original against Denver Tank Murdoch…………

          • Here’s Barley!

            That’s the one. They met up when training and sort of became friends before the big fight at the end. Geez, those films take me back….


    Floyd should do this. He would K.O. everyone! Floyd is the best there was, the best there is, and the best there ever will be!

  • TNT

    This is how the late Kimbo made a name for himself on YouTube videos.

    • Here’s Barley!

      Sure was a character. I watched his son ‘Little Slice’ on Bellator recently.

  • AuntieRachel

    FAKE NEWS!!! Feldman is a conniving opportunist & has had nothing to do with BKB until COREY WILLIAMS got the sport sanctioned in WY. Weasel Dave just wants to be ‘first’ & he’s listing fighters on his card that have no intention of participating. That is false advertising.