Bare Knuckle

Bare Knuckle

2014, Sports  -   7 Comments
Ratings: 7.80/10 from 87 users.

Common British stereotypes may conjure images of well-mannered chaps sipping tea, but the white linen gloves come off in this expose of the UK's bare knuckle boxing (BKB) culture. Conversations with some of the scene's most venerable fighters reveal the softer side of the people behind a sport with a brutal reputation.

Fighter-turned-promoter Andy Topliffe gives us the rundown on his B-BAD fighting company, a brand that strives to legitimize BKB fighting through organized matches that are kept relatively clean. While socking your opponent unconscious is encouraged, things like dirty moves and gambling won't be tolerated at a B-BAD event. Topliffe is driven by his love of the sport and a desire to see it grow.

We join James "Gypsy Boy" McCrory, a bear of a man and self-described "softie" who loves his mom and cuddling, as he stuffs his face at a diner. McCrory is packing on the pounds in anticipation of an upcoming fight against American competitor Jason Young in what will be the first UK/US BKB match since the late 1800s. As the McCrory/Young match draws nearer McRory shares more about the role of bare knuckle fighting in his life and we meet Young, a boastful man confident he'll level his opponent with ease.

We learn that many bare knucklers have violent backgrounds of street crime and are now reformed, able to focus their violent energy in a controlled manner. One such BKB enthusiast is 46 year-old solicitor Seth Jones, who gave up a life of drug slinging to study law while remaining an active fighter in his spare time.

In an interview with James "Mr. Happy" Lambert, we hear the case for giving up violence completely instead of continuing to vent it in a controlled setting. An undefeated BKB champ, Lambert now refuses to hit anything, not even the punching bag he keeps as a reminder of his past; yet his scrappy, nervous movements betray his undying fighter's instinct, as his friends note when talking about him.

These are just a few of the personalities profiled in this look at the BKB subculture which asks us to consider whether the controlled nature of the violence legitimizes the sport, or if it only serves to perpetuate a level of machismo taken to the extreme.

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5 years ago

More human interest than a doc on the actual sport. Well done, but not what I was hoping for.

7 years ago

My Grandfather was a bare knuckle fighter in U.K. in the late 1800s he was also a carnival fighter and toured U.K. taking on all comers........he was always proud of the fact that his nose was never broken........

Iain White
9 years ago

"Sweet" documentary and great the winner won. Think Roy "Cowboy" Nelson has shown that a rounder than expected fighter can give and take almighty punch though might struggle over longer fights.

9 years ago

I didn't know he was a Gypsy. What kind of fire comes from a fat b*stard like that? He looks like the Pillsbury doe boy, I don't mean that in an insulting way. It's fairly obvious he doesn't look like he has enough muscle to deliver repeated blows of that power, especially to a man in serious shape, taller longer reach, 25-30 pounds heavier, just a guess. Never met a gypsy. Remind me not to pick a fight with one. Obvious comparison would have to be Brad Pitt's tremendous portrayal of a crazy a** gypsy in (Scratch), perfectly done, and hilarious. That guy, like this one was one tough SOB. Knocked his a** out! Amazing, kinda makes ya feel a bit of a p*ssy. "Naaaaaah", Combat is one thing, but choosing to get in the ring with these guys just doesn't seem like a good plan to me. Call me a p*ssy if you want but i'm fine with a doobie, and a good day of surfing. I'll take my chances with the sharks any day.

9 years ago

However, on the other hand I also agree with Mr. Happy. You become what you do - some people can handle it some can not.

Eric Lawson
9 years ago

The Fighting Irish i grew up with it as a young lad!! Good Doc !!!

9 years ago

a pride ,that only few can understand, that defines our soul & is a virtue of ambiguous compassion......a great 'watch', to feel the core of british 'underdog-ism'.