If you hadn’t heard of bare-knuckle boxing until recently, it is because it was only a popular form of sport in the UK and banned in the USA until a game in 2018 revived these fights again. Bare Knuckle Fighting BKC also known as Bare Knuckle Boxing is the original form of boxing that has evolved from some older combat sports. It is a boxing match between two individuals who fight without boxing gloves.
Many people want to know how it is different from modern-day gloved boxing and the differences are many:
1. Might be safer
Although there is no consensus on this, it is widely believed that bare knuckle boxing is the safer version from the trauma and concussions point of view. Since there are no gloves involved, there is a conscious effort not to pull your punches, quite literally. Therefore the possibilities of concussion are still less.
In addition, boxing without gloves there are higher chances of injuries to knuckles and wrists so it is believed that the career span of a bare knuckle boxer is comparatively lesser. While bare knuckle boxing may be less fatal but overall impart many smaller injuries that make it difficult to sustain in the long run as a career option.
2. BKB has faced many legal stumbles in throughout history
In the UK where bare knuckle boxing is most popular, the sport has never been banned. However, there is no official regulator and is not governed by the British Boxing Board of Control either.
In London’s O2 Arena, there were 14 fights in 2017 amid more than 2000 spectators.
This was the first time that such a prestigious venue staged the sport. There is much speculation that it will soon be governed by a regulator. Boxing was in fact originally performed without gloves in the UK but in 1892, gloves were introduced to make it less bloody.
Bare knuckle fights stayed legal but without a governing body to regulate the performing groups. As a result, many BKC clubs exist but without licenses.
In the US, things are trickier. Bare-knuckle fighting was never legal owing to federal and state laws in the US. That is until Wyoming legalized the fights on March 20, 2018. Since then New Hampshire and Mississippi have also legalized the sport and many others are expected to follow suit.
3. Use of gloves versus hand wraps
Bare knuckle boxing prohibits the use of gloves, though boxers wear hand wraps but only to protect the wrist. Knuckles remain bare.
In gloved boxing, the goal of gloves is to protect the boxer’s hand and not the opponent’s head, as the prevalent concept prevails. However, this allows the boxers to throw powerful punches as they need not worry about hand injuries.
As a result, the damage to the head is higher. This leads to more injuries for professional boxers who suffer from more trauma, gradual or instant brain damage as compared to bare knuckle fighters. Professional boxing can lead to fatalities.
Yet, bare knuckle boxing appears to be more uncivilized and dangerous to the general public. It is true that blood knuckle boxing is much bloodier and can create quite a mess.
Another difference is that bare knuckle boxing as a sport is much slower. The fighting is more tactical and boxers are cautious. As there are no breaks in between the rounds, boxers need to maintain the energy and stamina for these long fights.
4. Rules of the game
While the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship BKFC in the US has its own set of rules and regulations, the unregulated sport practiced the world over has a general set of guidelines. However, many rules vary from club to club and often agreed between organizers and fighters.
There are no gloves used but bandaging of the hands is allowed. Bandaging styles may vary.
In many cases, clubs use bales of straw for the ring and they determine the size.
Fights are normally shorter in duration with a mutually agreed upon number.
The older bare knuckle boxing fights were much longer in duration and it is a wonder the fighters lasted as long as they did.
Modern bouts are quite different from both traditional bare knuckle boxing and gloved boxing. One of the key differences is 18-second count on a knockdown and fights comprising of 3x2 minute rounds.
As the modern form of bare-knuckle boxing gains prominence, more countries have begun to sanction and regulate these fights. Betting on bare knuckle boxing has also gained popularity with many online sites offering these services.