Former Rolling Stone editor Stayton Bonner ventures inside America’s secret illegal underground fight world – and meets its modern-day gladiators.
Just when you think you’ve heard all the grizzled-fighter-taking-one-last-swing-at-redemption stories, along comes Bobby Gunn – the first bare-knuckle boxing champion in the U.S. in more than 120 years. Undefeated through 71 fights, Gunn, 42, rules the circuit, an underground network of pro boxers, mixed martial arts fighters and street brawlers who enter the ring without gloves in empty warehouses and mobster McMansions for as much as $50,000 a night. It’s dangerous and bloody and illegal almost everywhere – a secret world run by organized crime. And for Gunn, a devout Christian journeyman boxer using the prize money to put his seven-year-old daughter through private school, it’s his only shot at a better life. “Everybody wants to take me down, brother, and make a name for himself,” he says. “I’ve gotta watch my back.”
Bare Knuckle is a fast-paced portrait of today’s illegal underground bare-knuckle world – a Rocky story, only more bizarre, populated by street brawlers, mobsters, and a modern-day gladiator bent on upending America’s first sport.