With the quite recent advent of bare-knuckle boxing making its resurgence on the world stage. More and more combat sports fans are beginning to show an increased interest in the original, most intense of boxing styles. And with that people are seeking to find out more about the rules behind the sports premier promotion, the bare Knuckle Fighting Championships.
The Bare-knuckle Fighting Championship separates itself from gloved boxing in its use of a circular ring, with a smaller circle at its centre. Fighters begin the bout inside the smaller circle with one foot on a scratch line. Fights last 5 rounds, with each being 2 minutes in length.
This bare-knuckle malarky is really starting to catch on. I say catch on when it’s a sport that actually predates all the other “mainstream” combat sports that we today know and love. And it’s not just fans who are becoming besotted with this latest development. As you comb your way through the list of fighters and advocates. It suddenly jumps out just how many of those involved are current or former mixed martial arts fighters and or boxers.
Many are now in the later years of their careers, still with plenty of fight left and looking for a challenge that gets their blood pumping and bare-knuckle appears to do just that. And BKFC seems to be wasting no time in ramping up the quality of its cards with promise of even bigger names to soon follow.
The Fighting Environment
The ring used for bare-knuckle is unique from the traditional boxing ring we have all come to know. Round in shape and measuring 22 feet at its diameter, the sides of the ring are made of 4 rigid ropes which stretch between 8 padded supporting upright poles. This distinctive design has led to some different dynamics being in play during the fights we have already seen.
Based on the Broughton Rules which hark back to the original 19th-century format. Fighters begin the bout just three feet apart in what is referred to as “Toe the line”. BKFC is very much looking to continue the legacy of the Bare-knuckle boxing which was the precursor to today’s gloved sport. And so draws upon many of the rules and regulations which were dictated by the sport in its original format.
In a sport that has come from the past, only allowing fighters who have competed at a professional level in its ranks. Bare Knuckle Boxing is seeking out all-new levels in pure combat, recalibrated and made digestible for the 21st-century audience. Only holding events which are fully sanctioned by an Athletic Commission in good standing with the ABC (Association and Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports).
The Definitive Bare Knuckle RULESET
The rules of the Bare-knuckle Fighting Championship are as follows:
- Fighters are permitted to wrap and tape the wrist, thumb, and mid-hand. No gauze or tape can be within 1 inch of the knuckles.
- Fighters will “Toe the line”. There are two lines, three feet apart, in the center of the ring where the fighters will start each round. The front foot will be on the line, and the referee will instruct the fighters to “Knuckle up”, this means the beginning of the round/bout.
- Punches are the only strike allowed and must be closed fist (no kicks, elbows, knees or grappling).
- In the clinch, the fighter may punch his way out with the open hand. If there is a three-second lull in action while clinching, the referee will break the fighters.
- If a fighter is knocked down he will have 10 seconds to return to his feet, or the referee will stop the fight. You are NOT permitted to hit a downed fighter. If you do you will be disqualified, and your purse will be withheld. While a fighter is downed, the other fighter will be instructed to report to a neutral space.
- If a fighter is cut and the blood is impairing a fighter’s vision, the referee may call a timeout to give the cutman 30 seconds to stop the bleeding. If the blood cannot be controlled and the blood inhibits the fighter’s vision, the referee will stop the fight and award victory to the other fighter.
- Fights are two minutes per round and each bout will be 5 rounds in length.
- Attire: All fighters must have a groin protector with a cup, a mouthpiece, boxing trunks, and boxing/wrestling shoes.
- All fighters are expected to give 100% effort and behave with complete sportsmanship.
What Next For Bare Knuckle FC?
With its stock increasing, the sport which many thought would never again see the light of day seems to be well and truly on an upward trajectory. As bigger and bigger names look to test themselves in the arena of pure ungloved boxing. Who will be next to step up and step into this most demanding of arenas?
The last sanctioned bare-knuckle event before gloved boxing was brought in may have taken place back in 1889. But it looks as though the next evolution in the style has now well and truly taken shape and captured the minds and hearts of many in the fight world.
And in the twilight of their careers, with so many professional fighters still with that drive to compete. Could bare-knuckle fighting become that next chapter for some of those great warriors, who have provided us with so much entertainment and great memories inside the ring and cage?
Where the sport of mixed martial arts became the home for martial artists who sought a challenge and needed to make a living. Could bare-knuckle become the next iteration in the story of combat sports history? So far to date, based on what we are seeing, all signs point to a positive start for the age-old sport of Kings.
Artem Lobov beat Paulie Malignaggi photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images.