Mixed martial arts developed from boxing. Boxing developed from bare-knuckle boxing. Bare-knuckle boxing is the oldest form of fighting, and the sport attempting a successful comeback in the 21st century.
While bare-knuckle boxing may be one of the oldest sports in history, it is still in the early stages of development as a combative sport and promises to bring new developments as time passes. This fact strengthens the argument that it should be viewed as a nationally accepted sport, as that ability to grow and adapt is essential to all major sports.
Bare-knuckle boxing was strictly practiced underground before its legalization as a combat sport. The sport has still enjoyed a long history, as it was around for a long time, despite not being legalized until this past decade. The main reason for this is that the human desire to see a true fight outweighed the risk of being found by law enforcement during a fighting event.
According to Forbes, history always has a way of repeating itself. Bare-knuckle boxing will look to follow in the footsteps of MMA when they took attention away from boxing in the early 2000s. Similarly, the rough sport also hopes to be the next to grow exponentially in a short time. While competitors in most fighting sports all come from similar backgrounds, bare-knuckle boxing allows anyone to compete and grow regardless of previous training or discipline. This effectively allows boxers a chance to be seen in an entirely different way. Bare-knuckle fighters are not restricted by long-established and iron-scheduled promotional agreements that force them to fight with intervals. This allows fighters to possess the freedom to participate in fights much more frequently if they so choose.
“Professional bare-knuckle fighting was never legal under any federal or state laws in the United States until Wyoming legalized the sport on March 20, 2018. Since then, Mississippi and New Hampshire have followed suit, and five more states are expected to provide legal sanction within the next six months.”
The popularity of the rising sport is directly related to how quickly legalization occurs within each state. When it is legalized across the entire United States it will be much easier for the sport to gain exposure and popularity.
Outside of legalization, there are also a few other factors that can slow the progression of bare-knuckle boxing. Some of the biggest issues are COVID-19, public awareness, and the normal licensing and legal reforms for approval from states for registering the sport as legal. There is also a pending court case involving an alleged business partner of the president of Bare-Knuckle Boxing Championship, which is the professional bare-knuckle boxing company. The man in question is suing the company for 40% ownership, as he believes that was previously agreed upon.
The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected the development of the sport in a variety of ways. First off, the disease drastically hurt the global economy, which in turn makes it tough for a growing business to expand. The second reason that it hurt the sport is how it negatively affected the overall public health. When the pandemic began, many experts were claiming that the world would never be the same, and their predictions look to be correct at this point, although we are seemingly still in the early stages of the virus.
While it may seem like a minuscule risk when compared to the COVID pandemic or lack of general knowledge of the sport, the court case for 40% ownership of the company is potentially disastrous for the industry. The entrepreneurial undertaking of reintroducing the sport has just started to show its first flowers of success, but the pending court case clouds a potential clear outlook going forward. Furthermore, there is a risk of a divide among company owners if the court case gets dragged out longer than it should, which could give the company a bad image right out of the gate.
Public awareness of the sport is growing every day. Bare-Knuckle Fighting Championship’s Facebook page currently has 370K Followers, a surprisingly large number for the relatively unknown sport. As knowledge of the sport continues to grow, the easier it will be to legalize across the country.
DID YOU KNOW?
“Prince Varazdat Arshakuni (Varasdates in Latin), who later became the King of Armenia, was the last known Ancient Olympic champion in the bare-knuckle boxing event. He won the competition at the 291st Olympiad in 360 A.D. A memorial plate, now in display at the Olympic Museum in Olympia, Greece, details his win as the most honored champion of the 291st Olympiad.”