Last week Stoke-on-Trent hosted Bare Knuckle Boxing for the first time, in front of 1,200 people at Fenton Manor sports complex.
The controversial sport – where two individuals athletes fight without gloves or other padding on their hands – is unregulated but isn’t illegal and is growing in popularity.
The first formal bare-knuckle bout in Britain was recorded in 1681 with the sport popularised by the end of the 17th century. The introduction of gloves into boxing with the Queensberry rules in 1867 eventually pushed bare-knuckle underground.
The event was hosted by Supreme Fighter Colosseum gym and Promoter of the ‘Bad To The Bone’ event and former Professional Boxer Stefan Hanks is frustrated with protesters saying the sport should be banned.
“It is annoying sometimes. To a lot of these people I thinks its rude that they’re not researching, these lads tonight won’t be bare knuckle they’ll have their hands wrapped.
“They’re saying it should be banned but then you’ve got MMA were people are being chocked, being strangled by the windpipe stopping the oxygen to the brain what’s worse than that.
“Or Thai Boxing where you’re being kneed to the face, elbows which are one of the hardest parts of our body being smashed into your skull, that’s going on.
“It’s been proved that gloved fighters are more dangerous because when someone’s got the gloves on, they’re continuously punching someone in the face and it’s not the damage to the face it’s saving the hands is what it’s doing.
“With bare knuckle it’s less shots thrown and because they don’t want to damage their hands there’s not as many punches thrown.”
However, Director of Headway brain injury association, Luke Griggs has an opposite view of the corner and feels all forms of combat sports should be banned.
“Well basically anytime that you strike somebody in the head with any great force you’re running the risk of causing a catastrophic brain injury.
“Either from swelling or bruising or bleeding in the brain that can lead to a long-term neurological disability or in the worst situations actually a fatality.
“It’s that twisting and turning of the brain that causes all the damage and every kind of strike to the brain can cause that damage and it’s an accumulative effect of those repeated blows to the head that can lead people suffering from neurological deficits and brain injuries for the rest of their lives.
“The reality is that all forms of boxing and sports that encourages people to strike each other in the head with great force is not safe so all forms of boxing are inherently dangerous.
“We at Headway feel all forms of boxing should be banned, purely for the inherent dangers and risk of injury to the brain.
“Bare knuckle boxing itself, I think most people would be surprised to know that it actually exists and is allowed to exist.
“The message that I would suggest bare knuckle boxing sends out to people is it almost tries to legitimise this gratuitous violence and suggests it’s okay to punch people in the head, its simply not.
“Putting four posts and a bit of rope around the guys that are doing this does not legitimise it its dangerous and it sends an entirely wrong message.”