To most people, the concept of bare-knuckle boxing paints a split picture in their minds. On one side of the coin, this sport is the ultimate example of masculinity, bravery and strength – on the other, it’s a crude and idiotic symbol of misogyny and machismo, played only by the same people who wouldn’t think twice before glassing a rival on a night out.
Whether you agree with it or not, this sport is the original form of boxing (fisticuffs guys) and has been carried on from generation to generation. Although some underground teams are merely men using basic fighting techniques, in other areas of the country this is a well-run, organised sport with its own rules and regulations. What makes these schools even more passionate is their battle both in and outside of the ring – due to its criminalisation, competitions and practice are bound to garages, alleyways and other rough venues.
Of course there is good reason for its illegality – this is a dangerous, blood-fuelled practice rooted in tradition. But of course, so if UFC. And one particular photographer, Conor Beary, thinks that we could be seeing this sport move out of the car park and into the arena in the near future. This dude managed to meet with Dave Courtney in London – a man who hosts a number of bare knuckle fights in his home. Before long he’d met with James McCory, who became the face of this sport after his winning streak made him the focus of the VICE documentary on this topic. Here you can see his work and the insight it provides on this esoteric sport:
Absolutely incredible and yet awfully brutal all at the same time. Beary brings a certain beauty to the sport through his work – but the content of it shows the violence and ruthless nature of the men who compete. You can see why it is hailed the real life Fight Club.
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