A 22-year-old fighter on the rise of bare-knuckle boxing
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22-year-old Ben Shields is hard at work making a name for himself in the world of bareknuckle boxing, a sport that is experiencing an unprecedented period of growth.
Promotional company BKB is taking bareknuckle boxing from strength to strength in Britain and dragging the sport, seen as brutal and archaic by some, into a new light. Recent BKB promotions more closely resemble a traditional boxing or MMA event in appearance than they do the underground bareknuckle fights that occupy the sports past.
As a young and aspirational fighter, Ben spoke to The National Student about the rise of bareknuckle fighting and his career so far…
His aim is fight his way to the top of the bareknuckle circuit, and having started his career with two wins he’s off to a good start.
Ben fell in love with the sport while watching bareknuckle fighting online. He says:
“I loved watching it and I spoke to UBBAD and told them my background and they gave me a chance, so I am very grateful.”
A recent BKB event packed out Coventry’s SkyDome with thousands in attendance, including a legend of British boxing, Frank Bruno.
The future of bareknuckle fighting is an increasingly bright one, and one that will take place in an increasingly public and legitimate sphere.
Ben said the raw appeal of bareknuckle came through the fact that, to an even greater extent than gloved boxing, a fight can spin on a single moment. When “one punch can cut you and end the fight” the stakes are high and Shields argues the moment to moment thrill is greater than that in traditional gloved boxing.
“I came from gloved boxing and thought bareknuckle boxing was more exciting,” he says.
MMA's massive fanbase shows there is a market for the sort of quick knockout action that both sports can offer and BKB welcome fighters from both boxing and MMA backgrounds.
Ben listed Floyd Mayweather and Mike Tyson as his sporting heroes, showing that bareknuckle fighting still draws on traditional boxing (and indeed on MMA) but given the sports recent growth BKB fighters of the future may have their own bareknuckle icons to look up to…