MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 04: Two-time World Bare-Knuckle Boxing Champion Luke Atkin, age 30 from York (R) is hit by Dom Clark, 35 from Bournemouth during the Rogue Elite world title main event at an Ultimate Bare Knuckle Boxing (UBKB) fight at Bowlers Exhibition Centre on August 4, 2018 in Manchester, England. The first formal bare-knuckle boxing 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. Today the sport remains legal, but with no licensing body in place bare-knuckle in the UK is unregulated. Consisting of three 2-minute rounds or five 2-minute rounds for title fights, though rarely lasting that long, a fight sees boxers punch one another until knockout or until the referee or medic is forced to end it. Bare-knuckle boxing now looks set to shed its underground image and become more mainstream as the sports moves from pubs and car parks to bigger, more established venues. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

The Brutal World of Bare-Knuckle Boxing

A display of pugilism so brutal that the bouts rarely go the distance and the fighters seldom escape without damage, bare-knuckle boxing can be hard to look at. The sport first gained popularity in Britain near the end of the 17th century, but was eventually pushed underground with the introduction of the Queensbury rules in 1867 — the code of rules on which modern boxing is based, under which gloves became mandated in competition. Today, although legal, bare-knuckle boxing remains unregulated due in part to its gruesome nature. Ultimate Bare Knuckle Boxing (UBKB), a UK-based promotion company, is hoping to shed the sport's underground image. Getty Images photographer Jack Taylor spent time in the ring shooting competitors in Manchester, England. Here, through his lens, a look at the sport's painful reality.

WARRINGTON, ENGLAND - JUNE 04: Bare-knuckle boxer Chris Wheeldon, age 36 from Warrington, poses after a training session at Smithys Gym ahead of an Ultimate Bare Knuckle Boxing (UBKB) event on August 4, in Manchester on June 4, 2018 in Warrington, England. The first formal bare-knuckle boxing 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. Today the sport remains legal, but with no licensing body in place bare-knuckle in the UK is unregulated. Consisting of three 2-minute rounds or five 2-minute rounds for title fights, though rarely lasting that long, a fight sees boxers punch one another until knockout or until the referee or medic is forced to end it. Bare-knuckle boxing now looks set to shed its underground image and become more mainstream as the sports moves from pubs and car parks to bigger, more established venues. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images) Jack Taylor/Getty Images SHOW OF HANDS Chris Wheeldon shows the tools of the trade after a training session at Smithys Gym in Manchester, England. WARRINGTON, ENGLAND - JUNE 04: Bare-knuckle boxer Chris Wheeldon, age 36 from Warrington, rests after a training session at Smithys Gym ahead of an Ultimate Bare Knuckle Boxing (UBKB) event on August 4, in Manchester on June 4, 2018 in Warrington, England. The first formal bare-knuckle boxing 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. Today the sport remains legal, but with no licensing body in place bare-knuckle in the UK is unregulated. Consisting of three 2-minute rounds or five 2-minute rounds for title fights, though rarely lasting that long, a fight sees boxers punch one another until knockout or until the referee or medic is forced to end it. Bare-knuckle boxing now looks set to shed its underground image and become more mainstream as the sports moves from pubs and car parks to bigger, more established venues. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images) Jack Taylor/Getty Images TOUGH TASK The 36-year-old Wheeldon rests after training. MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 04: A bare-knuckle boxer has his hands wrapped ahead of an Ultimate Bare Knuckle Boxing (UBKB) fight at Bowlers Exhibition Centre on August 4, 2018 in Manchester, England. The first formal bare-knuckle boxing 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. Today the sport remains legal, but with no licensing body in place bare-knuckle in the UK is unregulated. Consisting of three 2-minute rounds or five 2-minute rounds for title fights, though rarely lasting that long, a fight sees boxers punch one another until knockout or until the referee or medic is forced to end it. Bare-knuckle boxing now looks set to shed its underground image and become more mainstream as the sports moves from pubs and car parks to bigger, more established venues. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images) Jack Taylor/Getty Images BARE ESSENTIALS A fighter gets his hands wrapped pre-fight.

Other Stories For You

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 04: The audience look-on as fighters begin a Ultimate Bare Knuckle Boxing (UBKB) bout at Bowlers Exhibition Centre on August 4, 2018 in Manchester, England. The first formal bare-knuckle boxing 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. Today the sport remains legal, but with no licensing body in place bare-knuckle in the UK is unregulated. Consisting of three 2-minute rounds or five 2-minute rounds for title fights, though rarely lasting that long, a fight sees boxers punch one another until knockout or until the referee or medic is forced to end it. Bare-knuckle boxing now looks set to shed its underground image and become more mainstream as the sports moves from pubs and car parks to bigger, more established venues. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images) Jack Taylor/Getty Images READY TO RUMBLE The sport is trying to shed its underground image of pubs and parking garages by moving to more mainstream and established venues. On this night, the site was Bowlers Exhibition Centre in Stretford, Manchester.
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 04: Bare-knuckle boxer Chris Wheeldon, age 36 from Warrington, poses for a photo before his fight at an Ultimate Bare Knuckle Boxing (UBKB) event at Bowlers Exhibition Centre on August 4, 2018 in Manchester, England. The first formal bare-knuckle boxing 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. Today the sport remains legal, but with no licensing body in place bare-knuckle in the UK is unregulated. Consisting of three 2-minute rounds or five 2-minute rounds for title fights, though rarely lasting that long, a fight sees boxers punch one another until knockout or until the referee or medic is forced to end it. Bare-knuckle boxing now looks set to shed its underground image and become more mainstream as the sports moves from pubs and car parks to bigger, more established venues. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 04: Bare-knuckle boxer Chris Wheeldon, age 36 from Warrington, poses for a photo before his fight at an Ultimate Bare Knuckle Boxing (UBKB) event at Bowlers Exhibition Centre on August 4, 2018 in Manchester, England. The first formal bare-knuckle boxing 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. Today the sport remains legal, but with no licensing body in place bare-knuckle in the UK is unregulated. Consisting of three 2-minute rounds or five 2-minute rounds for title fights, though rarely lasting that long, a fight sees boxers punch one another until knockout or until the referee or medic is forced to end it. Bare-knuckle boxing now looks set to shed its underground image and become more mainstream as the sports moves from pubs and car parks to bigger, more established venues. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
Jack Taylor/Getty Images MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 04: Jay 'BamBam' Eggleston, 35 from Sheffield (L) fights Luke Nevin, 22 from Newcastle (R) during an Ultimate Bare Knuckle Boxing (UBKB) event at Bowlers Exhibition Centre on August 4, 2018 in Manchester, England. The first formal bare-knuckle boxing 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. Today the sport remains legal, but with no licensing body in place bare-knuckle in the UK is unregulated. Consisting of three 2-minute rounds or five 2-minute rounds for title fights, though rarely lasting that long, a fight sees boxers punch one another until knockout or until the referee or medic is forced to end it. Bare-knuckle boxing now looks set to shed its underground image and become more mainstream as the sports moves from pubs and car parks to bigger, more established venues. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images) Jack Taylor/Getty Images UNPROTECTED Jay "BamBam" Eggleston can't avoid a right cross to the head from Luke Nevin. MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 04: Jay 'BamBam' Eggleston, 35 from Sheffield is treated by medical staff during an Ultimate Bare Knuckle Boxing (UBKB) fight at Bowlers Exhibition Centre on August 4, 2018 in Manchester, England. The first formal bare-knuckle boxing 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. Today the sport remains legal, but with no licensing body in place bare-knuckle in the UK is unregulated. Consisting of three 2-minute rounds or five 2-minute rounds for title fights, though rarely lasting that long, a fight sees boxers punch one another until knockout or until the referee or medic is forced to end it. Bare-knuckle boxing now looks set to shed its underground image and become more mainstream as the sports moves from pubs and car parks to bigger, more established venues. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images) Jack Taylor/Getty Images MED CHECK Eggleston is examined mid-fight by medical staff. An Ultimate Bare Knuckle Boxing contest consists of three 2-minute rounds or, in the case of a title fight, five 2-minute rounds, ending with a knockout or until the referee decides to stop it. MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 04: Paul Stredder, 35 from the Wirral looks on bloodied as he fights Brandon Harden, 21 from Edlington during an Ultimate Bare Knuckle Boxing (UBKB) event at Bowlers Exhibition Centre on August 4, 2018 in Manchester, England. The first formal bare-knuckle boxing 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. Today the sport remains legal, but with no licensing body in place bare-knuckle in the UK is unregulated. Consisting of three 2-minute rounds or five 2-minute rounds for title fights, though rarely lasting that long, a fight sees boxers punch one another until knockout or until the referee or medic is forced to end it. Bare-knuckle boxing now looks set to shed its underground image and become more mainstream as the sports moves from pubs and car parks to bigger, more established venues. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images) Jack Taylor/Getty Images DANGEROUS GAME Blood pours from a cut under the left eye of eventual winner Paul Stredder in his bout against Brandon Harden. With no gloves to soften the blows, bouts can be far more bloody than conventional boxing.
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 04: Bare-knuckle boxer Paul Stredder, 35 from the Wirral, poses for a photo before his fight at an Ultimate Bare Knuckle Boxing (UBKB) event at Bowlers Exhibition Centre on August 4, 2018 in Manchester, England. The first formal bare-knuckle boxing 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. Today the sport remains legal, but with no licensing body in place bare-knuckle in the UK is unregulated. Consisting of three 2-minute rounds or five 2-minute rounds for title fights, though rarely lasting that long, a fight sees boxers punch one another until knockout or until the referee or medic is forced to end it. Bare-knuckle boxing now looks set to shed its underground image and become more mainstream as the sports moves from pubs and car parks to bigger, more established venues. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 04: Bare-knuckle boxer Paul Stredder, 35 from the Wirral, poses for a photo after his fight at an Ultimate Bare Knuckle Boxing (UBKB) event at Bowlers Exhibition Centre on August 4, 2018 in Manchester, England. The first formal bare-knuckle boxing 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. Today the sport remains legal, but with no licensing body in place bare-knuckle in the UK is unregulated. Consisting of three 2-minute rounds or five 2-minute rounds for title fights, though rarely lasting that long, a fight sees boxers punch one another until knockout or until the referee or medic is forced to end it. Bare-knuckle boxing now looks set to shed its underground image and become more mainstream as the sports moves from pubs and car parks to bigger, more established venues. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
Jack Taylor/Getty Images MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 04: Two-time World Bare-Knuckle Boxing Champion Luke Atkin, age 30 from York (L) takes on Dom Clark, 35 from Bournemouth for the Rogue Elite world title in the main event at an Ultimate Bare Knuckle Boxing (UBKB) fight at Bowlers Exhibition Centre on August 4, 2018 in Manchester, England. The first formal bare-knuckle boxing 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. Today the sport remains legal, but with no licensing body in place bare-knuckle in the UK is unregulated. Consisting of three 2-minute rounds or five 2-minute rounds for title fights, though rarely lasting that long, a fight sees boxers punch one another until knockout or until the referee or medic is forced to end it. Bare-knuckle boxing now looks set to shed its underground image and become more mainstream as the sports moves from pubs and car parks to bigger, more established venues. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images) Jack Taylor/Getty Images MAIN EVENT Two-time World Bare-Knuckle Boxing champion Luke Atkin lands a straight left to the head of Dom Clark in their Rogue Elite title fight.
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 04: Two-time World Bare-Knuckle Boxing Champion Luke Atkin, age 30 from York (R) takes on Dom Clark, 35 from Bournemouth for the Rogue Elite world title in the main event at an Ultimate Bare Knuckle Boxing (UBKB) fight at Bowlers Exhibition Centre on August 4, 2018 in Manchester, England. The first formal bare-knuckle boxing 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. Today the sport remains legal, but with no licensing body in place bare-knuckle in the UK is unregulated. Consisting of three 2-minute rounds or five 2-minute rounds for title fights, though rarely lasting that long, a fight sees boxers punch one another until knockout or until the referee or medic is forced to end it. Bare-knuckle boxing now looks set to shed its underground image and become more mainstream as the sports moves from pubs and car parks to bigger, more established venues. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 04: Two-time World Bare-Knuckle Boxing Champion Luke Atkin, age 30 from York, is inspected by medical staff after his fight with Dom Clark during the Rogue Elite world title main event at an Ultimate Bare Knuckle Boxing (UBKB) fight at Bowlers Exhibition Centre on August 4, 2018 in Manchester, England. The first formal bare-knuckle boxing 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. Today the sport remains legal, but with no licensing body in place bare-knuckle in the UK is unregulated. Consisting of three 2-minute rounds or five 2-minute rounds for title fights, though rarely lasting that long, a fight sees boxers punch one another until knockout or until the referee or medic is forced to end it. Bare-knuckle boxing now looks set to shed its underground image and become more mainstream as the sports moves from pubs and car parks to bigger, more established venues. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
Jack Taylor/Getty Images MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 04: Dom Clark, 35 from Bournemouth celebrates his win against two-time World Bare-Knuckle Boxing Champion Luke Atkin, age 30 from York during the Rogue Elite world title main event at an Ultimate Bare Knuckle Boxing (UBKB) fight at Bowlers Exhibition Centre on August 4, 2018 in Manchester, England. The first formal bare-knuckle boxing 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. Today the sport remains legal, but with no licensing body in place bare-knuckle in the UK is unregulated. Consisting of three 2-minute rounds or five 2-minute rounds for title fights, though rarely lasting that long, a fight sees boxers punch one another until knockout or until the referee or medic is forced to end it. Bare-knuckle boxing now looks set to shed its underground image and become more mainstream as the sports moves from pubs and car parks to bigger, more established venues. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images) Jack Taylor/Getty Images AND NEW! Clark celebrates his win over Atkin to become the new Rogue Elite world champion. MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 04: Bare-Knuckle Boxier Luke Atkin, age 30 from York, is supported by his partner as he makes his way backstage after losing his Rogue Elite world title fight with Dom Clark during an Ultimate Bare Knuckle Boxing (UBKB) event at Bowlers Exhibition Centre on August 4, 2018 in Manchester, England. The first formal bare-knuckle boxing 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. Today the sport remains legal, but with no licensing body in place bare-knuckle in the UK is unregulated. Consisting of three 2-minute rounds or five 2-minute rounds for title fights, though rarely lasting that long, a fight sees boxers punch one another until knockout or until the referee or medic is forced to end it. Bare-knuckle boxing now looks set to shed its underground image and become more mainstream as the sports moves from pubs and car parks to bigger, more established venues. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images) Jack Taylor/Getty Images ROUGH ENDING A defeated Atkin makes his way to the dressing room after his losing effort.

More Brutal Sports Stories From FOTO



For more FOTO stories directly in your inbox, sign up for our free weekly newsletter.