Bare Knuckle is a documentary from VICE magazine about the underground sport of bare knuckle boxing in the UK. Clive Martin interviews and follows various fighters and finds out what drives the men who choose to go toe to toe in the ‘ring’ (actually just a pit encircled by of bales of hay) with no protection other than a referee. What surprises is the differing backgrounds of some of the fighters – we see the build-up to, and actual fight between, a young gypsy and a qualified solicitor twice his age. What seems to unite them all is a sense of something being incomplete – as if they find solace for their troubles in the blood-spattered hay arena.

The focus of this short film is the first transatlantic bare knuckle fight for over a century and a half (since 1863), organised by budding bareknuckle promoter Andy Topliff, who is keen to see the sport brought into the mainstream.

In the finale, we see itinerant challenger Jason ‘Machine Gun’ Young from the US go up against Newcastle’s James ‘Gypsy Boy’ McCrory for the transatlantic bare knuckle belt. The fight footage is excellent, with slow-motion used to devastating effect. A fascinating glimpse into a hidden world.

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