Ever take a sledgehammer to the face? Well, that's probably the closest you can get to bare-knuckle boxing, at least according to the 42-year-old king of the underground sport, Bobby Gunn.
With a 71-0 record and the missing nose cartilage to prove it, Gunn will point out that it's not all about brute force. Bare-knuckle boxing is more of a slow, improvisational tango of hard punches, menacing feints and punishing body shots, all designed to keep your opponent outside of the three-inch window on your face where a single punch can do you in.
Sound like something fans would pay to watch? Gunn thinks so, which is why he wants to take the sport of bare-knuckling fighting out of the underground and into the mainstream. If he succeeds, he may finally find the fortune – and fame – that has eluded him. If he fails, well, this is a guy who knows how to take a punch.
Recently, Gunn took Rolling Stone on the road for a fight – and after dispatching of his opponent, he sat down to talk about his wildest bare-knuckle moments, including one illicit Russian brawl that ended with a gun to his head. So why does the father of two still risk life and limb for this hazy underground ring of peril?
"I'm paving the road for all these fighters out there who are having a hard go in life," he says. "I want them to have a legitimate sanctioned sport where they can make a good living and support their family."
Gunn is clearly a man on a mission. And despite his aspirations to lift up his fellow fighters, he's also all about business – and he makes that very clear by calling out brawler-turned-MMA-fighter Kimbo Slice, who he says has been ducking him for years. Can he make the match happen? He's ready wherever, whenever; after all, that's what it takes to be the king.