Just when you think you've heard all the grizzled-fighter-taking-one-last-swing-at-redemption stories, along comes Bobby Gunn, the first bare-knuckle boxing champion the U.S. has seen in more than 120 years.
Undefeated in 71 fights, Gunn rules the circuit, a nationwide underground network of pro boxers, mixed martial arts fighters and accomplished street brawlers who enter the ring without gloves for as much as $50,000 cash. It's dangerous and bloody and illegal almost everywhere. And if things go Gunn's way for once in his life, it just could be the next major fight sport to make waves in America.
"Everybody wants to take me down, brother, and make a name for himself," he says. "I've gotta watch my back."
Today, Men's Journal takes you inside the wild world Gunn rules with a heavy fist, and explores his efforts to bring bare-knuckle fighting to the masses. If he can pull it off, he may not only find financial stability, but the recognition that has long eluded him; if he fails, well, it wouldn't be the first time he's been knocked down. In the mean time, he fights on, and Rolling Stone's cameras were there for a recent brawl at an undisclosed location in the Northeast.
The action is real and raw – and the particulars kept to a minimum. Like most things involving Gunn, many of the details are better left unsaid.