Legal Bare-knuckle Boxing Coming to Florida?

Update April 11, 2016Today it was announced that Gunn’s bout will be at the Miccosukee Resort & Gaming casino in greater Miami.


Update April 6, 2016 – Whatever Commission will be overseeing this event, it will not be the Florida State Boxing Commission who have replied as follows –

Mr. Magraken,

This is in response to your recent article titled, “Legal Bare-knuckle Boxing Coming to Florida?”.

Bare-knuckle fighting is illegal in Florida. As such, the Florida State Boxing Commission will not sanction a bare-knuckle fighting event. Anyone who participates in or organizes such an event is subject to administrative and criminal penalties.

As you may be aware, tribal lands are sovereign territory. A bare-knuckle event occurring on tribal land would fall outside of the Boxing Commission’s jurisdiction.

Thank you for this opportunity to respond.

Paul Waters

Executive Director

Florida State Boxing Commission


Overshadowed by this week’s major combat sports regulatory news, the imminent legalization of Mixed Martial Arts in New York State, is perhaps an equally fascinating development – the potential legalization of bare knuckle  boxing in Florida.

For months bare knuckle boxing champion Bobby Gunn has been suggesting that a US State Athletic Commission was amenable to sanctioning a bare knuckle boxing event.  Today Gunn tweeted a short clip from a press conference indicating that Florida will be the host to the long rumored bare knuckle bout –

In the clip its noted that “On June 11, 2016 we are very pleased to announce that we will be coming out of hiding and we will have the first legal sanctioned bare knuckle boxing match since 2011 in the United States of America in the great State of Florida

The above clip does not make it clear if the Florida State Boxing Commission will be regulating the event or if the sanctioning body will be another entity such as a Tribal Athletic Commission.

I have reached out to both Bobby Gunn and to the Florida State Boxing Commission for comment and will update this article if/when they reply.

While a common initial reaction is to view bare knuckle fighting as perhaps a more barbaric version of combative sport, counter-intuitively removing gloves from the equation likely decreases the rate of traumatic brain injuries sustained by competitors.

As discussed in 2014, when gloves were added to MMA the knockout rate from punches increased tenfold.  Removing gloves from combat sports increases the rate of fractured hands and superficial lacerations to competitors, and perhaps eye injuries, the removal of gloves from the sport can reduce head trauma.  If government and combative sport stakeholders review the rules of the sport with brain injury in mind the data is fairly clear that gloves protect the hands, not the brain.

This is an interesting development that I will continue to keep an eye on and update this article once more regulatory information comes to light.




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