First US State Sanctioned Bare Knuckle Boxing Event Since 1889 Announced

Update – Michael Mazzulli, the Director of the Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation and the current President of the Association of Boxing Commissions has shared the following views about Wyoming legalizing Bare Knuckle Boxing

As president of the ABC, I am not personally in favor of Bare Knuckle Boxing, but if it exists, then surely regulation of it will improve the safety of the promotions and outcomes.  I know a state that allowed three-man mma, many states allow elimination tournament boxing (like Toughman)  and there are all sorts of other varieties.  The ABC was created to prevent exploitation of professional boxers, to establish record-keeping sources, and  to create a system of honoring suspension….The ABC is provided no authority in the US Code to compel Commissions to ONLY allow professional boxing as you and I may think of it…I look forward to seeing what improvements Wyoming will make regarding this type of competition….we are still considering how to reflect their suspensions on the databases.



As discussed last month, Wyoming has just become the first US State to legalize bare knuckle boxing with an overhaul of their regulations to allow the gloveless combat sport.

Promotion was quick to follow with the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship announcing a card taking place at the Cheyenne Ice and Events Center on June 2, 2018.

The quater final round of an eight man tournament is being advertised along with other bouts.’s Marc Raimondi spoke with Wyoming Combat Sports Commission chairman Bryan Pedersen who provided the following views about the safety Bare Knuckle Boxing

We already regulate sanction MMA and kickboxing,” Pedersen said. “And in both of those you can receive a knee to the head, a shin kick to the head and an elbow to the head. That’s all heavy, heavy blunt-force trauma. So hand striking scores far lower than that. I think you’ll see far less concussive blows to fighters and that’ll protect everybody.

While there is little doubt that gloves protect hands of fighters and gloved fights likely lead to fewer broken hands and fewer eye and facial injuries there may be merit to the suggestion that gloveless fighting leads to less brain trauma.  As evidenced by the UFC’s experience knockouts and TKO’s by punches increased 10 fold from the early gloveless days of the promotion to when gloves became a mandatory part of the sport.

Physicist Jason Thalken who has investigated this issue extensively made the following observations about gloves and brain trauma:

Boxing gloves and MMA gloves are effective at absorbing and dispersing the energy of impact, which causes local tissue damage, but we have no reason to believe any gloves reduce momentum transfer.  In fact, thanks to the excellent hand protection gloves provide, fighters are able to punch with greater momentum than they would with bare knuckles, and they are able to attack hard targets like the head more often.  This means gloves do a great job of reducing the types of injuries associated with structural tissue damage (cuts, bruises, swelling, black eyes, and broken bones), but they also lead to an increase in the frequency and intensity of momentum transfer to the brain, which is directly related to diffuse axonal injury and CTE.

Fifty years ago, before we had a firm understanding of CTE, the choice was clear; use padded gloves to prevent injury.  Today we need to think a little harder.  A cut, a broken hand or an eye injury might stop a fight or even end a fighter’s career, but brain injury can take away a fighter’s ability to function as a human being, both in and out of the ring

The ABC is aware of the regulatory developments in Wyoming and advise they will have comment shortly.  I will update this article once the ABC shares their views.


One thought on “First US State Sanctioned Bare Knuckle Boxing Event Since 1889 Announced

  1. As a long-time MMA fan, I just don’t think this is a good idea. A knife fight would involve virtually zero brain trauma. That in and of itself does not make a professional knife fighting league a good idea. That would be savage, disgusting, and would leave the combatants a bloody disfigured mess. It just feels like bare knuckle boxing sits on that line that I don’t feel we as combat sports enthusiasts should cross. Just my opinion.

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