BOXING HALL of FAME
Fighters, Wild West Gunslingers, Promoters, and Referees are among the Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame Induction Class of 2019
Story and Photos by John and Alex Rinaldi
Throughout the centuries there have been many fighters, scribes, promoters and trainers who have given their heart and soul to the wonderful sport of boxing. Many have gone unnoticed and unrecognized over the years due to petty politics and bias on those on board of some boxing hall of fames. Thankfully, there are those institutions out there like the Florida Boxing Hall of Fame, the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame, the Atlantic City Hall of Fame, the Pennsylvania Hall of Fame, the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame and the Bare Knuckle Hall of Fame where those who plied their trade in the sport of pugilism get their just recognition.The Bare Knuckle Hall of Fame has such a rich history in the sport in that it originated in a structure where the legendary king of the heavyweights John L. Sullivan had to undergo rigorous training to get in shape for the challenge of his life against the feared and mighty American Heavyweight Champion Jake Kilrain (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tcn4Q5xV9k).
Sullivan began training in the winter months under the guidance of William Muldoon, the former undefeated wrestling champion and esteemed fitness expert. Muldoon put Sullivan through the most rigorous and tortuous training of his life in the little hamlet of Belfast, New York. For six months at Muldoon’s barn, the World Heavyweight Champion chopped wood, plowed fields, jumped rope, sparred, wrestled, swam in a river with a raging current, ran/walked nearly 20 miles a day, banged away and a hanging heavy bag, punched away at a speed bag, did endless calisthenics, had daily rubdowns and was repeatedly banged into the stomach by a heavily padded ball invented by Muldoon, called the medicine ball, which is still used in training today.
The work paid off because Sullivan dropped nearly 50 pounds and entered the ring on July 8, 1889 at a makeshift ring on Colonel Charles Rich’s property in Richburg, Mississippi in splendid condition. Kilrain also showed up in terrific physical form and the two battled for 75 rounds under the Bare Knuckle London Prize Rules in temperatures exceeding 100 degrees. Although he was gutsy and willing and gave Sullivan all he could handle in the early going, Kilrain eventually succumbed under the tremendous blows of John L. and was unable to rise and the fight was called off after two hours and 16 minute.
The training quarters of William Muldoon’s farm became legendary after the great battle and even Jake Kilrain trained there in late 1889 for his upcoming about against future heavyweight champion, and the man who would dethrone John L. Sullivan in 1892, James J. Corbett, where he dropped a six-round decision on February 18, 1890 in New Orleans, LA.
As the years progressed, the farm was forgotten for over a century until a visionary by the name of Scott Burt was able to obtain the structure, move it a few blocks away and transform it back into the same condition it was in when such luminaries as John L. Sullivan and Jake Kilrain trained there.
Besides restoring such an historic edifice, Burt came up with the idea of turning the building into the Bare Knuckle Hall of Fame, which honors not only bare knuckle fighters of the days gone by, but current fighters, promoters, referees and announcers that continue in the sport today, along with various boxers and writers who have made significant contributions to the sport. The U.S.A. Boxing News was one such group who were inducted in 2016.
Burt was not just content to be the president of the Bare Knuckle Hall of Fame. He was determined to resurrect the sport back to prominence by working to get the sport of Bare Knuckle Fighting licensed and championship belts awarded by Burt with the Police Gazette Belt.
After some Indian Reservations hosted current Bare Knuckle contests, 28 states turned down sanctioning Bare Knuckle battles until Scott Burt and Promoter Dave Feldman of Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship (https://www.bareknuckle.tv/) got together and promoted the first ever state-sanctioned Bare Knuckle match at the Cheyenne Ice and Events Center, in Cheyenne, Wyoming, before an enthusiastic crowd of 2,000 in attendance. The televised fights were announced by former WBA/WBC/IBO/WBF light heavyweight king Antonio Tarver.
The next state to hop on board was Mississippi, who will be hosting the next Bare Knuckle promotion at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi, MS on Saturday August 10.
So thanks to Scott Burt and Dave Feldman, the sport of Bare Knuckle Boxing appears to be on its way back to prominence.
A huge crowd turned out in Belfast, New York on July 13, which was the 130th Anniversary of the Sullivan-Kilrain battle, to induct another deserving class of individuals into the Bare Knuckle Hall of Fame.
2019’s Pioneer Bare Knuckle inductees were the following:
Jack Havlin (1859-1906), of Boston, MA. Havlin fought from 1884 to 1894 and KO’d Jack Farrell in 7 rounds to capture the first Police Gazette World Featherweight Championship.
Tommy Warren (1865-1904), of Los Angeles, CA. Warren was known as a scrappy, featherweight who carried dynamite in his fists. From 1883 to 1885, Warren was the Featherweight Champion of the Pacific Coast. On December 12, 1887, he fought a 20-round draw against Ike Weir for the Featherweight Championship of the World. After scoring six straight knockouts in 1888, Warren was awarded with the second Police Gazette World Featherweight Championship.
Ike “The Belfast Spider” Weir (1867-1908), of Lurgan, Ireland. Weir began his career on October 5, 1885 when he won an amateur bout in Manchester, England. He soon made a name for himself in the boxing circles as a dangerous man to fight. Because of this, few would venture into the ring with Weir, which forced him to journey to Boston, MA, in 1886. Weir was not known as a big puncher, but was a clever pugilists who used his defensive tools of ducking and rolling away from punches and then pound his adversary with swift and solid counter shots.
On July 20, 1887, Weir and fellow 2019 inductee Jack Havlin fought a 61-round match that began outdoors on 9:30 PM and did not end until 3:00 AM when the referee finally called the match and awarded it a draw.
Weir became the third Police Gazette World Featherweight Champion on March 31, 1880 in Kouts, IN, in an 80-round match with Frank Murphy. Though it was ruled a draw by the referee, since Weir was considered the most aggressive the the two, he walked away with the title belt.
On January 13, 1890, “Torpedo” Billy Murphy KO’d Weir in 14 rounds at the California Athletic Club in San Francisco, CA (a club where future heavyweight king James J. Corbett got his start). Murphy won the title and the purse of $2,250. On November 2, 1893, with no title at stake, Weir KO’d Murphy in four rounds in their rematch.
Following his boxing career, Weir was a horse trainer for the Vanderbilt family.
2019’s Modern Bare Knuckle Inductees included the following:
Bec Rawlings – The First Police Gazette World Featherweight Champion in 129 years and the first female to win the title with the belt ringside.
Arnold Adams – The First Police Gazette American Heavyweight Champion in 136 yeas to win the title belt ringside.
2019’s Pioneer Referee Inducted included the following:
John Fitzpatrick – The referee of the historic 1889 John L. Sullivan-Jake Kilrain Bare Knuckle Heavyweight Championship contest.
William Barclay “Bat” Masterson (1853-1921) – The official time keeper for Jake Kilrain in his battle against John L. Sullivan. Besides being an important boxing journalist, promoter, time keeper and referee of various boxing matches, “Bat” Masterson is most famous as being a frontier lawman, U.S. Army scout, professional gambler and gunfighter in the 19th Century American Old West. The former Dodge City Lawman also worked with Wyatt Earp in Tombstone, Arizona Territory and later with “Buffalo” Bill Cody. Masterson, a close friend of President Theodore Roosevelt, was appointed by Roosevelt as deputy U.S. Marshall for the Southern District of New York. Masterson was a leading authority on boxing and attended nearly every important boxing match and championship bout from 1880 to his death in 1921. Masterson later worked as a columnist and reporter for the New York Morning Telegraph, where he died at his desk a few months after covering the Jack Dempsey vs. Georges Carpentier “Million Dollar Gate” Heavyweight Championship Bout.
2019’s Modern Referee Inductees included the following:
Bill Clancy – Ring referee who recently refereed the Cheyenne, Wyoming Bare Knuckle bouts. “Refereeing Bare Knuckle bouts has been the biggest honor of my refereeing career, period,” said Clancy.
Dan Miragliotta – Ring referee who worked recently on the Cheyenne, Wyoming Bare Knuckle bouts.
Wayne Spinola – A current referee of Boxing and Bare Knuckle contests.
2019 Modern Organizers and Showmen Inductees included the following:
Dave Feldman – The promoter and owner of Bare Knuckle Fighting Championships. Feldman promoted the recent Cheyenne, Wyoming fights and will be also promoting the upcoming Biloxi, MS, Bare Knuckle Fighting promotion. Feldman could wind up being the next Don King as being a pioneer in promoting. “It’s about loyalty, commitment and chasing dreams,” said Feldman at the 2019 BKBHOF Induction Ceremony. “We got turned down by 28 states, but we never gave up and kept going,” Feldman added.
Gary Grant, Jr. – The architect of the modern squared-circle that is used in current Bare Knuckle Fighting contests.
Jeff Houston – The colorful Ring Announcer who does a fabulous job announcing boxing matches, UFC contests and Bare Knuckle Fighting.
The Wyoming State Board of Mixed Martial Arts – Bryan Pederson, Chairman – A credit to the sport that was instrumental in licensing legal Bare Knuckle Fighting promotions.
Mississippi Athletic Commission – Jon Lewis – Chairman – Another brave group who have taken on allowing professional Bare Knuckle Fighting promotions.
2019 Marie Backus Person of the Year Award:
Mort Goldsmith – The caretaker of the modern BKB Fighter’s needs.
2019’s Honorary Inductee:
1980s-1990s Belfast Boxing Club – “Be-Fast Belfast” – This was a gutsy group of fighters who trained in Belfast and made their names as a feared group to reckon with in New York State and the surrounding areas. On hand to accept the induction were former members Bill Hearney, Craig Schul, Paul Staub, Brian France and Heath West.
The 2019 Presidential Award:
Alex and John Rinaldi editors of The U.S.A. Boxing News newspaper and their website www.theusaboxingnews.com – for over 35 years of great contribution to the sport of boxing. The Award was presented to “The Boxing Twins” by BKHOF President Scott Burt.
At the Awards, the talented painter Chris Guzman always unveils a new painting with the year’s inductees on it. The wonderful work of art not only features the inductees, but also features the Muldoon Barn. His fantastic work is on exhibit at the Bare Knuckle Hall of Fame. His artwork alone on display is worth the trek to Belfast, New York.
Afterwards, Scott Burt conducts a personal visit to the Bare Knuckle Hall of Fame in the Muldoon Barn, where he gives an informative narrative of the events that took place while John L. Sullivan trained there in 1889.
Scott Burt has become a giant in the sport of pugilism. Not only did he single handily preserve an historic landmark in boxing with the Muldoon Farm, he organized the esteemed Bare Knuckle Hall of Fame and now is one of the men responsible for bringing Bare Knuckle Boxing back to the limelight where it deserves.
Note: For those who want to support the great sport of Bare Knuckle boxing, own a special-edition Knuckle Head medallion of limited production made exclusively for bare-knuckle boxing fans. Membership to the PIONEER CLUB includes a Certificate of Authenticity; name in the corporate office ledger; serialized medallion; and years of BKHOF Induction Ceremony entry! Visit WWW.PGBELT.COM to purchase.
Keep up with the Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame website at https://www.bareknuckleboxinghalloffame.com/, or follow updates on The U.S.A. Boxing News website on information on various activities concerning the BKHOF and next year’s inductions.
Burt Announces Knuckle Town USA’s 2019 Hall of Fame Class!
February 12, 2019. BELFAST, NEW YORK – Fresh back from Cancun, Mexico, where he and Belfast were center ring giving out the historic Police Gazette Medals in a Bare Knuckle Team Mexico versus Team USA event that received 150,000 buys on World-wide pay-per-view, Scott Burt, President of the World’s Only Bare Knuckle Hall of Fame dedicated to the pioneers of the sweet science, proudly announces his Class of 2019 as listed below. Not only did he give out stunning Police Gazette medals at the end of each of the 12 bouts, but he was also center ring as Bec Rawlings successfully put up and defended her 130 year old Police Gazette Diamond World Belt long under Scott’s care. She did it against very tough Mexican fighter Cecelia Flores. Cecelia suffered a bloodied and broken nose, Bec lost a tooth and spat it out like it was no more than a piece of annoying popcorn husk.
Scott is the only one in the World who can name World Bare Knuckle Champions, as unilaterally given that power by the oldest sanctioning body in the World in 2016, the National Police Gazette. The Gazette first sanctioned in 1881 under Richard K. Fox, publisher. The Cancun fights can still be purchased on Fite.tv.
The quality, legal, bare knuckle event held in Cancun not only featured great fights, but World Champion Antonio Tarver and well-known commentator Sean Wheelock continually plugged Belfast and the July 13th Induction Day throughout the boxing event, promoted by David Feldman. Not only is Antonio a multi-time World Champion, but is also known for playing Mason Dixon in the Rocky movie series, and is a considered a good friend of Scott’s. “The Boxing World is a very, very small community,” states Scott “and they have rapidly embraced our treasure here in Belfast. If fact, they have lovingly coined it Knuckle Town, USA and that’s just awesome. I expect our largest Induction Day yet this year. What and outstanding Class of 2019 we have!” (For ticket info; www.bareknuckleboxnghalloffame.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or text 585-610-3326)
2019 BARE KNUCKLE BOXING HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES:
Fighter Inductees, in order of when title was obtained:
Jack Havlin – 1888 Police Gazette World Featherweight Champion
Tommy Warren – 1888 Police Gazette World Featherweight Champion
Ike Weir – 1888 Police Gazette World Featherweight Champion
Rebecca Rawlings – 2018 Police Gazette World Featherweight Champion
Arnold Adams – 2018 Police Gazette American Heavyweight Champion
John Fitzpatrick – 1889 Sullivan-Kilrain Richburg, Mississippi, Ring Referee
William Barclay ‘Bat’ Masterson – 1889 Sullivan-Kilrain Time Referee for Kilrain
Bill Clancy – Modern BKB Ring Referee
Dan Miragliotta – Modern BKB Ring Referee
Wayne Spinola – Modern BKB Ring Referee
Organizers and Showmen Inductees:
Dave Feldman – Modern BKB Promoter (2018 BKB Promoter of the Year)
Gary Grant – Modern Ring Architect (Builder of the Modern Circled-Square)
Jeff Houston – Modern BKB Announcer
Wyoming State Board of Mixed Martial Arts – Bryan Pedersen, Chairman
Mississippi Athletic Commission – Jon Lewis, Chairman
Belfast Boxing Club Fighters, Trainers, Coaches, and Organizers from the 1980s and 90s
– “Be-Fast Belfast”
Our Marie Backus Person of the Year:
Mort Goldsmith – Caretaker of Fighters
2019 BKBHOF INDUCTION WEEKEND SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
Friday, July 12 (Belfast, New York):
8pm – Beer and Boxing – We’ve reserved the upstairs conference room at the Belfast Hotel to watch some fight videos, highlighted by Billy Backus’s 1970 World Welterweight fight against then Reigning Champion Jose’ Napoles in Syracuse. Billy will be here with us to narrate, comment, and give some behind the scenes stories!
10pm – Ghost Tour of the BKBHOF – Jimmy Holmes, the first person since the Great John L. to sleep overnight in the barns 130 years ago will share some of the spooky experiences he had during the week he stayed there in a flashlight tour of the barns.
Saturday, July 13 (Belfast, New York):
10am – Special Cancellation Stamping of Official 2019 Induction Postcards held at Belfast’s United States Post Office on Main Street.
10:30am – Official Ribbon Cutting of the new Police Gazette Boxing Corporation Executive Offices at 25 Main Street.
11am – Meet & Greet with celebrities and inductees at Family Center; 3 Merton
12noon – Annual BKBHOF Induction Brunch and Awards at the Family Center; $55 each.
2:30pm – Tour of the BKBHOF at 5 West Hughes Street – Scott Burt, HOF President and Historian, takes you on a tour of John L. Sullivan’s original 1889 training barns that now house the World’s only Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame where William Muldoon prepared him for the fight that made him a legend.
Sunday, July 14 (Belmont, New York):
1pm to 6pm – Pollywogg Holler – Join us for a relaxing and truly enjoyable day at Allegany County’s most unique setting, Pollywogg Holler (www.pollywoggholler.com). A five-minute walk through the woods leads to a place truly magical. You can purchase beer, wine, wood-fired pizza and enjoy live music and outdoor dancing. Great fellowship!
The Bare Knuckle Hall of Fame
2018 Induction Weekend
Story by John Rinaldi and Alexander J. Rinaldi
Photographs by Alex Rinaldi
Seven worthy individuals of pugilism were inducted into the historic building where such legends of John L. Sullivan and Jake Kilrain once trained for historic bouts. The Bare Knuckle Hall of Fame is not just a museum, the building itself is a piece of glorious history.The building was the barn of William Muldoon, a Greco-Roman wrestling champion who held the title from 1880 to 1890. Muldoon was the greatest wrestler of all-time and never lost a match.
Although he was a great wrestler, Muldoon established an even bigger place in the history books by training the legendary John L. Sullivan for his bare knuckle superfight against Jake Kilrain in 1889.
Sullivan was woefully out of shape and many believed he would not be able to handle such a magnificent physical specimen and feared heavyweight Jake Kilrain, who was recognized by the Police Gazette as the heavyweight champion, although most of the world considered the colorful Sullivan as the rightful king of the heavyweights.
Muldoon was a no-nonsense trainer who made a deal with Sullivan that if John L. lost, Muldoon would be responsible for all expenses.
The training Sullivan endured was intense and torturous, and it all paid off as he defeated Kilrain on a 75th-round KO in a bare knuckle battle held beneath a burning sun under the London Prize Rules on July 8, 1889 in Richburg, Mississippi.
William Muldoon gained international prominence as a great trainer after his work with Sullivan. It was ironic that the next pugilist who showed up to train with Muldoon was none other than Jake Kilrain, who arrived in Belfast in the winter of that same year to train for a fight against the rising star of boxing, “Gentleman” Jim Corbett.Although Kilrain underwent a punishing training regiment, he was outboxed by the undefeated and swift punching Corbett at the Southern Athletic Center in New Orleans, LA on February 18, 1890 and dropped a six-round decision in a gloved match.
To have such immortals of pugilistic history train in the same building boggles that mind. In 1894 Muldoon moved from Belfast, NY to White Plains, NY and the fabled barn was soon forgotten through the years.
One person who had not forgotten the exploits that took place in the building was Scott R. Burt. A man of vision and a preserver of history, he took ownership of the barn that was on church property and moved it a few blocks to its current location at 5 Hughes Street.
Burt then took on the duties of gathering back many of the training equipment and even some of John L. Sullivan’s articles of clothing that had been scattered in homes, barns and attics in the Belfast area.After assembling such historic items, Burt was only beginning to realize his dream as he turned the barn into The Bare Knuckle Hall of Fame. In front of the building are marble statues of John L. Sullivan and William Muldoon.
The year 2009 saw the first class of inductees into The Bare Knuckle Hall of Fame, which included John L. Sullivan, Jake Kilrain and William Muldoon, along with others such as Jack Broughton, Tom Cribb, Richard K. Fox, George Godfrey, Bill Richmond, Tom Hyer, Paddy Ryan, Carmen Basilio, Bill Heaney, Joe Mesi and Rob Ray.
In 2016, The U.S.A. Boxing News joined James J. Corbett and others into the BKHOF.
2018 was a big year for the BKHOF, as it opened up the Wrestling Wall of Fame on the second floor, where Muldoon trained and wrestled. The second floor also has exercise machines, liniment bottles, a rubdown room and training bars that Sullivan and Kilrain used. There is also a large display detailing the famous Sullivan-Kilrain battle designed and donated by The U.S.A. Boxing News.
In the puzzle that is boxing history, the most important pieces are the fighters, trainers, referees, promoters, announcers, boxing publications and writers. They are the ones that make the sport great and promote the wonderful world of boxing.
The Bare Knuckle Hall of Fame recognizes this and honors such individuals and publications in their yearly induction ceremonies held in the sleepy hamlet of Belfast, New York.
The class of 2018 into The Bare Knuckle Hall of Fame included:
ORIGINAL PIONEER BARE KNUCKLE INDUCTEES
Joe “The Hammer” Lannon – Heavyweight contender and chief sparring partner of John L. Sullivan.
Mike “The Ithaca Giant” Conley – the 1888 Northwest American Champion.
Nat Langham – The 1857 English Middleweight Champion.
Tom Johnson – The Champion of England from 1784-1791.
MODERN HONOREE INDUCTEES
Rick Jeanneret – “The Voice of the Buffalo Sabres” who has called more bare-fisted fights than any man in history.
Tony Gee – Bare Knuckle and Boxing History and World Renown Author.
Dick Topinko – A talented welterweight from Lackawanna, New York. Dick was picked as “Prospect of the Month” by the Ring Magazine in 1970 and later that same year was picked #4 as the top five “Best Prospects in the World” by the publication. Sadly, a shoulder injury forced Topinko to quit boxing in 1971.
Besides the inductees, referee Bill Clancy who has officiated over 900 bouts and 17 World Championship fights, was honored with the Marie Backus Person of the Year Award.
Team USA Sports Jujitsu Team (Bryana Baer, Mike Hanchett, Charlie Love, Desmond White and Coach Barry Broughton) were honored with the Marie Backus Team of the Year Award. The team trained in Belfast and in The Bare Knuckle Hall of Fame for the 2017 World Championships in Australia, which they won! Each member was awarded with a Bare Knuckle Hall of Fame ring and pin.
The Bare Knuckle Hall of Fame Weekend was from July 6 to July 8.
The festivities began at 6:00 PM on Friday, July 6 with the Beer, Wine, Cider 10th Anniversary Tasting Event as Saint Patrick’s Roman Catholic Hall.
Saturday, July 7 was Inductee Day that began at 10:00 AM with a Special Stamping at the Belfast, Post Office. From 11:00 AM and 11:30 AM, there was a Meet & Greet at the Methodist Family Center and then the Brunch and Induction Ceremony continued there from 11:30 AM to 2:00 PM. From 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM, Scott Burt gave a tour of The Bare Knuckle Hall of Fame at 5 Hughes Street.
If one has never visited The Bare Knuckle Hall of Fame, it is worth the journey to upstate New York to view such a fabulous piece of history. Burt takes the visitors back in time as if they climbed into H.G. Wells’ time machine with his tour of the barn. To pick up a piece of equipment that John L. Sullivan actually used in training is astonishing. An interesting part of the tour is a stable room with a bed and old toilet that was used by Sullivan when he would break training and go out drinking. The champion had to spend the night in the barn for punishment, rather than in the comfortable accommodations of the home he resided in during his training camp.
Besides Sullivan’s training equipment, outfits and training gear, there are framed diplays of the inductees, Jake Kilrain’s trunk and silk, along with amazing paintings by the talented artist Chris Guzman. The work of Guzman with his style of colors and design are fascinating works of art to enjoy.
In addition to the statues of Sullivan and Muldoon outside of The Bare Knuckle Hall of Fame, the ring that was used by Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) in “Rocky II” was on display. Besides being used in the memorable 1979 film, it was also employed in past by such boxing legends as Roberto Duran and Ruben Olivares.
Sunday, July 8 featured a Relaxing Day at Pollywogg Holler, which featured a band, beer, wine, soda and wood-cooked pizzas.
Along with the inductees and honorees and their families, former undisputed World Welterweight Champion Billy Backus was on hand, along with the reigning World Heavyweight Bare Knuckle Champion Bobby Gunn. Both men were generous with their time as they happily posed for photos and signed numerous autographs with the fans.
A great thing to witness were the two great-grand sons of Joe Lannon, who came with vintage memorabilia of Lannon, that included an original Police Gazette edition featuring Lannon’s September 17, 1888 KO win over Jim Glynn at the Boston Athletic Center in Boston, MA. The two great-grandsons also had the original Lannon and Fowler fight ticket (costing $2.99 at the time), original boxing cards featuring Lannon and the theater cast ad for “Honest Hearts and Willing Hands” – the play that starred Heavyweight Champion John L. Sullivan in 1891 and 1892, and featured Joe Lannon in the cast. Lannon was cast as a fighter that boxed Sullivan in the popular production.
Lannon was a fearless battler who fought the likes of George Godfrey, Jack Ashton, Jim Glynn, Jack Kelly, Mike Boden, Tommy Kelly, Jim Brady, Gunner White and Jake Kilrain in a career that spanned from 1884 to 1893.
Nat Langham (1820-1871) was the English Bare Knuckle Middleweight Champion from 1843 to 1857 and the only fighter who ever beat the immortal Thomas Sayers. Langham faced the challenger Sayers on October 18, 1854 at Lakenhealth, Suffolk and blinded Sayers with his two-fisted attack to Sayers’ eyes. After two hours and two minutes of savage fighting, Langham KO’d Sayers in the 61st round. Later that year, Nat suffered the only defeat of his career as he was dethroned by Harry Orme in 117 rounds and three hours. Following his pugilistic career, Langham was the matchmaking manager of Jem Mace, who became the first World Boxing Champion.
Tom Johnson (1750-1797) began boxing in 1781. Johnson’s first professional fight was against “The Croydon Drover” in March of 1784, where he pummeled Drover in 27 minutes. Three months later, Johnson was matched with Stephen “Death” Oliver in Blackheath before thousands of fans. Tom finished off Oliver in 35 minutes to capture the Championship of England.
Johnson next defended his laurels against Bill Love on January 13, 1786 and finished off the challenger in 5 minutes, and earned 50 Guineas. The next month Tom defeated Jack Towers. Johnson took on a fighter called Fry on June 6, 1876 and beat up the challenger in 30 minutes.
Mike “The Ithaca Giant” Conley (1860-1920) was born in Towanda, PA, but later moved to Ithaca, New York, where he began his boxing career. Conley’s first bout was a draw against Jack Ashton at the Ithaca Rink, in Ithaca, NY on May 15, 1886. Conley fought from 1886 to 1894 and was one of the most feared heavyweights of his day. Mike defeated such outstanding fighters such as Con Riley, C.F. Fisher, Dick Sullivan, Dave Flaherty, John P. Clow, Bill Gabig, Ed Donaldson, Joe Godfrey, Mike Monoghan, John Wiley, Pat Heeney and John Heenan.
BKBHOF President Scott Burt is an unsung hero in the sport of boxing, especially in memorializing those brave souls who fought during the bare knuckle era under the London Prize Rules. Not only does he honor the past bare knuckle days, but is currently in the process of bringing bare knuckle boxing back to prominence with new champions in the present day.
The Bare Knuckle Hall of Fame and Scott Burt promote the gutsy fighters of the bygone days and gives recognition to a wonderful pugilistic sport.
John L. Sullivan is still a recognized name in the annals of boxing history. For any boxing fan who cherishes the rich history of the sport, there is no better place to visit than The Bare Knuckle Hall of Fame.
For further information go to the official website of The Bare Knuckle Hall of Fame at:
PRESS RELEASE; for immediate release
BELFAST – 90 minutes south of Rochester, in the town of Belfast, lies a building that pulls no punches.
“Welcome to the Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame.”
Retired teacher Scott Burt opened the Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame in 2009 to commemorate a style of fighting that went out of favor over a century ago.
“Bare knuckle boxing was entirely illegal,” “eye gouging, hair pulling,” “alcohol to deaden the pain,” “hit him so hard, he went out of the ring,” “106 rounds to a draw. Can you imagine fighting 106 rounds to a draw?”
It was in these barns in 1889, nearly 130 years ago, that the most famous bare knuckle boxer of all-time John L. Sullivan trained for an 80-round fight with world heavyweight champ Jake Kilrain.
“75 rounds later, 2 hours 16 minutes, outside in 104 degree weather, on a dirt floor with spikes, Sullivan wins. He wins $20,000 and the Police Gazette belt,” said Burt.
The barns were owned by Sullivan’s trainer, William Muldoon, a Belfast native that is credited with inventing the modern medicine ball. Muldoon willed the barns to the town church where they sat mostly untouched.
“It was here for anybody to do for 130 years, it sat here,” said Burt. “People in the town knew about it, but it’s like anything that is in anyone’s backyard. You don’t really appreciate it until someone else tells you it’s good”
With combat sports growing popularity, bare knuckle boxing could become fashionable again. Wyoming recently became the first state to legalize it. Back in Belfast, Scott Burt is honored to maintain this chapter of boxing’s past.
“We all want to do something that will live beyond us and this is kind of my thing,” said Burt. “We get a lot of people that say ‘Oh, I’m not going to come to it because I don’t like boxing.’ That’s not what this is about. It’s about history, and learning about history.”
130 years later, it’s still a knockout.
Tickets for the 2018 induction ceremony on Saturday, July 7th can be obtained at the Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame website.
January 15, 2018 (Contact: Scott Burt 585-610-3326)
Wrestler Hulk Hogan tweets about Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame
Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame Class of 2018 Announced
Belfast, New York – Mark your calendar: The 2018 Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame Induction Day will be Saturday, July 7, BKBHOF President Scott Burt announced today.
“This marks our 10th annual induction,” said Mr. Burt. “We are very excited about our slate of inductees – both the Honorary and the Originals.” One of the highlights of the packed day is the brunch at the United Methodist Family Center that follows the 10am stamping at the US Post Office in Belfast where a special cancellation is revealed to commemorate the day. In addition to inducting the 2018 class into the BKBHOF at the brunch, Burt will present the Marie Backus Person of the Year Award to veteran official Bill Clancy, and the Marie Backus Team of the Year Award to Team USA jujitsu, who trained at the Belfast barns last summer in preparation for their fall competition in Australia.
“Our Person, and Team of the Year are based solely on dedication and character,” said Burt. “Bill has officiated over 900 professional fights in his life, and of some of the biggest names and bouts of our times. First and foremost he always has the boxer’s well-being and safety as his top concern, no matter what. And as for Team USA made up of Bryana Baer, Mike Hanchett, Charlie Love, Desmond White, and Coach Barry Broughton of Olean, I simply have never witnessed a more dedicated group of athletes.”
To be considered as an Honorary Inductee, candidates must have brought a positive spotlight to modern boxing, or somehow uniquely be associated to the sport. In the case of boxers, they must have specifically brought positive attention to upstate New York during their career. “This year, the Honorary Inductees include Buffalo-based boxer of the 1960’s, 14-0 Dick Topinko who was picked by The Ring as one the top World prospects before a shoulder injury forced retirement; author and historian Tony Gee from England, regarded as one of the World’s best and most accurate; and Rick Jeanneret, legendary play-by-play commentator of the Buffalo Sabres since 1971, and a member of the NHL Hall of Fame. “Rick is a perfect example of what we mean by being ‘uniquely connected’ to the sport,” said Burt “No one in history has called more ‘bare-knuckle’ fights than Rick; albeit his were on ice! Fan favorite Rob Ray, a member of our very first class in 2009, says he hopes to be on hand to help induct Rick. Rick and Rob are now announcing partners for the Sabres. We couldn’t be more excited; I hope people turn out, this doesn’t often happen in Allegany County.”
The 2018 Original Bare Knuckle Inductee class consists of four members this year. Mike Conley; Bare Knuckle Boxer. Known as The Ithaca Giant, he was the 1888 Northwest American Heavyweight Champion. Career spanned 1886-1894; record was 26-4-2. Fought the likes of Joe McAuliffe, Patsy Cardiff, Billy Woods, Jim Corbett, Bob Fitzsimmons. His image is used today many times over to represent the “Manly Man”. From Ithaca, New York. Tom Johnson; Bare Knuckle Boxer. Tom restored honor to the sport after decades of corruption. Champion of England from 1784 to 1791. Demonstrated early mental tactical awareness in the ring that others previously lacked. Nat Langham; Bare Knuckle Boxer. An influential English pugilist who became the English Middleweight Champion. Nat was the only conqueror of Tom Sayers. After defeating Sayers in 1857 he retired to manage the first-ever professional Champion of the Boxing World, Jem Mace. Joe Lannon; Bare Knuckle Boxer. The Hammerer, who’s career spanned 1883-93. Fought George Godfrey, Jack Aston, Jake Kilrain, and Jim Corbett just to mention a few. Although known as one of the top heavyweights of his time, is best known for being John L. Sullivan’s exhibition and sparring partner; no one was in the ring with Sullivan more. Lannon’s great-grandson, and name-sake, will travel in from New Hampshire to accept the award.
The day is very gratifying to Burt, who has put in a decade of work to restore and save these historic barns, turning them into the World’s only Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame. “The Boxing World is really noticing Belfast, New York,” he said. “I get calls weekly from all around the globe from people who are interested in experiencing this bit of boxing history.” By far, he added, the best calls are the ones he makes to the nominees and their families. “The hard work and restoration is all worthwhile when I hear the joy on the other end of the phone as I inform nominees or their decedents that they will be inducted. Saving a piece of boxing history, promoting the town of Belfast, and honoring individuals for their accomplishments is what the BKBHOF is all about” stated Burt.
What is it that brings the boxers back to Belfast year after year? According to Burt, “The boxers see our sincerity. It is refreshing for them that we are solely about preserving the history of the sport,” he said.
The weekend events also include tours of the BKBHOF, housed in the pair of barns built in 1884 by Belfast’s favorite son William Muldoon. Muldoon was Sullivan’s trainer and an undefeated wrestler who went on to serve as NYS Boxing Commissioner from 1921 to 1924.
In 1889 Muldoon brought the sickly John L. Sullivan to his farm in rural Belfast to prepare him for the last-ever Heavyweight Bare Knuckle World Championship Fight of that era before Queensbury rules took over. “Muldoon wanted to get Sullivan away from distractions in the city that were getting in the way of his training,” explained Burt. After six tough weeks under Muldoon’s methods, Sullivan beat Champion Jake Kilrain in a two-hour 16 minute, 75-round slugfest that has been dubbed “The Brawl That Started It All” by Sports Illustrated.
“These barns are a virtual time capsule and we’ve worked hard to keep them that way,” said Burt. “Muldoon gave up ownership of them in the early 1900s and they – including some of the original equipment that Sullivan used – were locked up for 120 years.” In 2009 Burt moved the barns two blocks to a location in Belfast that is more easily accessible to the public. The structural rot and deterioration needed a lot of restoration to turn it into the BKBHOF, which now includes life-size marble statues of both Sullivan and Muldoon.
“The boxing world has responded more than we could have ever imagined to our project,” said Burt. According to the great boxing historian and a 2015 posthumous inductee, Bert Sugar, who helped guide Burt in the project this is the only Hall of Fame where the actual building itself is the main artifact. People have come from all over the World to see them, to stand where Sullivan stood. Burt has been named Buffalo Ring 44’s Man of the Year for his efforts and contributions to the sport of boxing.
For ticket information go to their official website www.bareknuckleboxinghalloffame.com You can also call/text Scott Burt directly at 585-610-3326 or email SRBURT@AOL.COM.
Bare Knuckle Heavyweight King Bobby Gunn is on hand to celebrate the 2017 Inductees into the Bare Knuckle Hall of Fame
Story by Alexander Rinaldi and John Rinaldi
With the rise of the UFC and other Ultimate Fighting bouts, it is the perfect time for bare knuckle boxing to make a comeback on the world stage. all things considered, it is also a sport that is clearly safer than the UFC and certainly more exciting to watch.
Moreover, Scott Burt, the President of the Bare Knuckle Hall of Fame was given the sole authority by the owners of the fabled Police Gazette (the publication that started the tradition of handing out championship belts) to name world BKB (Bare Knuckle Boxing) Champions.
Presently, the reigning title holder is Bobby Gunn, who defeated Richard Stewart in a sanctioned bare knuckle contest outside Scottsdale, Arizona on August 5, 2011, in a battle where the Yavapai Nation received sanctions to host the proceedings.
Another famous holder of the title was the legendary Jake Kilrain, who was awarded the belt by Richard Fox of the Police Gazette 1884. It was the first time that any boxing title belt was ever handed out to an individual (Sullivan reportedly turned his down when offered to him in 1882 after having a disagreement over the Publisher Richard Fox after Fox invited Sullivan to his table for a drink, and Sullivan got angry and retorted, “If any damn reporter wants to have a drink with me, he can very well walk over here.”)
The original belt given to Kilrain measured 50 inches long, 8 inches wide, and was made of 200 ounces of solid gold and silver.
Besides being given the authority to hand out World Bare Knuckle Championship belts and American Bare Knuckle Championship belts, Burt has turned the former training quarters that John L. Sullivan used to get whipped into shape by undefeated wrestling champion William Muldoon (who was also the owner of the facilities) to take on the greatest challenge of his career, Jake Kilrain (1859-1937), into the wonderful Bare Knuckle Hall of Fame.
To assist the great heavyweight champion, Muldoon brought Sullivan to the upstate New York town of Belfast and took an overweight, bloated, whiskey-soaked John L. and transformed him back into the unbeatable, deadly fighting machine he was in his prime. Muldoon was a no-nonsense trainer and nearly killed the heavyweight champion as he got Sullivan in terrific fighting trim. John L. would do his training in the Muldoon Barn, and sometimes wound up sleeping there when he broke training rules.
Sullivan and Kilrain finally met on July 8th, 1889 in Richburg, Mississippi. In a brutal battle that lasted over two and a half hours, Sullivan emerged the winner by stopping Kilrain in the 75th round in the last bout fought under the London Prize Rules for bare knuckle bouts.
In one of the most remarkable feats in preserving sports history, Scott Burt took the old Muldoon Barn and moved it a few blocks to its current location on Hughes Street. Though it was a major herculean task, Burt not only settled the building down, but spent the next year or so gathering back some items that were missing from the building that Sullivan actually used in his training. In addition to Burt’s efforts, many of the locals donated what they had found through the years and between those pieces of history and what was already in the barn, the most important historical place in boxing history was returned back in its former glory.
In another interesting side line in the fabled history of the barn is that Sullivan’s old adversary, Jake Kilrain, was the very next fighter to train there for his February 18, 1890 bout against future heavyweight king James J. Corbett. Although Kilrain lost a six-round decision to Corbett, his training trunk is also on display at the Bare Knuckle Hall of Fame.
Besides restoring the structure, Burt then took the building and established the Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame, which is the centerpiece of the sleepy hamlet in upstate New York.
To add to its ambiance, to greet visitors outside the hall of Fame stand two life-size statues of both John L. Sullivan and William Muldoon.
A new addition to the Bare Knuckle Hall of Fame is the ring that the fictional heavyweight champion Apollo Creed boxed on when he trained for his rematch with Rocky Balboa in the popular 1979 film Rocky II. Not only was the ring used in that film, it was also used in the past by such boxing greats as Roberto Duran and Ruben Olivares. The ring was out on display during the 2017 Bare Knuckle Hall of Fame Induction Day and will be eventually housed in the proposed new addition to the museum.
The Bare Knuckle Hall of Fame has various training gear that Sullivan used for his epic battle with Kilrain, along with the furniture he rested on, the shower he used, the bottles used for his rubdown, and even the weight pins that John L. used to tighten up his muscles. It is a fascinating place to visit. Upstairs is the Wrestling Room, where Muldoon would work with Sullivan to build up his strength, and the Rubdown Room, where the champ would get his tired body toned down after an exhaustive and grueling day of training.
In the Wrestling Room is a prominent display designed by The USA Boxing News, which is a large reprint of the Time Tunnel story chronicling the epic Sullivan-Kilrain contest that was detailed in a prior issue of the Hall of Fame publication.
The deserving group to get inducted into the Bare Knuckle Hall of Fame in 2017 were the following:
Uriah “Hughie” Burton – An undefeated BKB Champion of Ireland and the United Kingdom from the 1950s to the 1970s. Known also as “King of the Gypsies” in his fighting days.
Ted Daley – A living undefeated American Bare Knuckle Boxer. Daley was on hand as Bobby Gunn handed him his award, which is a statue of William Muldoon holding a medicine ball. “Thank you for the Bare Knuckle Hall of Fame for my induction. Today makes me think of how proud my father would have been. This is a wonderful honor,” said Daley.
Few realize that not only is Belfast the town where such fistic immortals as Sullivan and Kilrain trained at, but the medicine ball was invented there by William Muldoon. The medicine ball is still used in boxing and even in other sports as a great workout piece of training equipment.
Billy Edwards – Lightweight Bare Knuckle Champion of the World from 1868 to 1872.
Daniel Mendoza – Heavyweight Champion of England from 1792 to 1795. Mendoza is probably was of the most known champions in Bare Knuckle pugilistic history. He had a reported record of 34-3 (30 KO’s).
Shannon Ritch – Living BKB Inductee and the #1-ranked contender fo the American Police Gazette Bare Knuckle championship belt.
Ed Atherton – The 1902 World Middleweight Wrestling Champion, who hailed from Belfast and was a student of William Muldoon. Family members of Atherton were on hand and donated his Muldoon statue to the Belfast, NY Public Library, where a photograph of Atherton is on display.
Barry A. Broughton – Grandmaster from Olean, NY and was the coach of the 2017 U.S. National Sports Jujitsu Team.
Chris Guzman – The official artist of the Bare Knuckle Hall of Fame. Guzman, who stated that he was far from an athlete, was very honored to be inducted into the Bare Knuckle Hall of Fame. Each year he paints a glove of each inductee, along with an annual painting that goes on display in the BKHOF. Guzman is a talented artist and his work alone on display is a big reason to visit the museum. He has a distinctive style of painting that brings to live fistic ghosts of the past with vivid colors.
Roy “Stub” Harding – A former boxer from Angelica, NY, who fought from 1929-1945. Harding’s family was also on hand and Harding’s story is quite a fascinating one. Roy was stationed at Pearl Harbor before World War II. One morning he put on his boxing gear and was ready to begin a sparring session, but the only problem was that morning happen to be on December 7! Before Harding was able to climb through the ropes, he was dashing back to his barracks to dress up and gather his weapons as 353 Imperial Japanese aircraft launched from 6 aircraft carriers littered the sky, raining down bullets, bombs and torpedoes that terrorized the area.
Harding, luckily, was not among the 2,404 Americans killed or the 1,178 wounded.
It was quite a story to hear and certainly moved many in attendance.
Jimmy Holmes – A former Indiana State Middleweight Champion, who was known as “The Figthin’ School Teacher” in his career that spanned from 2003 to 2012. Holmes (20-4-2, 11 KO’s) trained in the Muldoon Barn in 2011 and became a favorite of the locals in Belfast. Holmes was thrilled with the honor and explained how much he enjoyed training in such historic surroundings and how friendly the people of Belfast are.
“Terrible” Tim Witherspoon – A two-time heavyweight champion who fought from 1979 to 2003, Witherspoon (55-13-1, 38 KO’s) defeated the tough contender Renaldo “Mr.” Snipes to earn a shot at the WBC World Heavyweight Champion Larry Holmes on May 20, 1983 at the Dunes Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, NV. After twelve, close rounds, the legendary Holmes retained his title by a 12-round split decision. After wins over Floyd Cummings and James “Quick” Tillis, Tim outpointed Greg Page to win a majority 12-round decision and the vacant WBC World Heavyweight Championship on March 9, 1984 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
After losing his title to Pinklon Thomas. The following year saw him knocking out James Broad in two rounds to win the NABF Heavyweight Title at the Memorial Auditorium in Buffalo, NY. The win in Buffalo made him a candidate for the Bare Knuckle Hall of Fame.
On January 17, 1986 at The Omini in Atlanta, GA, Witherspoon captured a majority decision to dethrone Tony Tubbs of his WBA World Heavyweight title. Tim then retained his title with an 11th-round TKO over future champion Frank Bruno on July 19, 1986 at London’s Wembley Stadium.
Witherspoon’s second title reign would end suddenly on December 12, 1986 when he was stopped in the opening round by James “Bonecrusher” Smith at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
Besides the inductees, each year the Marie Backus Person of the Year Award is given out and this year’s recipient was the deserving Gino Arilotta, the current President and the long-time Treasure of the esteemed Rochester Hall of Fame. It is because of the tireless efforts of Arilotta that the Rochester Boxing Hall of Fame is still around for fans to visit.
The 2017 Bare Knuckle Hall of Fame Ceremonies were held at the Methodist Family Center, where the attendees were treated to a sumptuous brunch and clips of many of the inductees were on view on a big screen.
For boxing fans, it is worth the effort to make the journey up to Belfast, New York, to visit the Bare Knuckle Hall of Fame and be surrounded by such pugilistic history.
The Bare Knuckle Hall of Fame brings back memories of fistic lore and days gone by.
Team USA to Train Old School at Bare Knuckle Hall of Fame under Muldoon-Burt System
BELFAST, NEW YORK – Old School training is scheduled to once again return to Belfast. Scott Burt, President of the Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame and Barry Broughton, a Coach for the US National Sport Jujitsu Team have coordinated a two-day training event to be held at the historic BKBHOF barns July 28 and 29. Four of the twenty-member Team USA hale from AKT Combatives Academy in Olean and Wellsville, NY. The National Jujitsu team will be representing the USA at the World Council of Jujitsu Organization’s (WCJJO) World Championships being held in October on the Gold Coast of Queensland, Australia.
In 1889 John L. Sullivan was trained in Belfast by area native William “Iron Duke” Muldoon for a 75-round fight that was held in Richburg, Mississippi, where he beat then World Champion Jake Kilrain for the Holy Grail of all belts, that of the Police Gazette; whose caretake of was recently bestowed upon Scott Burt. The barns sat unused for over 120 years but re-opened in 2009 after extensive renovation as the only Hall of Fame in the World dedicated to bareknucklers. The original fight between Sullivan and Kilrain was dubbed by Sports Illustrated as “The Brawl that Started it All”.
Six years ago, Jimmy Holmes, a former three-time Indiana Middleweight Boxing Champion and 2017 Honorary Inductee in the BKBHOF, completed a week-long training camp at the historic barns under the system used by William Muldoon, tweaked by Burt, in preparation for an upcoming professional gloved fight. Holmes was the first to train at the barns since Muldoon, a Greco-Roman Wrestling World Champion turned trainer, prepared fighters there over 120 years ago. Last November Undefeated Bare Knuckle Boxing World Champion Bobby Gunn also trained at the barns prior to his gloved bout against living legend Roy Jones, Jr.
Team USA members who will be training at the Belfast barns include Charlie Love, Mike Hanchett, Desmond White and Bryana Baer, coached by Broughton, also a 2017 Honorary Inductee. Sport Jujitsu bouts consist of two 2-minute rounds of fast paced continuous sparring where competitors earn points for strikes, punches, kicks, throws, takedowns, submissions by chokes and joint locks.
“We are only three months out from the World Championships and I felt we needed to take a couple of days away from the rest of the world to get focused on the job at hand. What better place to do that than where William Muldoon transformed John Sullivan for his historic 2 hour and 16 minute fight 128 years ago. We are honored that Scott has invited us to ‘train old school’ where history was made so long ago” Broughton stated.
“While boxing has always included punching, what many people do not realize is that historically it also included grappling techniques, throws, arm locks, and chokes as well as kicks.” The barns that were built by Muldoon in 1884, and now house the BKB Hall of Fame, has a wrestling room upstairs that was used by Sullivan and Muldoon themselves. “That is what makes this training so exciting for us” Broughton continued, “We intend to train there as Muldoon had fully intended, probably minus the one daily Bass ale that Muldoon allowed Sullivan though” quipped Broughton playfully .
Training at the barns will commence early Friday morning, July 28th, and conclude late Saturday evening. The team members and coach will stay overnight in the barns just as Sullivan and Holmes did in the past. Team members will incorporate Muldoon’s old school training methods of using swing clubs and medicine balls into their modern training protocols. Muldoon was credited with inventing the medicine ball. They will train with the heavy ropes found in the barns and run the trails John L. Sullivan ran. In addition to the conditioning drills, Team USA members will be sparring in the boxing ring outside the Hall of Fame; the same ring used by Apollo Creed in his ‘Palatial Gym’ in the movie Rocky II. Burt purchased the famous ring last year from Hollywood after it was in storage for over 30 years.
The public is encouraged to come out and watch as Team USA members train. You can even step into the ring and “spar”, or just get a photo, with a Team USA Member for only $20 for 2 rounds! Team photos will also be available for autographs as well. Proceeds will assist team members in offsetting the travel expenses incurred when attending the World Championships this fall. Sparring times are scheduled for 5-6:30 pm Friday evening, 10-Noon and 2-4 pm on Saturday. If the weather is uncooperative, the inside workouts and outside sparring will simply be switched, so come no matter what! Tours of the historic Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame will also be available. Scott Burt will give the tours himself, and they will be at noon each day; the cost is $10 per person and the proceeds will be used for upkeep of the HOF.
In addition to their upcoming training in Belfast, team members have been attending monthly US National Jujitsu Team training camps in OH, NY, VA, WV and NC throughout the year in preparation for the World Championships. “What a treat and an honor to host Team USA “ stated Burt, the only man in the world who can name Bare Knuckle Champions. “Belfast’s treasure is known world-wide, and the people of Belfast are the best hosts any one could hope for. Please come out are support these athletes…when’s the last time a Team USA of any sport came to train in Allegany County!”
Come watch history in the making at the Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame, 5 Hughes St., Belfast, NY. For more information call or text Hall of Fame President Scott Burt at (585) 610-3326 or Team USA Coach Barry Broughton at (716) 373-1050.
Watch the Boxing Twins Tour of the Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame
BARE KNUCKLE BOXING HALL OF FAME
INDUCTION CLASS OF 2017 (Ceremony to be July 8; Belfast, New York)
Must have fought completely bare fisted sometime in their career; no wraps:
Uriah “Hughie” Burton, Boxer (King of the Gypsies late 1950s-early 1970s; known as ‘Big Just’)
Undefeated Bare Knuckle Boxing Champion of the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Ted Daley, Boxer; Undefeated Bare Knuckle Boxing Champion; Living Inductee.
Billy Edwards, Boxer; 1868-1872; Lightweight Bare Knuckle Boxing Champion of the World.
Bartley Gorman V, Boxer (King of the Gypsies 1972-1992) English born traveller of Welsh
and Irish descent; Undefeated Bare Knuckle Boxing Champion of the UK and Ireland.
Daniel Mendoza, Boxer; Heavyweight Champion of England from 1792-1795 (34-3 w/30 KOs).
Shannon Ritch, Boxer (Living Inductee) Bare knuckle record of 25-2 (25 KOs). Known as the
“Most active fighter on the planet.” #1 Ranked Contender for America’s Police Gazette belt.
Must have brought positive spotlight to upstate New York:
Ed Atherton, Wrestler, 1902 World Champion from Belfast, New York; pupil of Wm. Muldoon.
Barry Broughton, Local Grand Master from Olean, New York; known World-wide.
Chris Guzman, World known Boxing Artist; his work fills our Hall of Fame Room of Honor.
Roy Harding, Boxer; Local legend; fought 1929-1945. Soldier at Pearl Harbor during the attack.
Jimmy Holmes, Boxer; Indiana State Champion who trained in the Muldoon-Sullivan barns.
Tim Witherspoon, Boxer; 2-Time World Heavyweight Champion (WBC 1984, WBA 1986).
MARIE BACKUS PERSON OF THE YEAR:
Gino Arilotta, Rochester Boxing Hall of Fame President.
Scott R. Burt, President
BARE KNUCKLE BOXING HALL OF FAME
5 West Hughes Street; Belfast, New York 14711
(correspondence mailed to 3876 State Route 19; Scio, New York 14880)
For tickets; 585-610-3326 (cell/text) email@example.com (email)
Historic National Police Gazette passes 100% authority to BKBHOF’s President Scott Burt
BELFAST, NEW YORK – In a move that is reflective of all the hard work he has put in to making the World’s Bare Knuckle Boxing light shine brightly on the little town of Belfast New York’s treasured Hall of Fame, the iconic and historic National Police Gazette passed its torch to local man Scott R. Burt Thursday evening, February 4, in Elmira; a control the Gazette has exclusively had since the late 1800s. From 1877 to 1889, Gazette Publisher Richard K. Fox not only ran the Gazette, but also invented the Championship Boxing Belt and bestowed it upon the Champions of that era. In 1882 John L. Sullivan beat Paddy Ryan for the American title, but in 1887 Fox stripped it of him and gave it to Jake Kilrain for not accepting a challenge. At the same time, because Fox was upset with Sullivan, he also changed the title to World instead of American. Then, famously, in the last-ever bareknuckle fight of that era, Sullivan won the belt back in 1889 in a 75-round 2 hours 15 minute slugfest outside in 104 degree weather. After that fight, which Sullivan trained for right here in Belfast, bare knuckle bouts were replaced by gloved ones and the belt was never issued again….although talked about much.
Skip ahead 125 years to 2014. Scott Burt, founder and president of the World’s only Hall of Fame dedicated to the bareknucklers honors Undefeated 71-0 Bobby Gunn by giving him the Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame belt. In 2011 Gunn had fought a legal match and won it on an Arizona Indian Reservation; the reason Burt recognized him.
Last Thursday evening Steve Westlake, the owner of The National Police Gazette, asked to meet with Burt. Westlake has kept a watchful eye on Burt since he opened the BKBHOF is 2009, and has been so impressed with Burt’s work, knowledge, and sincerity in task since that he unilaterally offered Burt complete control, responsibility, and ownership of the Worldwide issuing of Bare Knuckle belts. He even gave Burt 100% authority to use the National Police Gazette’s name and logo on the belts if he wishes. “Wow, what an honor” stated Burt, “The baton has been officially passed from the famous Richard K. Fox of the late 1800s to me. It is hard to put into words what this means. The degree of honor and responsibility that comes with this overcomes me. This is truly a historic moment. And for the people of Belfast a very, very proud one indeed. Personally, it is the best stamp of approval I could ever receive. I am honored and touched beyond words; congratulatory emails have been flooding in to me from all over the World in the last 24 hours….its unbelievable; I’m both stunned and honored at the same time. This certainly cements Belfast’s position in the Bare Knuckle Boxing World as being BKB’s number one authority.”
The following is the official blog by Steve Westlake of The National Police Gazette posted Saturday, February 6.
Closing the Squared Circle: The Return of Sanctioned Bare-Knuckle Boxing
“The end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”
Richard K. Fox took over the National Police Gazette in 1877 and soon began featuring boxing within the Gazette’s pages. This was prize fighting, by the London Prize Ring Rules. There were no gloves, no wraps, no protection of any sort from the waist up. And it was totally illegal in every jurisdiction within the United States.
Prize fighting had always been illegal in the U.S. But it was popular nonetheless, until the first high-profile tragedy occurred in 1842. In a match in Hastings, New York, Christopher Lilly essentially beat Thomas McCoy to death. And the combination of a law-enforcement crackdown and the public’s shock at the incident put a pall over the sport in this country for a generation.
With the passage of time, however, the public’s taste for bare knuckle boxing began to return. And then two things happened. Those things were Richard K. Fox and John L. Sullivan.
Fox’s story can be found elsewhere in this website. But in a nutshell, he was the P.T. Barnum of publishing. He refined sensational journalism to a degree never before approached, which is still the template for it to this day. Conflict was king, and shocking, in-your-face depictions of activities society preferred to sweep under the rug was queen. Bare knuckle boxing fit this recipe to a T.
John L. Sullivan, like Muhammad Ali 80 years later, had phenomenal ring skills combined with an uncanny feel for promotion and public relations. Did Fox and Sullivan really hate each other as is commonly thought? After all, Fox was Irish Protestant and Sullivan Irish Catholic. Was it a coincidence that their conflict produced the greatest boxing matches of the late 19th century, bringing Sullivan, the Police Gazette, and boxing in general to heights no one could have imagined? Don’t bet on it.
In 1889, Fox backed the latest of his challengers to try to teach Sullivan a lesson. Jake Kilrain lost that fight, and Sullivan solidified his hold on the bare knuckle boxing championship of the world, winning the Police Gazette championship belt. It would be the last bout to determine that championship for over 120 years.
After more than 10 years of Fox and Sullivan’s efforts, boxing was on the threshold of mainstream acceptance. But there was one catch: it had to be gloved, Marquess of Queensberry Rules. In 1892, Sullivan fought James Corbett for the first gloved championship to be held completely legally in the light of day. From that point on, professional boxing followed the gloved path and the bare-knuckle variety was left to the back alleys and dark corners.
But after more than 100 years of evidence, who are the gloves really protecting? The punch taker or the punch thrower? There are not enough examples yet to do a scientific comparison, but are brain injuries really less common in the gloved version than the bare knuckle? Or is it reversed? One way to answer the question might be to ask which sport has more brain injuries, rugby or American football? Both similar sports. One with no protection, the other with massive amounts of protection. But again, what is being protected more? The recipient of the blow or the deliverer who is so cushioned he can deliver with maximum force each time without worry of doing damage to himself.
With that—and other factors and influences—in mind, bare knuckle boxing has been experiencing a renaissance. Yet it picks up right where it left off in 1889: as illegal as the day is long. This in spite of the fact that safety precautions are now abundant, so a repeat of a Thomas McCoy incident is remote. Bouts are no longer governed by the London Prize Ring Rules, which allowed stand-up grappling, throwing, and the rule that said if a fighter was able to walk to the center of the ring without assistance the fight would go on. Fighters like McCoy had to rely on his seconds to know he’d had enough and to stop the fight, whereas impartial referees have that job today.
How, then, can a new bare knuckle championship belt be given without condoning illegal activity? The first Americans have the answer! On August 5, 2011, the Yavapai Nation just outside Scottsdale, Arizona, sanctioned a bare-knuckle bout between Bobby Gunn and Richard Stewart under the laws of the Nation. Gunn emerged the victor and claimed the bare knuckle world championship, a claim made more official when Scott R. Burt of the Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame presented Gunn with a championship belt in 2014.
This belt is the first given to a bare knuckle champion since Richard K. Fox presented his to John L. Sullivan on behalf of the National Police Gazette in 1889. This year, the Police Gazette officially recognizes the authority of Scott Burt’s belt, bringing full circle a sport that has remained in the shadows for 125 years, and giving today’s fans a chance to “know the place for the first time.”
The Police Gazette Heavyweight Champion Belt
Today’s Belts Presented by the Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame; Top one is the WORLD belt, presented in 2014 to World Champion Bobby Gunn. The bottom one is the AMERICAN belt; it will be presented this July to Undefeated 44-0 Danny Batchelder at the BKBHOF’s annual Induction Ceremony in Belfast, New York.
Also scheduled to be in attendance July 9 in Belfast is their First-ever Living International Inductee James Quinn McDonagh(fighter and producer of the movie ‘Knuckle’) and the legendary Backyard Brawler and also a 2016 Inductee, Kimbo Slice.
Ticket info at www.bareknuckleboxinghalloffame
All Photographs by Alex Rinaldi
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Kimbo Slice finally reached; just added to BKBHOF Class of 2016!
Belfast, New York – SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT – “I have been working for months to a make contact with him, and today it finally happened” stated Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame President Scott Burt. “Rounding out the Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame Class of 2016 will be inductee Kevin Ferguson, better known to all his fans all around the World as Kimbo Slice. Kimbo is one of the most famous backyard bare knuckle brawlers of all time; a living internet fighting sensation that pulled the World in to see and fall in love with our sport.
He has without question been extremely instrumental in promoting the sport to the level it currently is at. We are proud and honored to have the opportunity on July 9 to induct Mr. Slice into the BKBHOF in Belfast, New York; a small rural Irish town where the Great John L. Sullivan prepared under the guidance of his trainer and hometown hero William Muldoon over 125 years ago. That fight has recently been called “The Brawl that Started It All” by Sports Illustrated. Against Jake Kilrain, it went 75 rounds, 2 hours 15 minutes, outside in 104 degree weather. Sullivan won, and a legend was created. The wonderful barns that he trained in have been beautifully restored. Stepping into them is just like stepping into a time machine. Sullivan’s equipment is there to be seen and handled, along with the ‘cell’ where he was dried out when he had too much to drink, the elaborate ‘Room of Repose’ where they rested and planned, and even Muldoon’s wrestling mat.
Its a wonderful experience. Kimbo is one of only 4 living bareknucklers ever inducted into our Hall of Fame, the only one in the World dedicated to the bareknucklers. In this year’s class of living bare knuckle boxing inductees, Kimbo will be joining Undefeated 44-0 American BKB Champion Danny Batchelder and our First-Ever International Inductee James Quinn McDonagh who is an Undefeated 11-0 bare knuckle fighter, author, and the inspiration for the movie ‘Knuckle’. Also on hand July 9 will be 71-0 Undefeated World Champion Bobby Gunn; our 2015 inductee and belt holder. The town is ecstatic, and I couldn’t be happier. Wow…What a Class!!!” Scott Burt, BKBHOF President. Tickets available in February via SRBURT@AOL.COM
BARE KNUCKLE BOXING HALL OF FAME Class of 2016
President Scott Burt announces finalized members!
THE USA BOXING NEWS LEADS THE CLASS OF MODERN HONORARY INDUCTEES
JANUARY 9, 2016. Belfast, New York – ORIGINAL PIONEER AND BOXER INDUCTEES: Current American Undefeated 44-0 BKB Heavyweight Champion Dan Batchelder (First to be recognized since 1882), Our First-Ever Living International Inductee (Undefeated fighter, author, and inspiration for the movie “Knuckle”) James Quinn McDonagh, 1879 American Lightweight Champion Arthur Chambers, 1879 Australian Champion Larry Foley, and the iconic National Police Gazette! HONORARY INDUCTEES: Champion James J. Corbett who defeated John L. Sullivan for first gloved title in 1892, Boxing News Magazine (since 1909), The Ring Magazine (since 1922), and The USA Boxing News (instrumental in upstate New York boxing)! PERSON OF THE YEAR: Rochester Boxing HOF president Bob Collins! Undefeated 71-0 World BKB Champion Bobby Gunn to be in attendance too! It doesn’t get any better than this folks! Induction Day is Saturday, July 9, in Belfast, New York. SRBURT@AOL.COM.
The Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame (BKBHOF) is housed in the original barns that the Great John L. Sullivan trained in back in 1889 for the last-ever bare knuckle fight of that era. The fight has famously been called “The Brawl That Started It All” by Sports Illustrated, and that is true. ESPN, 60 Minutes Sports, Disney Tokyo, and the History Channel have all done or are in the process of doing stories on BKBHOF. Every year we have inductions into our Hall from two groups; Original Pioneers, and Modern Honorary Inductees.
So far the BKBHOF has inducted 38 Original Bareknucklers from the 1700s and 1800s. They are from all over the World; both men and women. They are the best of the best bareknucklers. The Original Bare Knucklers inducted last year were Professor Mike Donovan from the 1880s; John Gully from the 1700s; and our first-ever living Bareknuckler, World Champion Bareknuckler Bobby Gunn who holds our belt.
To be a Modern Honorary Inductee into the Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame a person must have brought a positive spotlight to upstate New York. A few of the Modern Honorary Inductees we have had the privilege of including on our “Wall of Honor” over the past few years, and all who have come to Belfast to see the barns first-hand, are Baby Joe Mesi and his team of trainers including Sugar DeLeon, World Champion Carmen Basilio, World Champion Billy Backus, 3-time World Champion Carlos Ortiz, Champion Livingstone Bramble, Champion Christy Martin, Olympic Coach Gloria Peek, New York State Commissioner Melvina Lathan, Dick Wipperman, the family of Buffalo trainer Johnny Sudac, and special guest Leon Spinks who liked the experience so much he stayed three extra days! Last year’s Honorary class included four commentators; Al Bernstein, Howard Cosell, Don Dunphy, and Bert Sugar who was one of our biggest supporters. Buffalo’s 1950’s fighter Johnny Green, and his son Jack Green who was the long-time President of Ring 44 in Buffalo were the first father-son duo to be inducted, and Champion Charles “The Natural” Murray rounded out last year’s Honorary class.
Without question, The USA Boxing News has for the last 25 years been instrumental in shining a positive spotlight on Upstate New York. Simply put, boxing in New York State would not be what it is today without the influence of The USA Boxing News. That is why The USA Boxing News has been unanimously chosen by the BKBHOF committee as one of our 2016 Honorary Inductees! One would have a tough time mentioning boxing in New York State without talking about The USA Boxing News, that’s for sure.
In 1889 John L. Sullivan trained in our barns for the World’s last-ever Bare Knuckle Championship fight. He defeated Jake Kilrain in a 2 hour 15 minute slugfest that went 75 rounds outside in 104 degree weather. Sullivan was trained here for that fight by the famous wrestler and health guru of the time, local man William Muldoon, who later became boxing commissioner from 1921-24. It is Muldoon’s name, with Gene Tunney’s, that is on the men’s Heavyweight Champions boxing trophy. For 120 years these barns, originally built by Muldoon, were locked up and unavailable to the general public. In 2009 we unlocked and restored them. It was Mr. Sugar himself that told us our Hall of Fame is not only the only one in the World dedicated to the bareknucklers, but also the only known Boxing Hall of Fame where the building itself is the main attraction. We even have Sullivan’s original equipment. Visiting it is like stepping back in time to 1889; our restoration effort has gone to all ends to make sure of it.