PRESS RELEASE; for immediate release
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) firstname.lastname@example.org (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.