Stayton Bonner

Stayton Bonner

    Father. Fighter. Champion. Outlaw. 

    Hailed as an “exhilarating debut” by Publishers Weekly, Bare Knuckle by former Rolling Stone editor Stayton Bonner (nominated for the Dan Jenkins Medal of Excellence in Sportswriting) takes readers into a previously unknown world: the underground circuit of illegal bare-knuckle fighting.

    Bare Knuckle is the remarkable true tale of Bobby Gunn, the 73–0 undisputed champion of bare-knuckle boxing.

    An inspiring underdog story that reads like a real-life Rocky

    Bobby Gunn has been fighting for his existence since a childhood spent living under the hand of his volatile father, and would do anything to give his seven-year-old daughter a better life—including betting on himself in the underground world of bare-knuckle boxing.

    In 1984, Gunn was an eleven-year-old boxer in Ontario when his father woke him in the middle of the night to fight grown men in motel parking lots for money, his old man pocketing the cash. From there, Gunn traveled to Las Vegas, Tijuana, and beyond, competing in ringed matches as well as in biker bars and mobster dens on the side, brawling to make ends meet.

    But it was only with the birth of his daughter—and his desire to help her avoid his fate—that Gunn entered the big-time world of underground Russian-mob matches of up to $50,000 a night in New York City, hoping to finally raise his family above the fray.

    Former Rolling Stone editor Stayton Bonner travels the underground for years with Gunn, the world champion of bare-knuckle boxing with a 73–0 record, shining a light on a secret circuit that’s never before been revealed. Along the way, we explore the fascinating history of this first sport in America, Gunn’s Irish Traveler community—a sect of religious fighters best known through Brad Pitt’s depiction in Snatch—as well as his part in the improbable rise of the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship, the first legal revival of the sport.

    Bare Knuckle, a tale of triumph, loss, and a father’s love for his family, is a heartbreaking but ultimately inspiring story that will have you rooting until the end.