Bare Knuckle

Bobby Gunn, 71–0 Undefeated. A Dad. A Dream. A Fight like You’ve Never Seen.

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Pub Date 23 Apr 2024 | Archive Date Not set

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Description

Based on the acclaimed article in Men’s Journal

Soon to be a major motion picture

Undefeated in seventy-one fights, Bobby Gunn, 42, is the undisputed world champion of bare-knuckle boxing. He rules the circuit, a nationwide underground network of pro boxers, mixed martial artists, and anything-goes street brawlers who square off without gloves in empty warehouses and mobster McMansions for as much as $50,000 a fight. It’s dangerous, bloody, and illegal almost everywhere—a secret world run by organized crime. And for Gunn, a devout Christian using the prize money to put his seven-year-old daughter through private school, it’s his only shot at a better life—one that may even revive America’s first sport in the process.

Based on the acclaimed article in Men’s Journal

Soon to be a major motion picture

Undefeated in seventy-one fights, Bobby Gunn, 42, is the undisputed world champion of bare-knuckle boxing. He rules the...


A Note From the Publisher

Stayton Bonner is a former senior editor at Rolling Stone. His journalism has appeared in publications including GQ, Esquire, and Outside. “Champion of the Underworld,” the 2016 Men’s Journal article that was the basis for this book, was nominated for the Dan Jenkins Medal for Excellence in Sportswriting. This is his first book.

Stayton Bonner is a former senior editor at Rolling Stone. His journalism has appeared in publications including GQ, Esquire, and Outside. “Champion of the Underworld,” the 2016 Men’s Journal article...


Advance Praise

“A remarkable story of triumph and heartbreak.”

-Don Winslow, #1 internationally bestselling author of The Cartel


“Yes, this a knockout of a book. But it’s also an exercise in nuance and grace and slick maneuvering. Inasmuch as bareknuckle fights go to the judges’ scorecards, this gets a unanimous decision.”

-Jon Wertheim, Sports Illustrated writer, 60 Minutes correspondent, and author of Glory Days: The Summer of 1984 and the 90 Days That Changed Sports and Culture Forever

“A remarkable story of triumph and heartbreak.”

-Don Winslow, #1 internationally bestselling author of The Cartel


“Yes, this a knockout of a book. But it’s also an exercise in nuance and grace and...


Marketing Plan

Based on the acclaimed article in Men’s Journal

Soon to be a major motion picture

National media features

Major review attention

Print and online advertising

Radio tour

Outreach to sports and boxing fans

Early outreach and giveaways on Goodreads

Bookseller and library trade show marketing and appearances

Based on the acclaimed article in Men’s Journal

Soon to be a major motion picture

National media features

Major review attention

Print and online advertising

Radio tour

Outreach to sports and boxing fans

...


Available Editions

EDITION Hardcover
ISBN 9781982650711
PRICE $25.99 (USD)

Available on NetGalley

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Featured Reviews

Brutal as they may be, fighting sports have long been popular not only for spectators but also participants of all races, sizes and socioeconomic statuses. While boxing and mixed martial arts are the more well-known organized fighting sports, bare knuckle fighting has a life of its own. It is popular and lucrative – and underground as it is illegal in most places and is often tied with organized crime. One of the most successful bare knuckle fighters is Bobby Gunn, who never lost a match – at least by the unofficial records kept – and is a completely different person when not fighting. His story is told in this excellent book by Stayton Bonner.

Gunn came from a family of fighters, most notably his father, a successful professional wrestler, who trained him originally to be a boxer. While Bobby had some success in boxing, even winning a cruiserweight championship, his greatest success and fame came in the bare knuckle circuit. Bonner does a terrific job of not only giving the reader the story of Gunn, but also a up-close look at the underground world of bare knuckle fighting. These include the quick-cash bouts that can make a good fighter like Gunn become flush with money quickly, the training ground and fight sights that double as organized crime hangouts, and the sheer brutalness of the sport. The sections that describe some of the fights, especially those stories shared by Gunn, are not for the squeamish as there are many serious injuries suffered by fighters of all skills. It should also be noted that many of these fights are very short. A five-minute brawl between combatants would be considered a very long bout in this world.

As for Gunn himself, his story is as complex as his chosen athletic endeavor. He would hustle for construction jobs, mainly laying down asphalt for driveways and parking lots, in many locations. This is consistent with his upbringing as an Irish Traveler. The Traveler lifestyle, complete with the marginalization and fierce loyalty to their groups separated by ethnicity or religion, is a hard, nomadic one and Bonner brings this lifestyle to the reader just as well as he describes the bare knuckle fighting world. While Gunn eventually settles down (mostly) in New Jersey with his wife and two children for work, he maintains his presence in the fighting world for both underground bare knuckle and in boxing. For the latter, he not only tried an unsuccessful comeback in middle age but he also trained his son as well.

Gunn’s story about his family and personal life is touching. This is especially true when he talks about his daughter and what he will do for her, which was the main reason he kept fighting. Given the world where he earns that kind of money so he can take her to Disney World or to provide her with a good education, it also seems like a contradiction. But then, nothing ever came easy to any Gunn family member and this book is one that describes his life and his professional in a complete and wonderful manner. Even if a reader is not a fan of fighting or combat sports, it is one that most will enjoy for the family bonding. Even if that family is connected with a brutal, mostly illegal sport.

I wish to thank Blackstone Publishing for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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