Saturday in Cheyenne, Wyo., Barnett will fight on the first state-sanctioned bare-knuckle boxing card in the U.S. since the days of John L. Sullivan – a span of 130 years. It’s a case, as his manager says, of the oldest sport becoming the newest sport.
As Barnett himself says, there will be blood. But to those who see bare-knuckle fighting as the new low in a combat sports industry trending toward barbarism, advocates hit back with counter-arguments. Gloves weren’t adopted in the 1890s to protect fighters’ heads and bodies. Rather, they were intended to protect the hands, allowing a boxer to land more punches and to throw harder. Though they give an illusion of safety, gloves allow for an accumulation of blows that can be severely damaging and have proven deadly at times.
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