Back Yard Brawl's CEO Greg Bloom sat with FanSided to discuss the rise of bare-knuckle boxing.
30 years ago, it appeared that MMA was destined to fail. State commissions viewed the sport as too violent, arenas would reject offers to host events and fans did not have close to the same amount of content that is available now. Today, it is one of the fastest growing sports in the whole world and has seen the combat sport go from the label of 'human cock-fighting' to one of the most electrifying events to watch week-in and week-out.
Back Yard Brawl's (BYB) CEO Greg Bloom believes bare-knuckle boxing is heading in the same direction. Bloom is a man with many years of experience in the fight game, being a sports attorney that allowed him to represent combat sport athletes of all calibers, from Olympians to world champions. Yet, Bloom believes this is easily the next 'big thing' coming out.
"When I went to my first live event...this (bare-knuckle boxing) is something unlike any other combat sport I have ever been involved with, the way the fans reacted to it, the sounds of the punches. It was different from anything I'd seen."
Prior to becoming the CEO, Bloom represented BYB as a sport attorney but he realised that the sooner he got involved in the sport, the better. "I looked at it like MMA 20 years ago. Something fresh and new with a lot of runway to grow," he said.
BYB has been doing just that since becoming the first organization to focus solely on bare-knuckle boxing. Founded by Dhafir Harris, who most combat sports fans will know as 'Dada 5000', all the way back in 2014 in South Florida, BYB has long been at the forefront of bare-knuckle boxing, and hopes to continue to lead its exponential growth.
BYB is leading the bare-knuckle boxing revolution
In order for bare-knuckle boxing to try and defeat the likes of boxing and MMA in terms of popularity, it needs to come up with new and thrilling ways to catch people's attention. BYB's patented Trigon ring is certainly doing that.
As the name suggests, the Trigon is a triangular-shaped ring, essentially disallowing any fighter from making lateral escapes that you see in the likes of a boxing ring or MMA cage. Bloom's first encounter with the ring essentially sold him on the idea.
"I was like, 'holy shit, these guys are going to have to fight."
And fight they do. According to the official BYB website, around 90 percent of fights in the Trigon end in a knockout. "We leave the decision in the hands of the fighters, not the judges," said Bloom.
The Trigon has fortunately been a huge success, and BYB has been rapidly expanding not just across the United States but the whole world. They've been to London, with a show booked in June to return to the UK for the inaugural 'Police Gazzette Internatinational Cup' which sees BYB take on British bare-knuckle promotion BKB for the trophy.
They also hosted the first-ever bare-knuckle boxing event in the Gulf Region in March of 2023 when they visited Dubai. Despite Bloom stating that there were some difficulties when it came to setting the event up, he was reassured following a successful night of fights.
"Our event was really a tester to see how the region would accept it (bare-knuckle boxing) and I think we passed with flying colors," he said. "No matter where you go in the world with BYB, people are going to love it. It's just a matter of getting it in front of them." Such was the success in Dubai that Bloom stated they were invited back, with plans to go towards the end of the year for another show.
Of course, they haven't forgotten about their loyal followers back home in the US. Bloom said that they are looking to build hardcore fanbases in the states where BYB was received with open arms, such as their home of Florida, South Carolina, and Mississippi. In fact, BYB is returning to Rock Hill, SC for the states' second ever bare-knuckle boxing event, the first one being BYB 14 back in December 2022.
The aforementioned states are just a few of the many that BYB is aiming to visit this year. They will host their first show in California in April, take a trip to Virginia for the very first time, and even have a potential show in either Colorado or Georgia by the end of the year. It is clear that bare-knuckle boxing is developing rapidly and BYB heads the list of revolutionaries.
"I think this is really the next big thing, I really do," said Bloom. "This really is the purest form of combat. Any athlete that wants to test their mettle, there's really only one place to do it and that's the Trigon."
Although athletes and fans have slowly come around to the all-out-action that BYB and bare-knuckle boxing promises, there are still those who don't believe in the legitimacy of the sport. They see it as too savage and not a sport but rather a showcase of hyper-violence. Bloom has the perfect response for all those who are doubting that bare-knuckle boxing is here to stay.
"Come watch a live event. This is just like boxing, just like MMA but it is one thousand times more exciting."