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First Major Bare-Knuckle Boxing Event in 130 Years Gets Bloody

In a first for America, fighters legally boxed without gloves in a banner Wyoming event
By Josh Gardner,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 3, 2018 1:54 PM CDT
Promoter David Feldman, center, prepares for a news conference for a bare-knuckle boxing event at the Cheyenne Ice and Events Center in Wyoming   (AP Photo/Bob Moen)

(Newser) – In what is being called a first since 1889, a large-scale, government sanctioned bare-knuckle boxing event took place in Wyoming on Saturday night and things got bloody. Per USA Today, a sold out crowd of 2,000 people in Cheyenne watched as 10 bouts played out before them with fighters protected only by a little gauze around the palm. An even larger audience likely tuned in via pay-per-view to see the fights, including four heavyweight bouts. Fighters came from several backgrounds including boxing, UFC and MMA. The quickest knockout occurred when Sam Shewmaker used one punch to send Eric Prindle to the canvas 18 seconds into their heavyweight bout. "It felt like hitting a home run," Shewmaker told the AP., a fourth-generation stone mason from the tiny central Missouri town of Gravois Mills. "I didn't think I would be able to catch him that early, but luckily I did."

In the only female fight of the night, 29-year-old Bec Rawlings from Brisbane, Australia stopped Alma Garcia with a TKO in the second round. Rawlings and her fellow combatants were all eager to become the first to take off the gloves for a large-scale event since July 8, 1889, when John L. Sullivan went 75 rounds to beat Jake Kilrain. Even that event was illegal and had to be staged under the cover of secrecy as most states had outlawed the non-gloved version of boxing. Fighting was forced underground until 2011, when a Yavapai Nation sanctioned a match that drew more than a million viewers. The promoter of that event and Saturday's, David Feldman, realized there was a hungry market for bare-knuckle fights. Wyoming has since become the first state to sanction and regulate the sport. (Read more Wyoming stories.)

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