BELFAST — At the end of this month, a modern-day bare-knuckle boxing champion will be recognized in the community in three special ways.
Bobby Gunn, who on Aug. 5, 2011 won the heavyweight bare knuckle boxing title by defeating Richard Stewart during boxing’s first sanctioned bare-knuckle boxing match since a 1889 fight between John L. Sullivan and Jake Kilrain, will be inducted into the Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame, and will be honored in two other ways, later this month.
In honor of Gunn’s induction, Hall of Fame President Scott Burt has declared July 31, 2015, as Bobby Gunn Day at the Hall of Fame.
“There is no question that Bobby Gunn is the new face of bare-knuckle boxing. I’m in hopes that his next fight will honor Mr. Sullivan even more,” Burt said, noting Gunn was also victorious in 71 unsanctioned bare-knuckle fights. “I’m confident that his 2011 fight was just the beginning of what will prove to be the rebirth of the next great combat sport.”
To commemorate that day, Burt worked with Belfast U.S. Postmaster Craig Stauring, and in turn the U.S. Postal Service, to create a special cancellation stamp for July 31. Patrons can take their mail in that day to Belfast and request the special stamping.
“I’m just over the moon about this,” Gunn said, “… not only about the special stamping, but about the entire honor itself. It’s very overwhelming. I won the World Cruiserweight Gloved Championship five times before turning 100 percent of my focus to love of bare-knuckling.
“Nothing I have done in the sport even comes close to matching the pride I feel for being recognized by Scott Burt, the Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame and the people of Belfast, I have been to Belfast once and can’t wait to get back there. What Scott Burt has done for the world for the bare-knuckle boxing is unmatched; the respect he has gained throughout the world and the sport is amazing. Believe me, everyone in my world of fighting knows about Belfast, N.Y., and its connection to the Great John L. Sullivan. I am humbled to be associated with it.”
THE BARE KNUCKLE BOXING Hall of Fame will host its seventh-annual induction this year during the weekend of July 31 through Aug. 2.
Every year, two groups are carefully selected as inductees, Burt said. One group is the Honorary Inductees — these folks are modern-era boxers, trainers, coaches and promoters that have brought a positive spotlight to upstate New York in recent years. The other group, of course, consists of the original bare-knucklers.
In the past, the fighters were entirely from the 1600s, 1700s and 1800s, but all that changes this year, Burt said.
For ticket information for this year’s induction weekend and a list of activities, text (585) 610-3326 or go to www.bareknuckleboxinghalloffame.com.