“A remarkable story of triumph and heartbreak.” —Don Winslow, #1 internationally bestselling author of The Cartel
Nonfiction/Sports & Recreation
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.
“Yes, this is 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
“In this exhilarating debut, former Rolling Stone editor Bonner follows the riveting life of Bobby Gunn…usher[ing] readers into the lurid and fascinating world of illegal underground bare-knuckle fighting…Throughout, Gunn’s character—a gritty, endearingly avuncular figure—and his ambition to legalize the sport…lends pathos to the sensational subculture he exists within. Boxing fans won’t want to miss this.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
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.