A lot can happen in five years.
In just five trips around the sun, Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship has gone from a twinkle in founder David Feldman’s eye to the fastest growing combat sports promotion in the world.
This Friday officially marks five years since the inaugural BKFC event took place in Cheyenne, WY, and what a ride it’s been.
Since 2018, BKFC has promoted over 50 events in 12 states and four countries. It boasts divisions overseas that promote sold-out events across Asia and the United Kingdom, and it recently introduced BKFC Europe.
The organization routinely signs the biggest superstars of the combat sports world, and works tirelessly to grow the sport of bare knuckle fighting.
Feldman, a former pro boxer, points to two reasons for BKFC’s success.
“We don’t quit, first and foremost. We fix things, and we find ways to make it work instead of finding excuses,” the Philadelphia-based entrepreneur says.
"We’re different,” he adds. “We’re not another boxing promotion or MMA league. We’re a different sport that’s more exciting, more engaging and more relatable to the normal person than any other combat sport in the world.”
BKFC is rapidly becoming a global powerhouse. But the organization’s success hasn’t come overnight – and it hasn’t come without hurdles to overcome.
Bare knuckle fighting has a rich tradition that dates back hundreds of years, but the sport lay dormant in North America since the 1800s. Thus, Feldman and his team sought out to create a phenomenon that preserved the unique historical legacy of bare knuckle fighting while also creating a comprehensive ruleset that emphasized fighter safety. They were tasked with creating a sport that not only appealed to fans, but also to strict state athletic commissions.
“I don’t want to be too cliche, but we’ve always found ways to make it work. I’m most proud of the fact that, for the most part, the core team that we started with is still intact today to enjoy this success,” Feldman says.
“What makes me the most proud is that we didn’t quit. We found a way to make it work.”
Over the years Feldman has seen some of BKFC’s biggest naysayers become some of its strongest supporters. Battling perceptions of bare knuckle fighting and its perceived brutality, he says, has been the biggest challenge since his organization’s inception. The solution to that, simply enough, is exposure.
“There’s a certain reaction that comes when you say ‘bare knuckle fighting’ to someone for the first time, but you show them one of our events and they’re shocked – it’s nothing like they expected,” he says.
Feldman is quick to deflect praise to his team for BKFC’s success through five years. On a personal level, he doesn’t have any big plans to celebrate Friday’s milestone. He’s already looking forward to the next five years, which officially kick off with BKFC 44 on June 9 in Great Falls, MT, LIVE on The BKFC App.
“At some point I’d like to sit back and reflect, but you can’t sit back for too long because you’ve got to keep moving forward,” he says.
“It’s moving fast, man.”