BKBtm is a company built upon values of honour, respect and integrity. One look at a promotional media day will affirm the fact that for the most part, great mutual respect is shared amongst fighters. For many fans of the sport, the gentlemanly conduct and cordial discourse between competitors is a key driving force behind their support. Yet, despite a back catalogue of well-mannered fan favourites, there has always been a place in bare-knuckle boxing for the bad guy. Like it or not, drama sells in the combat sports world and that’s why today, we are paying tribute to three of the very best bad guys in the sport.
Side note: These three lads are amongst my favourite people in BKB, which probably tells you something about me.
Where do we begin with Connor Tierney? A relatively unknown quantity at the start of the year, ‘The Brum Town Bomber’ has exploded in popularity during 2020, but not in the way you might think. Fans seem to genuinely despise Tierney for all he is worth and aren’t afraid to let him know it. In recent months, Tierney’s social media has become a breeding ground for hate, yet, he remains undeterred and even appears to welcome it.
So, why do BKB fans dislike Connor so much? Well, it all started with a simple post to Bare-Knuckle Boxing Facebook group ‘BKB Banter’ by the Birmingham Boxer. During this post, Connor stated in no uncertain terms that he would school Barrie Jones, which received a great deal of criticism from fans and fighters alike. One fan asserted that Barrie would ‘change the way Connor looked’, while others were quick to dismiss Connor as deluded. At the time of writing, Connor was 2-1 and his first-round knock-out loss to Franco remained fresh in the minds of BKB fans. It was reasonably understandable to write-off Connor at this point, as he was yet to really make a name for himself. However, everything would change at BKB 20.
Rising from the ashes as a last-minute replacement and heavy underdog, Connor Tierney pulled off the upset of the year by capturing Prize-Fighter gold with a scintillating knockout over James Connelly. From here, the assumption would be that Connor’s victory became the feel-good story of BKB 20, however, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Rather than humbly accepting his title, Tierney opted to use the belt as a way of winding everyone up, littering social media with him and his prize. By the end of the week every man, woman and dog knew that Tierney had won the Prize-Fighter belt, and fans once again took to social media to oust him. This time, however, the comments became more personal and the hatred for Connor was clear to see. Fans now saw Connor as a threat, and he was really starting to embrace it.
Switching to the modern-day and Connor has become one of the most familiar faces in BKB. His meteoric rise is nothing short of remarkable and can almost entirely be attributed to his playfully arrogant videos which have harboured so much hate. From belt posing to openly mocking BKB fans, Connor has an excellent archive of footage to really wind you up and he doesn’t intend to stop anytime soon.
Find below a selection of examples:
Hailing from New York City, it’s the original bad guy, Eric Olsen. A man who has made his name through controversy. Why do the fans dislike him? Because he wants them to. Question his logic and you too could become a victim of his social media tirades.
As old school as they come, Eric has been “slaying Brits” as he likes to call it since the UBBAD days, and never pulls his punches when it comes to trash-talk. Verbal onslaughts have become commonplace between Eric and his opponents, with Greg Mayne, Scott Midgley and Matthew Hodgson all falling victim to his tactics. Eric is often criticised by fans for taking things too far and although I am an advocate for free speech I do concede that he is not for everyone. Amongst Eric’s most famous quotes, are a string of ‘junkie’ comments surrounding Marc Navarro and Dundee and threats to kill just about every man he faces.
So, with all that being said, it comes with no surprise that Eric gains little support from his opponents’ fans; but what about the others? Well, Eric likes to play on the unwavering patriotism of many Englishmen, by constantly mocking English culture. ‘Blood Axe’ alternates between references to the American Revolutionary War, and the invasion of the Great Heathen Army, two of the most devastating onslaughts on English men and women. As a History graduate, I find Eric’s historical humour downright hilarious, however, the fans do not. At this point, I’m not sure if Eric receives more death threats than he dishes out, which is certainly saying something. Either way, Eric has become a cult legend in BKB and sports his own loyal fan base who support his every move.
Find below a couple of Eric’s finest rants:
Definitely the most surprising addition to the list, Hubert Geven, is the most unlikely of ‘bad guys’. This placing alone seems a bit absurd to me but the facts are the facts, many fans don’t like him. Despite his backlash being rather unwarranted, I have managed to get to the bottom of why he has his ‘haters’ and to be honest it still seems a little far-fetched.
The first qualm fans seem to have with Hubert surrounds what should have been his first BKB fight against Bachir Fakhouri. During the lead up to this bout , Bachir had missed weight at the official weigh-in by three kilograms, and was given extra time to drop the weight. Hubert, who was aware dropping three kilograms in such a short-space of time would be difficult, allowed a two kilogram leeway, meaning Fakhouri only had to drop one kilogram. Instead, Fakhouri came in two kilograms heavier than the original weigh-in and Hubert refused the fight. After this, a war of words backstage led to a full-blown brawl and the rest is history. Hubert and Bachir were labelled as ‘unprofessional’ and although Bachir seemed to receive the majority of the criticism, Hubert did not go without his fair share.
Moving forward two months and Hubert would find himself a subject of controversy once again; this time in his actual debut against Mark Rawes. During the fight, Hubert was pulled up multiple times for clinching while striking, yet incredibly was never deducted a point. In British bare-knuckle boxing, unlike the American counterpart, cinching is illegal and clearly Hubert had mixed up his rules. Although there is no doubt that Hubert should have paid closer attention to the BKB rule-set, in fairness, he was allowed to get away with it by the referee. Hubert went on to win the contest by third round doctor’s stoppage as outrage ensued. Now Hubert was being labelled not only as ‘unprofessional’ but also as a ‘cheater’.
After defeating Rawes, Hubert advanced into the BKB Prize-Fighter final and was set to face Smudger Smith at BKB 20 in January. However, just three weeks before the fight disaster struck as Hubert was forced to pull out due to a broken hand. Despite Hubert’s affirmation, Smudger became skeptical of the break and accused Hubert of faking an injury to duck the fight as he had not provided an x-ray. Following the pull-out, Smudger hounded Hubert as the two began arguing over social media, bringing with him a hoard of followers. Obviously, with the popularity of Smith many fans are inclined to side with Smudger and this may explain why Hubert is regarded the way he is.
You can find interviews explaining the rivalry from both perspectives below, as well as Hubert and Bach’s brawl: