The sport of bare knuckle boxing continues to gather momentum and there are plenty of Northamptonshire connections involved in its growth.
Jim Freeman, who was a first-team coach at Kettering Town last season, co-founded Bare Knuckle Boxing (BKB) – the only licensed company promoting the sport – with his business partner Joe Brown.
Freeman, who lives in Wellingborough, has overseen a rapid rise for the company since it was formed in 2015.
Preparations are now well under way ahead of their next show – BKB 16 – which will again be staged at the indigo at The O2 on March 30.
The company hit the headlines again recently with former professional footballer and boxer Curtis Woodhouse, who made over 60 appearances for Rushden & Diamonds during his football career, signing a three-fight deal.
And one of the headline bouts on the upcoming show will see former UFC fighter Brad Pickett, who went to school in Oundle, matched up with Mark Handley.
The future looks bright for the sport and Freeman has high hopes for the near future.
“The last event being shown on a Sky channel and on Virgin was a big step forward for us and with us being at the O2 and now having legal betting on the fights, we are really starting to gather some pace,” he said.
“It’s what I am doing full-time now and we are always looking to push forward.
“We are happy to keep doing the shows at the indigo at The O2 for the time being and putting the numbers on.
“But next year will be a time where we will really push it forward and hopefully look to take it to an international audience.”
The addition of Woodhouse to the roster captured national headlines last week and he is set to make his debut on the June 8 show.
And Freeman added: “Obviously having Curtis on board is a good thing for us.
“He is a name everyone knows and he could now become the first person to be a professional footballer, a glove boxing champion and a bare knuckle boxing champion.
“He won’t be competing until June but the next show is building up nicely.
“We have Brad Pickett fighting in March and he is another guy with local connections because he went to school in Oundle.
“And anyone who knows anything about him knows he is an MMA legend, who has fought in the UFC.”
For ticket information for BKB 16, visit the website https://www.theo2.co.uk/events/detail/bkb-16