IT may be brutal and not for the faint-hearted, but bare knuckle boxing is a sport that makes Ben Waddington tick.
The ex-Army man from Kimberworth likes the thrill and the excitement of it, stepping into the ring and trading blows with other men flesh on flesh.
It might seem an unusual hobby for a man who works as a firestopping engineer on building sites by day, but bare knuckle boxing is nothing new.
The sport has its roots in ancient Greece and Rome and the list of English heavyweight champions goes back to 1719.
With the introduction of the Queensbury Rules in 1867, it was pushed underground but continued on.
Although bare knuckle boxing is legal in the UK, fully exposed knuckles are not permitted here. Fighters are required to wear bandages to provide some kind of protection to competitors like Ben.
“I joined the army at 16 and boxed for a few years,” he explained. “Then four or five years ago I took up bare knuckle.
“It is more brutal, yes, but it is also more exciting. It gives me a boost. I prefer it to boxing.
“They say it is more dangerous but there have been more deaths in boxing than in bare knuckle.
“There are medical teams on hand and St John's Ambulance.”
Ben can now lay claim to becoming Rotherham's first legal bare knuckle champion.
He beat Mexborough's Karl Jones to win the Heavyweight Transatlantic Title on a bill at Bradford recently.
The contest was scheduled for six two-minute rounds but Ben knocked out his rival in 30 seconds. He was a late step-in.
Ben (left) and the team putting on the forthcoming show at East Herringthorpe.
“I've fought eight times now and won four and lost four,” says Ben, who stands 6ft tall and weighs 17-and-a-half stone. “I've not really been badly hurt, just badly cut, but that comes with the sport.
“I don't fight out of any gym. I train myself. There is just me and my corner man and we train in the back garden or wherever I can.
“As well as my boxing and daytime job, I've got a family at home and a ten-month-old girl.
“Of course, my girlfriend doesn't want me to get hurt, as the family of any fighter wouldn't, but like me she prefers bare knuckle to regular boxing.”
Ben defends his title against Donald Wonch from Canada, a former MMA fighter, on a bill at East Herringthorpe Club on May 2. It will be one of a handful of bare knuckle bouts, including another big title bout, alongside several regular fights on the night.
“I want to defend the title and then hopefully move on to challenging for world titles,” adds Ben. “My ultimate inspiration is to become The Gov’nor at my weight and follow big names like Lennie McLean and Roy Jones.
“I'm still only 29 and hopefully I've got a few years left to go. I get paid but I don't do it for money. I do it for the love of the fight game and the pride of winning titles. That's what keeps me going.”
For tickets for the Herringthorpe show or sponsorship opportunities with Ben, he can be contacted on 07858 071813.