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Bare-knuckle is a phrase often used to distinguish between boxing with gloves and the more ancient form of combat sport performed by two individuals fighting without any gloves or other form of padding on their hands.

The practice dates back at least to Ancient Greece, but rules for such bare-fisted fighting began to be formulated in the 18th century, when a Jack Broughton began to apply rules to make contests both safer and fairer.

Tom Cribb was one of the most notable bare-knuckle boxers of the early 19th century. Less than 100 years later, the practice had all but disappeared, replaced by much more regulated gloved bouts.