A BKB veteran and long-reigning champion, Jimmy ‘the Celtic Warrior’ Sweeney currently holds the title for both middleweight and lightweight. In fact, he holds two English and two Irish titles, as well as a silver medal from four different nations.
So, who is the man behind the fighter, and how did he get to become one of the most formidable BKB pros in the world?
With an exciting year of BKB events ahead, we take a look at the life and career of one of the sport’s finest – here’s everything you need to know about Jimmy Sweeney.
Irish Traveller Roots
Jimmy Sweeney has Irish Traveller heritage; now living in the UK, the fighter has talked many times about his connection to the sport through his Traveller roots.
Since as far back as the 1700s, bare-knuckle boxing has traditionally been used in the Irish Traveller community to settle disputes between families. A form of BKB, known as ‘Irish stand down’ or ‘strap fighting’, was also popular within Irish American communities during the 1800s, until it was regulated and became an underground sport in the US.
There has been a resurgence of bare-knuckle boxing in recent years, and as the world has begun to take the sport more seriously, the likes of Jimmy Sweeney have increasingly garnered appreciation as athletes in their own right.
Sweeney’s familial ties to bare-knuckle boxing mean that he has been fighting for most of his adult life, climbing his way to the self-proclaimed title, ‘King of BKB’.
Back in 2005, when he was just 18, Dublin-born Sweeney was already representing Ireland in international fights.
Unlike many of his contemporaries, Sweeney has made his name through bare-knuckle boxing alone, rather than the initial foray into MMA or gloved boxing that often precedes in many fighters’ careers.
Sweeney didn’t get to where he is without some truly remarkable performances in the ring. Throughout his career of over 15 years, Sweeney has been involved in dozens of spectacular fights in order to secure his position as ‘king’.
Notable recent fights in Sweeney’s career include:
March 2018: BKB10 – Sweeney vs Julian Lane
Won via knockout
This showstopper rematch between these two greats was the fight that catapulted Jimmy Sweeney even further than he already was into the BKB limelight. Lane had beaten Sweeney in the ring (his first professional loss) so Sweeney approached the rematch with heightened energy and focus; his speed and agility was noticeably a cut above any of his previous performances, and he beat Lane in the fifth round.
September 2018: BKB13 – Sweeney vs Sean George
Won via technical knockout
For many BKB fans, this stands out at the ultimate Sweeney performance – at the time it was a hugely anticipated fight between two champions. The fight was as considered and composed as a game of chess, with both opponents delivering several significant strikes. Although George was a worthy opponent, Sweeney triumphed due to his signature combination of powerful strikes and agile footwork, defeating George in the seventh round.
June 2019: BKB17 – Sweeney vs Edgar Puerta
Won via decision
Two bare-knuckle boxing legends went head-to-head in this incredible fight for BKB17. Edgar Puerta, a super featherweight champion, put on a spellbinding show. For many, the fight remains one of the most gripping moments in recent BKB history. It opened with a fast-paced barrage of blows from both sides, before Puerta took Sweeney to the floor. After this, Sweeney picked himself up and brought Puerta down in the following two rounds, ultimately winning via decision.
Although there were rumours in late 2019 that retirement was on the cards for Jimmy Sweeney, it seems that these were unfounded. Sweeney retains his double title status, and clearly has plenty of fight left in him.
Here at NetBet Sport, we, along with the rest of the BKB community, look forward to what the future holds for the Celtic Warrior…